Climate science can be difficult to understand and act on for non-scientists and many science communicators are calling for engaging narratives and more personal connections to climate change which may help in communicating these issues with the public and decision-makers alike. Virtual Reality (VR) is an ideal technology for communicating these kinds of stories. In fact the United Nations is already using VR to raise public awareness of climate change and help world leaders make important decisions around climate change. Virtual Reality is an emerging technology that can be used in novel ways to communicate climate change. It can take a person backward or forward in time and even present alternate present moments in more immersive and engaging ways. It is important to know if using novel approaches like this can increase engagement with climate change and assist adoption of research strategies and behaviours that will help Australia meet its Paris Climate Agreement targets and beyond.
HCI researchers have contributed to climate change and environmental research in subdisciplines such as Sustainability Human Computer Interaction (SHCI). Yet most of this work is focused on trying to change how much energy individuals use (demand driven and bottom-up approaches) rather than trying to change where we get our energy from (supply driven) and more systemic approaches such as facilitating policy and law change (top-down). Some researchers argue that demand driven SHCI approaches are insufficient in lowering our global energy emissions or in addressing the larger problems of climate change and that SHCI approaches could develop technology to effect more systemic change.
My research project is focusing on developing Persuasive Virtual Reality experiences to communicate climate change with the public using Human-Centred Design, whilst investigating any impact it may have on supply-driven, top-down pro-environmental behaviour. One of the goals of the research is to understand peoples’ experiences of a Climate Change Communication VR app are in large public places. Another goal of the research is to evaluate people’s engagement with the app to determine any possible impacts on climate change attitudes and behaviour.
Climate Energy College: Research Students
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Supervisors: Dr Greg Wadley and Prof Kathryn Williams