Research Outreach Blog
January 27, 2024

National Storytelling Week

Throughout history and across cultures around the world, the art of storytelling has been central to the progression and enjoyment of human life, enabling culture, tradition, myth, and legends to be passed down. National Storytelling Week celebrates the tradition of storytelling and aims to inspire a new generation of storytellers to educate, entertain, and engage as their forebears have been doing for millennia.

While ‘storytelling’ often conjures up the idea of tales told around the campfire, in fact it is a vastly versatile tool which can be used in a range of fields. Science communication is one such field. Storytelling is an important component for disseminating research throughout academic communities, and to audiences beyond these spheres. It is a way of conveying academic research clearly; breaking barriers to make science more accessible. Just as traditional storytelling is a significant educational and emotive tool that brings people together, science communication is essential for sharing the theories, practices, and discoveries of research that can foster global collaboration.

Read on to explore articles published by Research Outreach that tell the story of academic research. To celebrate National Storytelling Week, these articles have been especially selected as they distil exciting research into the importance of storytelling and how stories can differ depending on context.

Storytelling across social divides

Dr Joanna Wheeler’s research has been conducted through her role as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University. Her interests lie in increasing inclusion among marginalised groups. To do this, she explores storytelling and other creative methods to bridge social divides. Most importantly, Wheeler advocates for intersectional participatory action research. This, she contends, can help to generate understanding of differences and overcome negative stereotypes caused by exclusionary narratives, such as those around migration.

When children’s storytelling says so much more

We take for granted that our children tell stories. But what if they can’t? Oral storytelling is a bridge to literacy, yet many children do not develop this skill naturally. Research has shown that narrative skill at school entry predicts writing and reading comprehension up to ten years later. Narrative intervention is a form of language therapy and a classroom instructional approach that leverages personally and culturally relevant oral storytelling to promote school success. Drs Trina Spencer and Douglas Petersen in the US have developed ten principles of narrative intervention that can help guide practice.

Effective storytelling can be challenging.

The Story Collider: Communicating the stories of science

The Story Collider is an organisation with a simple yet vital task: to collect and relay stories about science. This task is fundamentally collaborative, involving an assortment of global voices from across every demographic. There are very few lives, after all, which have not been touched in some inexplicable way by the capabilities of modern science. Research Outreach were privileged to catch up with Erin Barker, the Executive Director and co-founder of The Story Collider, and host of its popular weekly podcast. Erin is herself a highly successful storyteller. She has won The Moth’s GrandSLAM storytelling competition twice – the first woman to do so – and her stories have been featured across public radio. We spoke to her about the fascinating business of storying science.

Master and counter narratives: Same facts – different stories

The research of Professor Michael Bamberg of Clark University is dedicated to understanding narratives and the dynamics of narratives. His studies outline how dominant narratives emerge and how counter narratives get created and believed. Through the analysis of narrative practices, Bamberg proposes that we can intentionally begin to present stories that enable social change, by looking beyond the story, to uncover and challenge the assumptions behind dominant narratives.

Want to read more articles like this?

Sign up to our mailing list and read about the topics that matter to you the most.
Sign Up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *