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dc.contributor.advisorRock, Jenny
dc.contributor.authorDuckles, Alexander
dc.identifier.citationDuckles, A. (2014). Narrative Models for Communicating Energy Science (Thesis, Master of Science Communication). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractEffective science communication is one of the most indispensable tools in bringing scientific understanding to the public sphere, however the field is by no means perfect. In this thesis, I address one of the central concerns within the science communication methodology — none of its various communication models adequately recognize that the guidelines for effective science communication may be entirely contingent upon different types of science. More plainly put: not all science is equal, and it cannot be communicated under this assumption. This thesis looks explicitly at communicating energy science to a general audience, and how effective communication may be influenced by the unique cultural paradigms regarding energy that are held by our society today. Our historical ties with energy science run deep, and as a result, a large portion of the public sphere has become reluctant to acknowledge the reality of our contemporary energy environment. When confronted with this type of dissonance between science and society, communicators often look towards narrative devices, such as character driven storylines, to make scientific content more accessible — but will this narrative model hold up effectively for science that is far more culturally indoctrinated than many other fields? In this thesis, I examine several case studies to investigate the relative benefits of using narrative elements to communicate energy science, and whether or not this methodology can be effective given energy’s place in our culture. Four examples of energy communication are examined along the narrative spectrum. To explore a traditional, non-­‐narrative approach to energy communication, case studies include an article from the popular science magazine Scientific American (1990) and a television public service announcement produced by the United States Federal Energy Administration (1975). For comparison, two fictional sources with strong narrative elements are also analyzed: the popular science fiction movie The Matrix (1999) and an energy-­‐themed episode from the children’s science program The Magic School Bus (1995). These case studies lend support to the benefits of narrative structure in energy communication — notably an emotive, character driven story — while also stressing the significance of true-­‐to-­‐ life examples and avoiding entirely fictional scenarios. The final chapter of this thesis examines narrative non-­‐fiction film and literature as an effective middle ground between the previous two styles, with the hopes to discern the most promising structure to further the communication of energy science. While examining the narrative non-­‐fiction genre, I discuss the documentary film “Bloom” (enclosed in Appendix A.2) which I have produced to exemplify the narrative techniques and theories uncovered through my research. “Bloom” tells the story of a New Zealand entrepreneur whose work in algal biofuels has garnered global scientific support, and explores his journey to share this science with the public sphere. In making this film, I have attempted to put into practice the theory and narrative techniques identified through my research. Ultimately, I propose that narrative non-­‐fiction documentary allows for a beneficial synergy between the non-­‐ narrative and fictional styles, creating a comprehensive and powerful tool for advancing energy communication.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectenvironmental science
dc.titleNarrative Models for Communicating Energy Science
dc.language.rfc3066en for Science Communication of Science Communication of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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