Stories of Change

2014 – 2017


Research team
Joe Smith (OU, geography); Rosie Day (Birmingham, geography); Axel Goodbody (Bath, literature); Karen Lewis (South Wales, Creative Industries); Bradon Smith (Bath/OU, literature); Renata Tyszczuk (Sheffield, architecture); Julia Udall (Sheffield, architecture); Nicola Whyte (Exeter, history); Zdenek Zdrahal and team (OU, Knowledge Media Institute). Our core-team arts organisation partners are Peter Gingold (Tipping Point) and Yvette Vaughan-Jones (Visiting Arts). Additionally we have a range of community partners in South Wales and the English Midlands, and communities of interest partners around energy policy.

Research context
Public and political conversations about energy have stalled: we urgently need to revive them if we are to achieve the decarbonisation that climate change demands, and that the UK Government’s Climate Change Act commits us to. The Stories of Change project aims to encourage a more imaginative approach to current and future energy choices. Working with local communities in South Wales and the Midlands and communities of interest around energy policy, we will explore our relationship with energy — how it has changed in the past, how we think about energy now, and how we envisage it in the future.

Research questions
1. Community Co-production: What work can stories do to address disengagement and disempowerment, and catalyse energy debates and actions?
2. Shared Investigations & Social Change: How can interdisciplinary research centred on stories support more imaginative and open thinking in society at large about transformations in energy systems?
3. Digital Tools: In what ways can digital tools support more plural and dynamic accounts of society-energy relations?

Research methods
This interdisciplinary project draws on expertise in history, literature, social and policy research, community engagement and the arts — all working with stories, in one form or another. History, digital storytelling, fictional narratives, and scenarios of the future each communicate different ideas about the consequences of change for everyday life, and explain different perspectives and attitudes towards change.

Research findings
Research findings will be disseminated throughout the course of the project.

Dissemination and impact
Our publicly accessible online Stories Platform will be our tool for curating and sharing the stories created and uncovered, along with a range of research and archive material gathered throughout the project.

Research outputs
We plan an academic book – Energetic: Stories of Change — and special issues of appropriate journals. We will co-produce a range of creative outputs with our partners – to be published on the Stories Platform.