Using poetry to level hierarchies in the communication of science

Using poetry to communicate science


One aspect of science communication involves looking at the way in which the sciences are communicated between scientists and non-scientists, and this project is particularly interested in moving beyond the deficit model of explanation, and instead incorporating upstream engagement and co-development strategies to develop genuine two-way dialogues.

Such methodologies are not only beneficial to the members of society who are affected by the issues that are described by the research (e.g. biotechnology, engineering, sustainability, and climatology, etc.), but also to the scientists doing the research, as they can draw on the tacit, local knowledge of the communities to improve their own knowledge and understanding.

However, the adaptation of such an approach is problematic, as despite the best intentions of researchers, a hierarchy of intellect is often established when people are encouraged to converse on a topic in which there is a perception that one of the parties is an expert and the other is not.

This project aims at analysing the extent to which poetry can be used as an effective faciliatory tool to help level these hierarchies.

Project goals:

  • To create a framework for using poetry to help facilitate dialogue between scientists and non-scientists.
  • To investigate the extent to which this dialogue can help elicit action in terms of the needs of the non-scientists.
As part of this project the successful PhD applicants will be fully involved in the whole research process, from design to dissemination.

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Research team leader: Dr Sam Illingworth

I am a Senior Lecturer in Science Communication with a background in interdisciplinary studies; I am in the School of Biological Sciences at UWA. My research is focused on the looking at ways in which science can be used to empower society. In particular I use poetry and games to help establish dialogue between scientists and non-scientists.


How to Apply 

Check criteria
  • To be accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy, an applicant must demonstrate they have sufficient background experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete, and provide evidence of English language proficiency
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  • After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, contact to proceed with your application