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Communicating Material Cultures of Energy: Five Challenges for Energy Communication

Aim

This project aims to contribute to sustainable energy use by addressing communication-related challenges in the energy and culture sector through multidisciplinary discussions and activities.

Context

This is a follow-on project from the AHRC-funded ‘Material Cultures of Energy’ project (MCE, 2014–2017), which examined how modern energy consumption transformed daily life during the 20th century.

It will engage with the process of communicating energy-related knowledge and information by collaborating with energy communicators in energy companies, government offices, community energy groups, museums and research organisations.

Further information is available at the project website.

Outcomes

Energy Communication Toolkit

Download the Energy Communication Toolkit

The Energy Communication Toolkit is a primary outcome of the Communicating Material Cultures of Energy project (C-MCE). The toolkit was developed by Hiroki Shin and Heather Chappells through C-MCE's knowledge exchanges with communication experts and researchers across fields and disciplines.

Despite the huge volume of energy-related communications by energy companies, governments, academics, campaign organisations and concerned citizens today, no readily available guide for this important field of public communication exists. The toolkit addresses this gap, offering a unique insight into energy communication by drawing upon recent case studies and academic literature.

The toolkit aims to help energy communication practitioners and researchers reflect on the inherent challenges of communicating energy issues and assist their search for alternative means and approaches to make energy communication effective and inclusive. The toolkit's activities are designed to shed new light on energy communication as it takes place in many areas of today’s society at a time of historic energy transition.

With its five tools that address five challenges for energy communication, the toolkit also features case studies ranging from a gamified approach to energy decarbonisation, trials of thermal energy visualisation and an energy-themed museum exhibition to a creative art session for defamiliarising energy spaces—written by contributors who designed and implemented these innovative communication programmes.

The toolkit is intended for a broad range of energy communicators who are, irrespective of their sectorial or disciplinary affiliation, working towards better informing the public on multifaceted knowledge about energy—an indispensable resource that sustains our modern way of life.

Project team

  • Hiroki Shin, Research Fellow , Science Museum
  • Ben Russell, Curator of Medical Engineering, Science Museum
  • Prof Frank Trentmann, Professor of History, Birkbeck College, University of London
  • Dr Heather Chappells, Lecturer, University of British Columbia,
  • Dr Vanessa Taylor, Lecturer, University of Greenwich
  • Dr Rebecca Wright, Lecturer, University of Northumbria