Tagged / interactive digital narrative

ATRS Scheme Update: Health & Science Communication

It’s only been a few months since I published my first research blog post introducing myself and my research project to all of you at Bournemouth University. And while I still haven’t met any of you in person (thanks, COVID!), the last seven months have been jam-packed with activities, collaborations, grant proposals, research talks, escape rooms, and other general shenanigans.

logo - science, health, and data communications research groupI joined colleagues in FMC in launching the Science, Health, and Data Communications Research Group, a growing centre of cross-faculty BU researchers creating and researching public communications and education on pivotal topics such as climate change, dementia, mental health, COVID, sustainability, ecology, and more. We are hosting our first public research talk series this semester, with excellent turnout and talks from prominent science and communications researchers from around the world.

I also led a university-wide “mini-Crucible“, designed to foster new collaborations across faculty leading to innovative interdisciplinary research projects (and, of course, funding applications). Not only was this event a trial of a virtual version of Nesta’s “Crucible-in-a-Box” program, but it was also rather successful, as it has led to a forthcoming AHRC Research Grant proposal for a Sustainable Storytelling Lab. The SSL will be exploring popular narrative across a variety of media and genres to educate, counter disinformation, and prompt positive behaviour change toward the UN-Sustainable Development Goals.

Related to this, I am currently leading an Expression of Interest for the SIA Game-Changing Concepts call, proposing to place Sustainable Storytelling for Health and Science as a key endeavour for BU moving forward.

I’m also excited to have Using Interactive Digital Narrative for Health and Science Communication publishing next month; this is a jointly-authored monograph using two of my projects (You & CO2 and Infectious Storytelling) as case studies for demonstrating how IDNs can be effectively used to change attitudes and behaviours on science and health topics.

As any researcher always does, I have a ton of projects on the go, including a games for mental health project PI’d by Charlie Hargood, and a social media for NHS careworker project PI’d by Mona Esfahani. Many great things are on the horizon for Science and Health Communication at Bournemouth University, and I can’t wait to see what more evolves!

If you’re interested in collaborating, including the Sustainable Storytelling Lab, the SIA Game-Changing Concept EoI, my Playable Comms work, or something of your own, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at lskains@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Academic Targeted Research Scheme (Health & Science Communication): Interactive Digital Narratives for Health and Science Education

Portrait - Lyle SkainsI’m the last of the Academic Targeted Research Scheme appointments; I took up my post last month (September) in Health & Science Communication. My home base is in the Faculty of Media & Communication, though my project will span numerous departments across arts and science disciplines.

My research is centred in an interdisciplinary and ubiquitous communication method that can be employed for multiple UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: interactive digital narrative (IDN). IDNs can be used in schools, GP waiting rooms, on tablets and smartphones; interactivity significantly increases retention, particularly when incorporated into media that audiences voluntarily and eagerly devote attention to. As a practice-based practitioner/researcher composing IDNs and evaluating their efficacy on multiple projects, I aim to develop a model for health and science communication through reading and writing IDNs that can be implemented in a wide array of scenarios and topic areas.

I came to this work through a serendipitous process, as I earned an undergraduate degree in science and did some postgrad study in evolutionary biology. I quickly discovered, however, that I’m more interested in reading and writing about science than I am in doing it (it was a lot of pipetting DNA!), so I changed tack. Amongst various professional endeavours, I started over, culminating in a PhD in Creative Writing and Digital Media.

You and CO2

My research is largely practice-based, as I compose various creative writing experiments in order to explore how new technologies such as hypertext, scripting, and multimodality affect the creative act and artefact. More recently, I have engaged in two Welsh Crucible-supported projects that brought me back to my science roots, combining interactive storytelling and science communication. You and CO2 examines using interactive digital narratives as bibliotherapy and expressive writing to effect positive attitude and behaviour change regarding the current climate crisis.

Likewise, the Infectious Storytelling project explores the efficacy of interactive digital narratives as persuasive media for educating the public about behaviours that lead to antibiotic microbial resistance. This project incorporates practice-based research, medical humanities, archive research, media analysis, ethnographic research in focus groups, and literary and art criticism, and is based on the historical treatment of tuberculosis in art, media, and literature, using insights Cover image from IDN "Only Always Never"gained from archival research and textual analysis to inform approaches to communicating the importance of proper antibiotic use to patients, farmers, and the general public.

Here at Bournemouth, I’m excited to expand these experiences into a wider “IDNs for SciComm” project. I’m going to be reaching out to colleagues across arts and sciences disciplines at BU, fostering collaborations and new avenues to explore the use of interactive narratives for health and science communication. The aim of this research is to identify and address a number of science and health communication needs through the increasingly ubiquitous digital technology in our lives, including the possibility of ongoing communication about the current COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re interested in collaborating with me or with others on interdisciplinary arts-science health and science communication, please get in touch!