Communicating Drivers of Environmental Change Through Transdisciplinary Human-Environment Modeling

Andrew E. F. Allison, Mark E. Dickson, Karen T. Fisher, Simon F. Thrush

Department of Energy, Office of Science, Earth & Environmental Systems Modeling Acknowledged Support: No, other Non-DOE EESM source of support



A scientific storytelling approach is used to communicate results from a transdisciplinary model of human-environment estuarine systems for the purpose of developing system understanding and improving transdisciplinary communication. Questionnaires and a media analysis are used to collate public perceptions of observed environmental change in estuarine systems, with an agent-based model developed to investigate the effects of these environmental changes and the complex network of interactions that lead to them. Five scenarios that correspond to the main public interests identified during questionnaire analyses are presented and described using a narrative textual approach; flow diagrams are used to explain model processes and interactions. We test whether the earth science storytelling approach of Phillips (2012), can be applied more broadly to transdisciplinary models of complex human-environment systems. Results indicate that all eight storytelling plots of Phillips (2012), are applicable to describing pathways within human-environment systems and are useful in succinctly explaining complex interactions within such systems; the crucial initial step is determining what needs to be communicated and subsequently deciding on appropriate plot or plots to convey the story.

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