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masters research paper

Phronêsis in the Face of Uncertainty and Changing Knowledge: A case study of how Dr. Henry constructs credibility and engenders trust during the COVID-19 pandemic

Public health communication during the COVID-19 pandemic has come with many novel challenges due to the heightened uncertainty of emerging disease outbreaks and the rapidly-evolving circumstances that arise as scientific evidence and knowledge accumulates. One of the most significant challenges is maintaining trust and credibility as our understanding of the virus, its spread and prevention, changes, and messaging is required to follow. Trust and credibility are widely understood as fundamental to persuasive public health communication, in ensuring public acceptance of and adherence to public health measures. Despite these new challenges, Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer, has been widely revered for her COVID-19 communications. In an effort to explore how she achieves this, this research investigates Dr. Henry’s rhetorical appeals to ethos, how she constructs herself as a character of credibility, and, more specifically, of good sense, also known as phronêsis.

Read the paper here.

"good covid citizen"


Publication - Constituting good health citizenship through British Columbia’s COVID-19 public updates 

Philippa Spoel, Naomi Lacelle, Alexandra Millar

The COVID-19 pandemic has augmented discourses of individual citizen responsibility for collective health. This article explores how British Columbia, Canada’s widely praised COVID-19 communication participates in the development of neo-communitarian “active citizenship” governmentalities focused on the civic duty of voluntarily taking responsibility for the health of one’s community. We do so by investigating how public health updates from BC’s acclaimed Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry articulate this civic imperative through the rhetorical constitution of the “good covid citizen.” Our rhetorical analysis shows how this pro-social communication interpellates citizens within a discourse of behavioral, epistemic, and ethical responsibilisation. The communal ethos constituted through this public health communication significantly increases the burden of personal responsibility for health beyond norms of self-care. Making the protection of community health primarily the responsibility of individual citizens also presumes a privileged identity of empowered, active agency and implicitly excludes citizens who lack the means to successfully fulfill the expectations of good covid citizenship.

Read the published article in Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine here.

Who are "we"? Negotiating public health authority and citizen responsibility in British Columbia's COVID-19 communication

PCST Conference 2021 - May 24-27, 2021

Rhetorically constituting the “good covid citizen” through BC’s public health updates, March – December 2020

STS Colloquium, UBC - February 16, 2022

undergraduate honours thesis

Communicating Science: Exploring the use of narrative in the top-cited academic papers in climate change and sustainability literature


The objective of this Honours Thesis is to synthesize the literature of narrative and framing theory and place it within the context of climate change science communication. Ample evidence within the literature already exists suggesting that scientists’ incorporation of narrative elements in their writing style increases the citation uptake of their articles and the public influence they embody. By more closely mirroring the way humans experience and understand the world—through storytelling—scientists have the opportunity to render their work more notable among scholarly and public audiences. In response to this, this research will look to the top 10 most-cited climate change- and sustainability-related articles and search for common trends in theme, framing, and narrative to gather insight as to what communication devices carry the most significance in an articles’ success. Using high citation uptake as a measure for a paper’s impact on advancing academics’ understanding, altering the course of climate research, and inspiring future generations, this study will deliver an in-depth profile of what narrative elements can be found in the most successful and influential works in climate change and sustainability literature. It will also offer considerable insight on how climate scientists and researchers should move forward in
communicating their results and how to increase their chances of contributing to the existing bedrock of
literature underpinning climate policy and mitigation action worldwide.

Read the paper here

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