Louisa Hadley first found it difficult to explain her master's degree research at UNBC to her friends and family. When she entered the 2020 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Storytelling Competition, which included a video submission, it helped her better understand the significance of her research around climate change.
Entering a challenging Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Storytelling (SSHRC) competition turned out to be exactly what Louisa Hadley needed to communicate, or further explain her master’s thesis research around climate change.
After submitting a three-minute video called Removing Barriers to Climate Action, Hadley, a University of Northern British Columbia Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Master of Arts student, was among the Top 25 finalists selected in the 2020 SSHRC Storytelling competition. Its purpose is for post-secondary students to show Canadians how SSHRC-funded research is affecting our lives and the world for the better.
Hadley’s master’s thesis, which she explained in her SSHRC submission, found that based on an online experiment, compared to the carbon tax, “personal carbon trading was significantly better at providing the public with the knowledge about reducing their direct carbon emissions.”
She also discovered that “carbon trading was perceived to be significantly more effective in enabling Canadians to reduce their carbon consumption.”
Personal carbon trading is a cap and trade system where individuals are assigned their own carbon allocations for carbon emissions. Allocations are deposited into a carbon account. Emissions can be bought and sold on the market. Over time, individual allocations are decreased to meet national targets.
“The process of developing the script for the video, and deciding what story I wanted to tell with my research helped me better understand the significance of my research, and has since helped me streamline my thesis, and my thesis defence presentation in particular,” Hadley says. “Now when somebody asks me what my research is about, I can easily summarize it within a few sentences.”
Submissions were judged based on creativity/engagement, persuasiveness and clarity.
To be eligible to apply for the storytelling competition, students’ research had to be funded by SSHRC. In Hadley’s case, she held a SSHRC Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Research Scholarship-Master’s. She came to UNBC to work in Dr. Loraine Lavallee's Environmental Psychology research lab on a project investigating individual-level environmental cap and trade systems.
One of her fellow UNBC master’s colleagues mentioned the competition to Hadley who thought it would be “fun to put together a video, and it seemed like a great way to share my research with a wider audience,” she explains.
“When I first started my degree, family and friends would often ask me what my research was about and I found it difficult to explain the essence of my work concisely in everyday language.”
Hadley, who successfully defended her master’s thesis in April, was one of five post-secondary students from B.C. universities who were selected as SSHRC Storytelling finalists. Each finalist receives $3,000. The Top 25 Storytellers represent 19 post-secondary institutions across Canada.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the next phase of the competition has been postponed. In 2021, she’ll have the opportunity to attend a SSHRC Research Communications Workshop and present a version of her submission at the Storytellers Showcase at the 2021 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Alberta. The top-five winners from that event will be featured at SSHRC’s Impact Awards ceremony in the fall of 2021.
In the meantime, Hadley, who hails from Burlington, Ont. and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, is continuing her part-time research assistant job at UNBC with the Environment Community Health Observatory (ECHO) Network.