When stories make the context disappear

part of Engagement tools for scientific governance

Barbara Streicher is the executive manager of the Austrian Science Center Netzwerk, a network grouping over ninety Austrian institutions committed to science communication activities. Barbara used discussion games on many different occasions, all of which were outside a museum, and took place in places such as cafés, libraries, schools, but also shelters for homeless people and prisons. The communication exchange among participants always proved to be very open and respectful at the same time, even when the topics dealt with were especially sensitive and in social distress conditions. The game experiences were generally positive, whatever the places they were set in. The negative aspects are totally irrelevant and basically concern the time limitation and, in some cases, language difficulties. However, in her experience, there is still not an involvement of decision makers, and therefore it can be said that participation games are a way to help people form an opinion on controversial issues rather than an instrument with an impact on democratic governance.