Antonia Liguori presenting at the MeCCSA Conference on behalf of the DRY Project team

Co-designing an online ‘Utility Tool’ to bridge science and community knowledge through storytelling is the title of the paper that Dr Antonia Liguori (Lecturer in Applied Storytelling at Loughborough University) will present at the MeCCSA Conference 2020 in Brighton, UK.

This paper was thought and written in collaboration with Professor Lindsey McEwen (PI on the DRY Project) and Professor Mike Wilson (CoI on the DRY Project, leading the narrative strand of the research) on behalf of the DRY Project Consortium.


Large gaps often exist between the views of professional scientists and those of the general public (Funk et al., 2015), suggesting the public’s science literacy can challenge their understanding of complex issues (Crowther et al., 2016).  There is also considerable interest in how specialist science meets lay knowledge as an evidence base for environmental decision-making. The DRY (Drought Risk and You) Project, a 4-year project funded by UKRI Drought and Water Scarcity Programme, aimed to develop an evidence-based resource for UK drought risk management where scientific data and multiple narratives are brought together to support decision-making processes, and improve community resilience.  Having identified recurrent knowledge gaps, the DRY team undertook complex participatory processes to co-design an online ‘Utility Tool’ working with stakeholders from six sectors, with the aspiration to merge science and community knowledge through storytelling.

Working from the premise that storytelling has value in enabling different forms of knowledge, inclusivity and capitals (Goldstein 2013; Constant & Roberts 2017; Valentine & Sadgrove 2014), this paper critically reflects on our learning experiences within evolving approaches to facilitate stakeholder engagement in the ‘DRY Utility Tool’s’ development. It will explore the stakeholders’ role in choosing and shaping the methodology and evaluating two main tools: the ‘DRY Story Bank’ to make stories accessible, searchable and usable, and the ‘DRY Story Map’ to triangulate narrative, science and place. It will also describe how developing those tools, revealed critical tensions in interactions between facts and opinions, data and personal memories, and stimulated deeper reflection on beliefs that drive people’s behaviours.

Presenting author bio

Dr Antonia Liguori is a Lecturer in Applied Storytelling at Loughborough University. Her academic background is in History and Computer Science. Since 2008, she has been involved in a variety of international research projects to develop tools and methods to foster innovation in education; to explore the role of storytelling in today’s digital world; to investigate and trial ways of using digital storytelling as a participatory methodology for inter-disciplinary research. 

Over the past five years her research has been focusing on three main strands: applied storytelling on environmental issues; digital storytelling in (cultural/heritage) education; storytelling and urban design. More recently, after having joined HEART – Healing Education Animation Research Therapy, she has been exploring digital storytelling as therapeutic intervention. 

Before moving to the UK, she was the coordinator of the Multimedia Department at BAICR Sistema Cultura, in Italy, a consortium of five cultural institutions with the aim of contributing to the enhancement of the historical and cultural heritage through the use of innovative methodologies, communicative approaches and the creation of digital environments. She is also a journalist and a SEO manager.