Crossing the water for citizen participation

03. May 2021

Crossing the water for citizen participation

The “AnthropoScenes” experimental laboratory will begin on July 1st

Professor Jörg Neunner wants to intensify the dialogue between researchers and the public © WISTA Management GmbH

Knowledge transfer, equal exchange, democratic participation: modern science not only wants to communicate results, but also to discuss them in a low-key way. Motives should flow from the population to the research. With the creation of so-called experimental laboratories for scientific communication, the University of Berlin Alliance recently awarded a contract for a project with the participation of Adlershof. The movie “AnthropoScenes”, which will start in July, will use theatrical formats to engage the residents. The interdisciplinary project focuses on the topic of water, coordinated by the Anthropocene Theater and the Integrated Research Institute on Transformations of Human and Environmental Systems (IRI THESys).

In Brandenburg, water is more scarce than anywhere else in Europe – which is one reason that toilets have been researched extensively here for years. But it’s not just researchers at these latitudes are concerned about droughts and extreme weather events: “Whether forest fires, torrential rains or floods – the consequences of climate change are already clearly noticeable to residents in Berlin and Brandenburg,” says Joerg Neuenner, AnthropoScenes spokesperson and lead director of IRI THESys at Humboldt University in Berlin. “In contrast to the often abstract topics that are negotiated in science, there is a direct concern here: You immediately understand why this topic is relevant to the research. That is why it is suitable for working with people in a participatory manner.” In the three years Next, Niewöhner and his colleagues want to focus on the findings of water-related research and, in close collaboration with the public, explore how they might have lived under the harsh regional conditions.

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Water researchers from the region, including geographers from Adlershof, should submit the content. Artists from Anthropocene theater develop theatrical performances from this. Budget permitting, the AnthropoScenes team also wants to send their theater on a bus ride through Brandenburg. “The key is that it’s an open process,” says Niewöhner. This means that the scientific content is discussed with the audience and the discussion results flow back into the presentations, but also into the research itself. Finally, the team will collect their findings and incorporate them into the game presentation format that will be presented to international audiences at the Humboldt Laboratory in 2024.

“We want to create formats that give people more opportunities to participate in the research,” confirms Jörg Niewöhner. The public must participate in scientific processes earlier and more intensely than has been the case thus far. Plus, it’s important that you always not only reach out to retired faculty who set an example with scholarly communication. With the help of the theatrical methods to be developed here, the project team hopes to lay the groundwork for a long-term collaboration between the University of Berlin alliance and the residents. We are facing massive social unrest like the Green Deal. Science and society must address these socio-environmental shifts together. With AnthropoScenes we hope to support and enhance this exchange. “

Written by Nora Lessing for Adlershof Journal

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