School of Policy Studies

School of Policy Studies
School of Policy Studies

Photo of William Leiss 2017
​William Leiss

Professor Emeritus

Personal Website



William Leiss is a Fellow and Past-President (1999-2001) of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer in the Order of Canada.  He is currently Scientist and Associate Director for Risk Communication, McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, University of Ottawa.  He was Professor, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University (1994-2005), where he held the Eco-Research Chair in Environmental Policy; from 1999 to 2005 he was seconded to the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, for the NSERC/SSHRC/Industry Research Chair in Risk Communication and Public Policy. 

He is author or senior co-author of In the Chamber of Risks:  Understanding Risk Controversies (2001), Mad Cows and Mother's Milk: The Perils of Poor Risk Communication (1997, 2004), Risk and Responsibility (1994), The Domination of Nature (1972), The Limits to Satisfaction (1976),  Under Technology's Thumb (1990), and C. B. Macpherson (1988, 2009), all from McGill-Queen's University Press; also Social Communication in Advertising (Routledge, 1986, 1990, 2005) and The Doom Loop in the Financial Sector, and Other Black Holes of Risk (2010), from the University of Ottawa Press.  A fourth edition of Social Communication in Advertising will be published by Routledge New York in 2018.

He has also written a trilogy entitled The Herasaga:  A Work of Utopian Fiction, composed of Book One:  Hera, or Empathy (2006); Book Two, The Priesthood of Science (2008);  and Book Three:  Hera The Buddha (2017). 

Over a period of thirty years he has done many consulting projects for industry and governments in the general areas of risk management and risk communication, across a very broad range of health and environmental issues.

In recent years he has been working on risk management and risk communication projects in the following areas:  storage and disposal of low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste, carbon capture and storage, and prion diseases (BSE and CWD).  A number of journal articles in these areas are currently in press.

September 2017