CONNECTING AUSTRALIAN, PACIFIC AND INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE ENGAGEMENT NETWORKS
The Falling Walls Engage Hub Australia provides a platform and connecting nod for regional and international Science Engagement practitioners to come together and envision new cross-cultural collaborations in the vast field of Science Engagement. The Hub is hosted by the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) and managed by Paul Richards, Director of Communications and Outreach at the AAS.
The Falling Walls Engage Hub Australia launched in May and June 2021 during an exciting workshop and theatre event which gathered leading experts, Science Engagement practitioners, local and international audiences to jointly explore pressing topics in Science Engagement.
LAUNCH EVENT: COMBINING SCIENCE COMMUNICATION AND ART
Hub participants were invited to learn and experiment with creative approaches during a virtual community workshop held on 22 April 2021. The workshop provided a space to share individual practices and discuss challenges and gaps in the industry.
The workshop included a science poetry activity with Prof. Sam Illingworth and a presentation of Ken Dutton Regester around the Cancer Art Gallery!, based in Brisbane. In the second part, we were joined by Prof. Joan Leach, Director of the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science in Canberra who discussed Australia’s pathway in Science Communication and explored its societal impact.
‘What if Scientists ruled the world?’—a unique Forum Theater experiment
On 8 May 2021, a group of science communicators and actors performed ‘What if Scientists Ruled the World’ at the Shine Dome in the Australian Academy — a play developed with the Canberra-based theatre company Rebus Theatre.
Starting with a pollution incident in a factory, the story explores the complex chains of actions and behaviours that contributes to shape a political controversy and its consequences in the local community. Initial material for the story were sourced by theatre directors Ali Clinch and Robin Davidson during the Hub community workshop, where Hub participants were invited to reflect on the challenges and dilemmas they encounter in their daily practice.
Following the ethos of Forum Theatre, the play was designed to provide a space for participation and critical engagement. 85 people attending in-person at the Shine Dome together with the online audience – and a group of 4 Science Engagers connecting remotely – were invited to influence the unfolding scenario. With ingenious creativity and humour, characters and the public worked together to explore different facets of the story, revealing the complexity of scientific truth in our modern societies.
This performance was co-produced by Falling Walls Engage and the AAS, and directed by the team of Rebus Theatre.
You can watch the replay below.