Article 15 may 2024


Mark Henriksen & Liisa Lähteenmäki | Aarhus University

Written by Mark Henriksen & Liisa Lähteenmäki | Aarhus University

FOODSTORIES will develop new educational materials that summarise how storytelling can be applied to food science communication as an effective tool to explain findings to non-expert audiences.

The teaching material, including the recently published handbook, aims to encourage teachers and students within the fields of food science and technology to improve their science communication skills so that they can share their valuable knowledge with wider audiences. The educational materials will demonstrate how to implement elements of storytelling, such as characters, plot devices, dramaturgy, etc., into their science communication to make the content more relatable and memorable to non-experts.

There are many advantages to combining storytelling and science communication. This may appear counterintuitive since storytelling is anecdotal in nature, and therefore potentially unverifiable, biased, and oversimplifying. These are all attributes that should be avoided in science. The tools we develop in the project will address some of these potential pitfalls.

However, people are inherently prone to focus on stories. Complex information is easier to understand and remember when the information is presented in the form of a narrative. For example, in a direct comparison with expository text, narrative text was read twice as fast and recalled twice as well, regardless of topic familiarity or interest in the content itself.

The project idea was developed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, during which many experts struggled to provide the public with clear information. This resulted in a lot of people feeling confused or misinformed. Arguably, a lot of the confusion was caused by failure to communicate. While scientists generally have been told to avoid storytelling, it is no secret that news media and other public voices will use storytelling with no hesitation. Therefore, it is important to add storytelling techniques to scientists’ communication toolbox as well.


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