Author: Marianne Achiam, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Co-authors: Mairéad Hurley, Laura Conner, Sabrina Vitting-Seerup

Format: Problem-solving workshop

This workshop introduces and discusses arts-based approaches as a way to enable boundary crossing in science communication and education. By acknowledging and harnessing multiple modes of knowing and sense-making, arts-based (or STEAM) approaches can not only transcend the disciplinary possibilities of both the sciences and the arts, they can also prompt equitable and participatory forms of science communication. Arts-based approaches thus have the potential to promote cognitive, experiential and emotional engagement with complex, trans-disciplinary topics, such as sustainability, climate change and the biodiversity crisis.

In this workshop, we will first share practical experiences and empirical research into arts-based methods in undertaking science communication and education activities. Speakers’ experiences
range from training science communicators, to community-building for climate mitigation, and professional development of educators from formal and informal contexts.

Next, we will carry out a “Thought Swap” exercise in order to elicit participants’ thinking about the role of emotion and sensory experience in science education and communication, and what that might offer audiences. In this technique, participants create two lines facing each other. The session leaders introduce a prompt, and facing pairs discuss the prompt. Each partner summarises their partners’ thoughts in a quick share out to the group. Participants then pair with the next person in line for the next prompt. Prompts will take a point of departure in the presented experiences and research.

Finally, we will draw out the main points of the “Thought Swap” exercise and engage participants in a more general discussion, offering perspectives from recent research.

The workshop speaks directly to the theme of the conference because it engages participants – researchers and practitioners – in collaborating and co-creating knowledge about arts-based
methods in science communication and education. It thus directly demonstrates the expansion of epistemological perspectives that characterises arts-based methods.