Using animal storytelling to communicate undergraduate students’ understanding of the human-nature relationship

Author: Chi-I Lin – National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan

The rich meanings and knowledge passed on in the metaphoric forms of art and stories have long provided a source for our understanding of humans’ relationship with the natural world. The approach of storytelling conveys real events, knowledge, comment on human behavior, and communal values through symbolic narrative forms. Analogized with the local daily news concerning endangered or abused animals, the use of storytelling is expected to bridge the emotional and intellectual understanding about the interdependence between human beings and their natural community. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of using storytelling, focusing on the thematic topic of animals, as an integrated part of learning about animal sciences, based in a museum’s natural history hall, while also reflecting on human impact and one’s place in nature. This study mainly addresses the following questions: what are the changes in the students’ perceptions concerning human-animal kinship? How does developing human-animal kinship influence one’s attitude toward nature? The hypothesis proposed in this study is that animal storytelling in the museum has the potential to facilitate a positive correlation between a sense of animal kinship and pro-environmental attitudes. As the mechanism of storytelling engages an analogy of different time and space, it serves as a vehicle for channeling different attitudes and activates past-present and science-art in dialogue. In this study, the Personal Meaning Map (PMM) is employed to collect the students’ perceptions of wild animals. The NEP scale is used to collect students’ environmental attitudes. The participants are 36 university students enrolled on a course entitled “Interpretation in the museum: animal studies and environmental education”. The students are engaged in creative storytelling activities. This study expects that new perspectives may be forged in defining humanity in relation to the non-human world. The implications of this study will be discussed.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Building a theoretical basis for science communication