Risky Business

a Discovery Core Experience

May be taken as either a BCORE 110 (Natural Sciences) or BCORE 107 (Social Sciences)

About This Course

Why do we take risks? Better yet, what is risk? If you ask a statistician, risk is the probability of some consequential outcome.

For many people, the word risk has a bad connotation (i.e., it’s risky to do that). For others, risks are those entities that need to be overcome. We use risk models and assessments in many things.

When you take out a life insurance, policies are based on well-established actuarial analyses. When the Mariners sign their prospects, the front office has a long list of “risks” associated with the player. What is the risk of not doing anything about climate change?

Sometimes truths get stretched a bit more than what’s verifiable. Sometimes materials are presented in ways that excessively amplify the benefits and hide the adverse effects.

We will evaluate risks in technology, health, business, politics, and human behavior for better decision-making. We will also take a multi-disciplinary approach to evaluating risks (i.e., natural and applied sciences, social sciences, and business).

What Should I Expect?

This course will familiarize students with quantitative analysis tools and modeling techniques. Sample activities will include estimations, dimensional analysis, and learning to get the feel for numbers and their units.

There will be a team project for the course. As such, students will connect with campus resources found in. the UW Libraries, the Writing Center, and the Quantitative Resource Center.

Where possible, each problem-based question will seek multi-disciplinary inquiry. For example, a business/financial risk problem will involve inquiries by technological analysis as well as business practitioner. An epidemiology risk problem will involve an epidemiologist, a statistician, a policy wonk or a sociologist, among others.

Dr. Wolf Yeigh (he/him/his)

School of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics

About Professor Yeigh

Princeton University, Ph.D. – Civil Engineering and Operations Research, M.A. – Civil Engineering and Operations Research
Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, Graduate Certificate, Science and Technology Policy
Stanford University, M.S. – Mechanical Engineering
Dartmouth College, B.A. – Engineering Science

Bjong Wolf Yeigh was the third chancellor of University of Washington Bothell. Prior to joining UW Bothell, Yeigh was professor and president of the State University of New York Institute of Technology (now SUNY Polytechnic Institute). He previously held the position of vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Norwich University, engineering dean at Saint Louis University, and assistant provost for science and technology at Yale University. He was on the engineering faculty at Oklahoma State University. He was elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and serves on several national and state boards for engineering, economic development, public policy and education.


Phone: 425.352.5221
Email: yeigh@uw.edu