A Fishbowl is a discussion format/method which is especially useful for interactively debating together with (science) experts and ‘laypeople’/citizens. The circular layout of the space is specially intended to stimulate dynamic discussions. The speakers (consisting of experts on the chosen topic of discussion) would be placed at the centre of a room/space with other participants sitting around them in a circle, watching and listening to their conversation as shown in the diagram by UNICEF below. The people in the outer circle act as observers, listeners, and may later also become participants. There should also be a moderator/facilitator present to remind participants of the rules and encourage them to engage. After 10-15 minutes of the speakers’ discussion, the moderator may invite participants from the outer circle to join the Fishbowl by occupying an empty chair in the middle of the circle, or by asking questions or joining the discussion with the experts in the middle. Once speakers/participants have contributed their thoughts, they may step away from the Fishbowl. Other participants are then free to fill up the empty chairs in the inner circle and join the discussion (this is overseen by the facilitator).
To discuss controversial or emotional science-related issues or societal aspects of research. Fishbowl also works very well for topics of local or regional relevance. Fishbowl events also encourage active participation and foster dynamic group interactions.
The aims of this event are for experts and citizens to take part in structured conversations. Circles of chairs are arranged in a large space, with the experts starting in the inner circle, and the other participants sitting on the outer circle. The exact method of how you want to run the event may vary. However, normally the conversation is initiated by the experts in the inner circle and when the introduction has been completed, the other participants in the outer circle can ask questions to the inner circle, or chairs can be moved or exchanged to allow new participants to take part in the conversation in the inner circle. The aim is to have a structured discussion where the members in the inner circle drive the conversation, with input from the moderator or participants sitting in the outer circles but the majority should be actively listening to the discussion and trying to avoid the whole room trying to talk to each other or all at once.
Main Event Duration: One day
Project Duration: Indefinitely repeated
It can be a single event, or it can be done several times a year depending on the popularity and demand for the event.
Find out more about resources, venues and staff here: http://steamexperiments.com/activity/fish-bowl-event/
Martin, D., Ghirxi, D., & Styles, C. (2020, September 14). Fish Bowl Event.
Retrieved from http://steamexperiments.com/activity/fish-bowl-event/
Yearly / Project Budget: 501 – 1000€
|Budget Point||Details||Yearly Cost|
||0 – 500€|
|Two months in advance||
|On the day of the event||
Single Event Structure
|Experts and moderator||
Aside from the basic equipment provided by the venue (projector, microphones, and chairs), there are no particular materials required.
Additional needs may include refreshments for the audience.