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Communicating Material Cultures of Energy: Five Challenges for Energy Communication


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.


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.

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


Knowledge exchange

On 19 December, the project held its first knowledge exchange session on ‘object-based’ energy communication. The event was attended by partners/collaborators from BEIS, EDF Energy, Electricity North West, Carbon Co-op, Community Energy England, Museum of Science and Industry.

Study event

Study event on disaster prevention in the energy industry, On 6 December, 20 students from Saijo High School, Japan, attended a study event on disaster prevention in the energy industry, organised by the project.

Energy Quiz

On 24 October, the project organised an energy quiz as part of ‘Power: Late’ at the Museum of Science & Industry. This event combined short talks on how energy has been promoted through the twentieth century through various communication media:

  • Rebecca Wright (University of Northumbria) talked about  ‘the music of electricity’ taking the example of Woody Guthrie’s 'Roll on Columbia'.
  • Jan Hicks (Museum of Science & Industry) presented on the Manchester Corporation’s all-electric demonstration houses in the 1920s.
  • Hiroki Shin's (Science Museum) talk introduced the ‘Battle for Fuel’ exhibition during the Second World War.
After these talks, speakers and the audience interacted through a number of quiz questions.