Transmedia storytelling can be defined as the telling of one cohesive story across multiple platforms. In recent years, there has been an increase in transmedia storytelling that prompts users to take action on social issues through platforms such as online journals, documentaries, live events and social media. This form of multiplatform storytelling has become known as transmedia activism. The framework of Transmedia Activism creates social impact by using storytelling by a number of authors who share assets and create content for distribution across multiple forms of media to influence social action.”
Transmedia storytelling for social change is a developing field and how to best address climate issues using transmedia storytelling methods for youth has yet to be resolved. So far, most transmedia storytelling projects for social change, such as World Without Oil and FutureCoast, have focused on adult audiences only. It is important to explore how transmedia storytelling could be used for engaging younger audiences with social issues.
Earth Charter Indiana (ECI) is an Indianapolisbased nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to spreading information and organizing efforts to fight climate change. ECI’s youth program Youth Power Indiana aims to inspire young people to tackle climate change and social inequality and promote youth driven climate stewardship and civic leadership. ECI wants to expand their mission to Muncie, Indiana in an effort to educate Muncie youth about the direct effects climate change has on their lives and how to positively mitigate climate change. However, ECI faces three major challenges to accomplishing their mission as an organization: 1) increasing climate literacy among youth in Indiana, 2) decreasing climate change apathy, and 3) providing youth with a platform to express their concerns about climate issues to the decision makers of their community. Thus, this creative project will address these issues through a nonfiction transmedia storytelling experience in Muncie to raise awareness of climate change among youth ages 10 to 13. This creative project will also explore the extent to which transmedia storytelling can increase awareness of climate issues among youth in their community by employing simple metrics to assess the success of the project in meeting its goals.
This project will be preceded by extensive academic research focused on the issue of climate change and its effects, and youths’ (10-13 years old) perceptions of climate change. Semistructured interviews with experts will inform an understanding of what youth ages 10-13 know about climate issues and how to motivate youth to take action in their communities. Group discussions with students ages 10-13 at the YMCA of Muncie and Burris Laboratory School will be conducted to better understand their existing knowledge of climate change and climate issues. Design Thinking exercises will facilitate ideas for project development with stakeholders. This project will be produced using the Transmedia Activism Framework.
In addition to contributing a new initiative to Earth Charter Indiana’s current programs, this project will contribute to conversations within the area of transmedia storytelling for youth and social change. It will explore why younger people are disengaged or concerned about climate change and what motivates them to take climate action in their communities. On a larger scale, this project could determine whether the design of ECI’s transmedia storytelling experience in Muncie is worth replicating in other cities. It is crucial to explore solutions that might help further the knowledge on climate change education and adaptation and engage younger generations with the issue of climate change.