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Goldman Prize winner to study and create energy narratives, promote sustainable energy use

04/29/2013

Senior Allison McGillvray is the recipient of the $34,000 Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Prize (photo by Scott Kissell)
Senior Allison McGillvray is the recipient of the $34,000 Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Prize (photo by Scott Kissell)
Miami University senior Allison McGillivray, recipient of the $34,000 Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Prize, will spend a year after graduation pursing her passion to become a writer-activist through the study and creation of energy narratives.

The Goldman prize annually allows a Miami senior to realize a dream. It gives students with exceptional promise the gift of time to pursue ideas and activities that will enrich their later work and careers. The prize is believed to be among the largest undergraduate awards in the country.

McGillivray, an English literature and professional writing double major and history minor from Massillon, is passionate about promoting sustainable energy use. As a former campus editor of The Miami Student, she also believes that “nothing motivates people to action like a story.”

She will research and create her own stories that “focus attention on an energy resource, harvested, consumed, depleted or restored,” according Anita Mannur, assistant professor of English and McGillivray’s adviser. “She will then build a website for her energy narratives, inviting online guests to engage and respond.”

Energy narratives

“An ‘energy narrative’ is a term of my own creation,” McGillivray said. It is “ a work of fiction in any medium that tells the story of a people or environment surrounding an energy resource when a third party or the people surrounding the resource attempt to harvest it for personal use.”

Her project is twofold. In the first part she will write a research paper, tracing the energy narrative from its first appearance to contemporary accounts and how it has changed. She will research how energy use is portrayed in fictional narratives, which "include everything from creation myths to novels to music videos,” McGillivray said.

In the second part she will create her own energy narratives through the use of digital media, including photography, podcasting, visual design, film, music and web design.

The narratives as well as the findings of the study will be hosted on an original website and promoted through a use of social media, McGillivray said.

“My goal is to use these digital media tools to create fictional energy narratives that may persuade my audience to take a more active role in the promotion of sustainable energy use.”

Mannur said that McGillivray “sees her work in the context of how popular culture and media have created narratives that address this same issue. How can stories intervene and make people reflect on their own energy consumption?“

McGillivray’s experience at Miami has prepared her well for both parts of her project.

She is a current member of the Student Technology Advisory Council for IT services, and a student employee in IT services communications.

She was a member of the staff of The Miami Student for three years, and recently finished a term as its campus editor. She is also co-president of Miami’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society.

Passion for the project
“I am passionate about this project because it combines my interests and because it will provide me with the opportunity to help inspire a solution to a problem that I believe not only plagues society today but also will plague society in the future,” McGillivray said. “I believe this project will help me become … a ‘writer-activist’.”

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