Science Slam in the Münchner Volkshochschule: on animals and humans
Munich, 31 March 2023
It is no mean feat for a scientist to get people interested in a topic in just ten minutes. This was the challenge taken on by six slammers at a Science Slam jointly organised by acatech, Münchner Volkshochschule, the Deutsches Museum and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the Münchner Volkshochschule on 28 March. The theme of the Slam was “On humans and animals”. A presentation that delivered a critique of factory farming and cultured meat went down the best with the audience.
Theme of the year 2023 at the Münchner Volkshochschule is “Schicksalsgenossen – von Menschen & Tieren” (Humans and animals – a shared fate), which happens to be a suitable theme for a Science Slam as well. On 28 March six slammers faced off in the premises of the Münchner Volkshochschule to offer the audience fresh perspectives on the theme in a mix of information and entertainment. The event was jointly hosted by acatech, Münchner Volkshochschule, the Deutsches Museum and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society.
The slammers each brought along plenty of visual aids for their performances, which were limited to ten minutes, including slides, films, live insects and insect food. One slammer dressed up as a blueberry; another got a member of the audience to come up on stage to see things from a cow’s perspective.
An overview of the Slam presentations:
- Bernadette Pest, Masters student of film and media culture research at LMU Munich, discussed heteronormativity in animal documentaries. The title of her presentation was “Homosexual animals – and where they can’t be seen”
- Herpetologist Frank Glaw from the State Collection for Zoology, who specialises in every aspect of amphibians and reptiles in his professional life, spoke on this evening about his hobby “Why do people have so little empathy for insects?”. He focussed on grasshoppers – and even brought some along. They were perfectly calm while he spoke and for the rest of the event, and lots of people came up for a closer look at them.
- Wolfgang Müller (Coordinator for Cattle Farming with Bayerische Staatsgüter in Grub) gave the audience an impression of the world from a cow’s perspective, illustrating how animal welfare can be improved in cattle farming.
- Anneke van Heteren (Bavarian State Collection for Zoology) transported the audience to Taiwan with an account of the life, death and excavation of a fossilised whale.
- Thassilo Franke (Munich Science Communication Lab) dressed up as a blueberry for his discussion of ecological equilibrium, which centred on bumblebees in Latin America.
- Christian Rombeck is doing his doctorate at the University of Erfurt on the ecological impact of global livestock farming and the possible solutions that cultured meat can offer – which was also the subject of his Slam presentation.
The room in the events centre of the Münchner Volkshochschule, Einstein 28, was full to capacity. The event brought together attendees of the Volkshochschule, members of the acatech family and museum visitors. After the Slam, it was over to the audience: grouped around tables, separate teams discussed the presentations and voted on which ones they found particularly engaging and perspective-expanding. In the end, Christian Rombeck got the most points and was presented with the two-kilogram tome on technology published by Beck-Verlag “Die Welt der Technik in 100 Objekten” by acatech member Helmuth Trischler.
There will be another Slam at acatech and in Munich: On 6 May as part of Münchner Wissenschaftstage.
Theme of the year at the MVHS: Schicksalsgenossen – von Menschen & Tieren (Humans and animals – a shared fate)
Book: Can Science Be Witty? Science Communication Between Critique and Cabaret