Aarhus Universitets segl

Specialeeksamen: Joao Daniel Green da Costa Ferreira Marques

Science Theater as Public Communication of Science and Technology: Contributions from a Cultural Perspective

Oplysninger om arrangementet


Fredag 23. september 2022,  kl. 13:00 - 14:00


Aud. D1 (1531-113)


Science theater appears as a particular science communication approach for its arts-based methods, and emotional and experiential involvement.

The first aim of this paper is to investigate the spectrum of practices of the science theater landscape, focusing on different social settings, social actors, and aims. Second, this paper aims to investigate how a cultural approach to science communication contributes to understand science theater. Reframing science theater from a cultural approach considers the interpretative activity and the open-ended form of experiences in science communication. It also shifts the focus to representation, identities, emotion, and fiction in processes of meaning-making.

Reviewing the science theater literature, this paper identifies a widely diverse science theater landscape, ranging from science theater in the big theater stage, in museums, in schools, in engagement of marginalized communities, and in participatory research and communication. Science theater has been shown to contribute to learning, understanding of complexity, and initiation of discussions. Although science theater is situated between both ends of the arts and science divide, it retains a pedagogical component to different degrees across practices. Yet rather than predetermined learnings, the transmission of specific science content, or policy outcomes, it favors the scaffolding of nuanced understandings and open-ended affective and experiential meaning-making processes. In this sense, affective and experiential ways of thinking play an integral part of science theater communication processes.

Thereby, science theater goes beyond the deficit and dialog models of science communication, and a cultural approach affords a new point of view. Science theater was found to be a collaborative and interdisciplinary practice where multiple modes of representation are networked to make meaning, and multiple perspectives converse and conflict. Fiction and multiple identities on stage contribute to change how science is represented, from scientific content to the social dimensions and cultural meanings of science. Furthermore, science theater was found to embed inclusive practices by contributing to the diversity in science communication and by reducing emotional and identification gaps.

Altogether, I conclude that the role of science theater is to bring science into culture. In sum, as a cultural activity, science theater extends the social conversation around science and represents science in connection with our ways of life.