Engagement in Action: Communicating Climate Change Research to Non-specialist Audiences

  • Julie Biddlecombe-Brown
  • Adam HoldenEmail author
  • Melissa Swartz
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Antarctic science is of critical importance to climate change research and the development of better ways of understanding our possible climate futures and the challenges of a changing environment. Communicating this and related messages to non-specialist audiences is a complex task that needs to combine raising awareness, challenging misconceptions and changing behaviours. This paper presents a model for collaboration and engagement between academics, curators and educators drawing on the 2015 project Antarctic Science Today at Durham University. The project centred on an exhibition of recent Antarctic research and climate change research, and was co-curated by Culture Durham exhibitions team, Antarctica researchers working from Durham University’s Department of Geography, and the British Antarctic Survey. An associated public engagement and widening participation programme based on this research provided lectures and resources for schools and the public, and was developed in collaboration with an independent specialist provider Science 4 Schools. The paper presents a summary of the project and presents practical recommendations for similar projects engaging non-academic audiences with the impact of climate change research.


Climate change Antarctica Exhibition Engagement Learning Schools 


  1. Bentley MJ, Cofaigh CÓ, Anderson, JB, Conway H, Davies B, Graham AGC, Hillenbrand C-D, Hodgson DA, Jamieson SSR, Larter RD, Mackintosh A, Smith JA, Verleyen E, Ackert RP, Bart PJ, Berg S, Brunstein D, Canals M, Colhoun EA, Crosta X, Dickens WA, Domack E, Dowdeswell JA, Dunbar R, Ehrmann W, Evans J, Favier V, Fink D, Fogwill CJ, Glasser NF, Gohl K, Golledge NR, Goodwin I, Gore DB, Greenwood SL, Hall BL, Hall K, Hedding DW, Hein AS, Hocking EP, Jakobsson M, Johnson JS, Jomelli V, Jones RS, Klages JP, Kristoffersen Y, Kuhn G, Leventer A, Licht K, Lilly K, Lindow J, Livingstone SJ, Massé G, McGlone MS, McKay RM, Melles M, Miura H, Mulvaney R, Nel W, Nitsche FO, O’Brien PE, Post AL, Roberts SJ, Saunders KM, Selkirk PM, Simms AR, Spiegel C, Stolldorf TD, Sugden DE, van der Putten N, van Ommen T, Verfaillie D, Vyverman W, Wagner B, White DA, Witus AE, Zwartz D (2009) A community-based geological reconstruction of Antarctic Ice Sheet deglaciation since the Last Glacial Maximum. Quat Sci Rev 100:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cameron F (2012) Climate change, agencies and the museum and science centre sector. Mus Manage Curatorship 27(4):317–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Crow D, Boykoff M (eds) (2014) Culture, politics and climate change: how information shapes our common future. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Dulic A, Angel J, Sheppard S (2016) Designing futures: inquiry in climate change communication. Futures 81:54–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hamlett E, Norton C, Bailey-Ross C (2015) Magna carta and the changing face of revolt: evaluation report. Palace Green Library, Durham University, DurhamGoogle Scholar
  6. Hansen A, Cox R (eds) (2015) The routledge handbook of environment and communication. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Hebda R (2007) Museums. Climate change and sustainability, museum management and curatorship 22(4):329–336Google Scholar
  8. Johnson BB (2012) Climate change communication: a provocative inquiry into motives, meanings, and means. Risk Anal 32(6):973–991CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kahan D (2014) Making climate-science communication Evidence-based: all the way down. In: Crow D, Boykoff M (eds) Culture, politics and climate change: how information shapes our common future. Routledge, London, pp 203–220Google Scholar
  10. Leal Filho W (2009) Communicating climate change: challenges ahead and action needed. Int J Clim Change Strat Manage 1(1):6–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. MacLellan P (2016) Why don’t teachers use education research in teaching? Blog entry for Royal Society of Chemistry. Accessed 10 Dec 2016
  12. Miles BWJ, Stokes CR, Jamieson SSR (2016) Pan–ice-sheet glacier terminus change in East Antarctica reveals sensitivity of Wilkes Land to sea-ice changes. Sci Adv 2:e1501350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. See BH, Gorard S, Siddiqui N (2016) Teachers’ use of research evidence in practice: a pilot study of feedback to enhance learning. Educ Res 58(1):56–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Shepherd AA, Ivins ER, Geruo A, Barletta VB, Bentley MJ, Bettadpur S, Briggs KH, Bromwich DH, Forsberg R, Galin N, Horwath M, Jacobs S, Joughin I, King MA, Lenaerts JTM, Li J, Ligtenberg SRM, Luckman A, Luthcke SB, McMillan M, Meister R, Milne G, Mouginot J, Muir A, Nicolas JP, Paden J, Payne AJ, Pritchard H, Rignot E, Rott H, Sørensen LS, Scambos TA, Scheuchl B, Schrama EJO, Smith B, Sundal AV, van Angelen JH, van de Berg WJ, van den Broeke MR, Vaughan DG, Velicogna I, Wahr J, Whitehouse PL, Wingham DJ, Yi D, Young D, Zwally HJ (2012) A reconciled estimate of ice-sheet mass balance. Science 338:1183–1189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Swartz M, Biddlecombe-Brown J, McCarrison K, Price S, Rossi A, Holden A (2016) Antarctic Science Today: an evaluation. Palace Green Library, Durham University, DurhamGoogle Scholar
  16. Whitehouse PL, Bentley MJ, Milne GA, King MA, Thomas ID (2012) A new glacial isostatic adjustment model for Antarctica: calibrated and tested using observations of relative sea-level change and present-day uplift rates. Geophys J Int 190:1464–1482CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie Biddlecombe-Brown
    • 1
  • Adam Holden
    • 1
    Email author
  • Melissa Swartz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyDurham UniversityDurhamUK

Personalised recommendations