Storytelling Projects Communicate Science


Can you change the world in five minutes? Maybe not. But geography professor Evan Fraser figures five minutes is enough time to share key messages about feeding a growing and ever-more hungry world.

This month and next on his “Feeding 9 Billion” blog, he’s releasing four short animated videos on aspects of food security. Fraser hopes his series will spark discussion and ideas about how to produce enough food for a projected world population of nine billion people by 2050.

This month, he posted videos on biotechnology and food, and sustainable food policies. Up next are shorts on food distribution policies and local food; he’s lined up four more videos for the website in the spring.

The series is aimed at food and policy experts and the general public alike, says Fraser, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security. He writes and narrates the videos, which are illustrated by Scott Mooney, a Guelph art grad and full-time illustrator.

Also online is more detailed information about the video topics – including links to news and information about food security issues – and a discussion forum. Besides projected population growth, food demand will be affected by climate change, dwindling water supplies and energy prices, says Fraser.

The project is funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Fraser works with other researchers and writers on the project, including U of G students.

One is geography master’s student Cayla Albrecht, who grew up on a dairy farm and is interested in agriculture and farming systems. “People are more curious about where their food is coming from,” she says.

That broad interest is what drives the project, says Fraser. “We need to do a better job of communicating research in non-conventional ways.” That’s why he’s also planning to write a graphic novel with Mooney about the global food system. Fraser’s work is based on science, but he says “this moves us into storytelling.”