Dr. Hank Jenkins-Smith

EPSCoR Research Focus: 
Observatory Network * Forecasting System
Associate Director, Center for Risk, Crisis and Resilience | Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Oklahoma
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B.A. | Political Science and Economics | Linfield College | 1979
M.A. | Political Science | University of Rochester | 1981
Ph.D. | Political Science | University of Rochester | 1985
Research Interests: 

Oklahoma NSF EPSCoR Researchers:
Socio-Ecological Systems' Adaptation to Climate Variability

Hank Jenkins-Smith earned his PhD in political science and public policy from the University of Rochester (1985). He has been employed as a policy analyst in the DOE Office of Policy Analysis (1982-83), and previously served on the faculty of Southern Methodist University, the University of New Mexico, and Texas A&M University. He is currently a member of the faculty in the Center for Applied Social Research at the University of Oklahoma, and serves as the Associate Director of the Center for Risk, Crisis & Resilience. Professor Jenkins-Smith has published books, articles and reports on public policy processes, risk perception, national security, and energy and environmental policy. He has served on National Research Council Committees focused on policies to transport spent nuclear fuel and dispose of chemical weapons, and he currently serves as an elected member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement. Last year he gave several presentations to the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to assist in the Commission’s deliberations on public acceptance of new initiatives in nuclear facility siting.

Dr. Jenkins-Smith's current research focuses on theories of the public policy process, with particular emphasis on the management (and mismanagement) of controversial technical issues involving high risk perceptions on the part of the public. He applies a variant of Cultural Theory (as advanced by anthropologist Mary Douglas and political scientist Aaron Wildavsky) to understand variations in public understanding and response to a range of societal risks, including climate change, nuclear technologies, natural disasters, radioactive materials, vaccines, and others. As part of this work he has fielded a series of national surveys since 1993 focusing on public understanding and preferences regarding nuclear security, accompanied by a more recent series (starting in 2006) focusing on energy, environmental issues, and nuclear materials management.

Dr. Jenkins-Smith's work on the Oklahoma EPSCoR NSF RII award no. IIA-1301789 addresses two significant research objectives, including:

  1. Establishment of a first-of-its-kind, statewide, socio-ecological observatory;
  2. Development of a fully integrated socio-ecological modeling and prediction system that is designed to integrate qualitative and quantitative approaches and to systematically examine insights from both disciplinary and integrated perspectives.
Research Assistants Funded by EPSCoR: 

Nina Carlson (Staff)
Center for Risk and Crisis Management and the Center for Energy, Security and Society, University of Oklahoma
Research Focus:  Building the MSIS-Net survey instrument and performing related project tasks, including budget and oversight, for the Center for Risk and Crisis Management.
Email:  ninacarlson@ou.edu

Key Publications: 
  • Sabatier, P. and H. Jenkins-Smith. Policy Change and Learning: An Advocacy Coalition Approach. Westview Press, Boulder, CO. 1993.
  • Goebbert, Kevin, Hank Jenkins-Smith, Kim Klockow, Matthew Nowlin, and Carol Silva. 2012. “Weather, Climate and Worldviews: The Sources and Consequences of Public Perceptions of Changes in Local Weather Patterns.” Weather, Climate and Society 4(2): 132-144.
  • Kahan, D., H. Jenkins-Smith and D. Braman. 2011. “Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus,” Journal of Risk Research, 14(2):147-174.
  • Jones, M. and H. Jenkins-Smith. 2009. “Trans-Subsystem Dynamics: Policy Topography, Mass Opinion, and Policy Change.” Policy Studies Journal 38(1): 37-58.
  • Robert Berrens, Alok Bohara, Hank Jenkins-Smith, Carol Silva and David Weimer. 2003. “The Advent of Internet Surveys for Political Research: A Comparison of Telephone and Internet Samples,” Political Analysis 11: 1-23.
  • Jenkins-Smith, H., C. Silva, M. Nowlin, and G. deLozier. 2011. “Reversing Nuclear Opposition: Evolving Public Acceptance of a Permanent Nuclear Waste Disposal Facility.” Risk Analysis 31(4): 629-644.
  • Silva, C., and H. Jenkins-Smith. 2007. “Precaution in Context: US and EU Scientists’ Prescriptions for Policy in the Face of Uncertainty.” Social Science Quarterly 88(3): 640-664.
  • Silva, C., H. Jenkins-Smith and R. Barke. 2007. “From Experts’ Beliefs to Safety Standards: Explaining Preferred Radiation Protection Standards in Polarized Technical Communities.” Risk Analysis 27(3): 755-773.
Curriculum Vitae: