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UNICRI’s Biosecurity Masterclass aims to provide media and public relations professionals, as well as those planning a career in public information, with an in-depth understanding of how advances in modern biology are represented as posing new security threats to states and citizens. The focus of the two-day workshop is on the societal implications of biotechnology, with an emphasis on how the subjects of bioterrorism and biosecurity are represented and communicated in the media.

Over the last 30 years, biotechnology has been used for both beneficial and destructive purposes. While enabling new medical therapies and industrial processes, it has also sparked new opportunities for the production of biological weapons by non-state actors. Inscribed under the concept of the ‘dual-use dilemma’, biotechnology is increasingly represented as ‘revolutionary’ and potentially ‘catastrophic’.

In this context, media and public information professionals play a crucial role in communicating, interpreting and reporting complex issues related to advances in biotechnology, concerns about bioterrorism and heightened demands for biosecurity. A clear, objective and reliable reporting is central to inform citizens and institutions.

The Masterclass will be structured as follows:

Part 1: Framing the threat and methods of prevention
Participants will deepen their knowledge of biotechnology, bioterrorism, and the preventative strategies associated with biosecurity.

Part 2: The role of media
Participants will learn how to identify reliable sources, interview scientists and report facts and threats. They will acquire key tools to report compelling news stories and to frame bioethical debates, meeting world-class scientists and media professionals in this field, expanding their professional network in a select, international environment.

This workshop is conducted under the framework of the CBRN Risk Mitigation and Security Governance Programme.

Photo by Martine Perret for UN Photo