We all look at the world around us through particular filters or frames. These frames reflect our values, our worldview, our knowledge and experience and they have everything to do with how we perceive and react to events and issues. When interpreting climate change, it's important to use frames that will resonate with your audience. Frames that are consistent with the values the audience holds in common can be very successful—interconnectedness, responsible management, future generations (legacy). Framing intentionally structures an opportunity for the audience to experience a visual, auditory or other sensory experience of the resource. Typically, framing includes four key elements.
- Connect with a value
- Use an analogy to explain the issue
- Present a simple causal chain that links the issue to behavior
- Encourage participation in actions to solve the issue
A sample conversation might sound something like this:
Carbon dioxide acts like a blanket, trapping heat near the Earth's surface. Burning stuff to make energy is one of the major causes of increased carbon dioxide which is thickening that blanket. When we reduce our energy use or get energy from sustainable sources, we make less carbon dioxide and slow climate change. You can make a difference by turning down your thermostat, driving less, writing your representatives, supporting sound energy policies and much more.
Framing elements can stand on their own or be part of a larger conversation. See how this interpreter uses a causal chain to link the visitor's behavior to changes in glacier extent.
Framing can also involve sharing multiple points of view from which something is considered or evaluated. In the following video, a skeptical visitor initiates the conversation and asks a question. The interpreter responds by asking the skeptic to explain their situation, and then frames the issue of diminishing salmon runs from multiple points of view for this skeptical audience.
When a visitor at a Wetlands exhibit asks about the drought, the interpreter shares the impacts of drought and climate change on different regions of the world.
In the following videos, interpreters use framing techniques including values, causal chains, analogies and solutions to talk about climate change in conversations with unaware and supportive audiences.
When interpreting climate change, it’s important to use frames that will resonate with your audience. Frames that are consistent with the values of the audience can be very successful.
Interpretive Technique: Framed Conversation (Salmon)
This is what an entire framed conversation might look like from beginning to end. The interpreter uses the values of legacy and responsible management, a causal chain, and an analogy to frame the issue of changing salmon runs in Alaska. She finishes by offering actions the guest can take to be part of the solution.
Interpretive Technique: Framed Conversation (Harbor Seals)
This is what an entire framed conversation might look like from beginning to end. The interpreter uses the value of protection, a causal chain, and an analogy to frame the issue of changes to harbor seal populations in Alaska. She finishes by offering actions the guest can take to be part of the solution.
Interpretive Technique: Framing - Values & Analogy (Harbor Seals)
Here the interpreter uses the value of interconnectedness and the analogy of the ocean as the heart of the climate to frame the issue of harbor seal population changes in Alaska.
Interpretive Technique: Framing - Causal Chain & Analogy (Harbor Seals)
The visitor wants to learn more about what's impacting harbor seals in Alaska. The interpreter shares a causal chain and the heat-trapping blanket analogy to frame the conversation.
Interpretive Technique: Framing - Values & Solutions (Harbor Seals)
The visitor asks the interpreter what she can do to help the situation and the interpreter uses the value of interconnectedness to provide some ideas for community scale solutions.