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Assessing Contemporary Crises: Aligning Safety Science and Security Studies  

Bibi van den Berg, Ruth Prins, and Sanneke Kuipers

Security and safety are key topics of concern in the globalized and interconnected world. While the terms “safety” and “security” are often used interchangeably in everyday life, in academia, security is mostly studied in the social sciences, while safety is predominantly studied in the natural sciences, engineering, and medicine. However, developments and incidents that negatively affect society increasingly contain both safety and security aspects. Therefore, an integrated perspective on security and safety is beneficial. Such a perspective studies hazardous and harmful events and phenomena in the full breadth of their complexity—including the cause of the event, the target that is harmed, and whether the harm is direct or indirect. This leads to a richer understanding of the nature of incidents and the effects they may have on individuals, collectives, societies, nation-states, and the world at large.