Authors: Liz Roberts*, University of the West of England, Antonia Liguori, Loughborough University, Lindsey McEwen, University of the West of England, Caitlin DeSilvey, University of Exeter
Topics: Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Narrative; Science Communication; Community Engagement; Participatory Arts
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Napoleon A2, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
This paper will reflect on the opportunities and challenges of engaging different types of stakeholders directly with science materials around the topic of drought risk via an evolving community-oriented methodology. The Drought Risk and You (DRY) Project faced significant barriers to engagement in a UK context, resulting in a flexible, evolving and diverse set of approaches that entwined a public engagement remit with data collection. DRY had the goal to bring more than ‘the usual voices’ into conversations around drought risk using a variety of storytelling approaches and techniques in order to inform policy and future water management. Science communication and the interaction between science and storytelling was a central component. Outside of participatory action research where communities chose the focus of the research activity, research on public engagement sometimes makes a normative assumption that people want to be engaged despite often having little personal interest in, or resonance with, the research topic. DRY has found that storytelling has both functioned as a way-in to certain groups and a barrier to engagement with others. The project team have developed strategies, resources, and ‘translation’ narratives for scientific knowledge exchange/exploration that have assisted with community engagement through the process and will present the ‘lessons learnt’. One focus will explore the extent to which publics understand or relate to the spatial boundaries and geographical categories established by geographical research, for example in this project, the river catchment, and what this means in terms of engagement.