During course work in the MSc Environmental Governance at the University of Freiburg, we developed an innovative and effective means of communicating complex scientific, environmental and policy messages to academic audiences and the public, particularly in regard to sustainable consumption. The concept, known as, Scientific Theatre, combines expert knowledge with theatrical performance in an engaging and entertaining manner. Scientific Theatre, which is specifically aimed at adult audiences, is very versatile and may be used to convey various scientific issues in a manner specifically designed to increase the public connection with, and understanding and appreciation of, important policy issues.
The concept of Scientific Theatre was originally coined by development organisations as an educational tool for communities in developing countries, seeking to present complex scientific issues in an understandable way. We have reframed the concept as an innovative approach to academic discussions and seminars - by combining scientific knowledge with artistic expression, we appeal to the emotions, thus engaging participants at a deeper level than can be achieved through mere intellectual argumentation. The concept involves theatrical performances focusing on various issues surrounding a scientific topic. During and after the performances, the actors encourage discussion and participation with the audience. In this way, Scientific Theatre can address dilemmas and questions around scientific topics in a personal, emotional and comprehensible manner.