Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

CSTPR Seminar: Lesley Henderson

Communicating Plastic Pollution: The (conflicting) values of media producers, scientists & lay publics? 
by Lesley Henderson - Institute of Environment, Health and Societies Brunel University London

Abstract: Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in the marine environment and is considered to be a growing global problem. Lesley Henderson reflects on a study she is leading at Brunel University London into public perceptions, attitudes and behaviours concerning plastics. This is a unique collaboration involving social scientists, eco-toxicologists and film makers and focuses on the forthcoming documentary film ‘A Plastic Ocean’ (release in summer 2016). How has this film been specially created to raise awareness and bring about social change in regard to plastic? To what extent might there be conflicting values between entertainment and ‘science’ education? She explores the wider role of media in mediating messages and creating ‘frames of understanding’ about the associated environmental and health risks of (micro) plastics and asks ‘What are the limitations and possibilities concerning the use of documentary film for social change?’ The study involves media content analysis, online deliberative survey tools and focus groups. It will form the basis of a larger, cross-cultural project to explore plastics in society and provide insights into how we can involve the public in culturally appropriate education strategies to change our behaviour regarding plastic waste.

Biography: Lesley Henderson is Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Communications at Brunel University London. She has longstanding interests in researching media, health and science, particularly in exploring public engagement with fictional media. She has published in social science, media and medical journals and written books on social issues and political engagement.  Currently she is leading the project ‘Storytelling & Public Health: Digital Methods, Media Advocacy and Social Change’. This examines health and science communication in the age of fragmented audiences, multimedia platforms and growth in ‘entertainization’.

She tweets as @lesleyhenders


Thursday, April 7, 2016
2016 - 12:30 to 13:30




  • CIRES employees
  • CU Boulder employees
  • General Public
  • NOAA employees
  • Science collaborators


  • Seminar
  • Open to Public


CSTPR Conference Room, 1333 Grandview Avenue