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Past Courses

WiSe 2023-2024: Lecture and Practicum "Discuss and Communicate Biodiversity"

Dr. Annika Guse (Molecular biologist), Guse Lab
Dr. KD Dijkstra (Field guide author and naturalist)
Dr. Mascha Gugganig (sociocultural anthropologist and scholar of science & technology studies)

This course aims to provide insight into the biological sciences’ role in society and their contribution to a sustainable world, for example in the conservation and the popularization of biodiversity. To do that, the students will be exposed to multidisciplinary lectures, guided interactive discussions, practical exercises and creative techniques. We will focus on the potential of interacting with other disciplines such as the social sciences and creative communication to reach a broad audience and increase societal impact. The students will work in groups to explore the topic biodiversity from different angles and create an artistic interpretation of their multidisciplinary findings on “biodiversity” to be shown publicly in the display cabinets at the Biozentrum.

Over the course of two weeks, the students learned to apply the social scientific method of qualitative interviewing and analyzing, as well as turning their data into a visual artefact or medium. A total of five groups interviewed a social, natural or environmental scientist on how they study "biodiversity", learning how different disciplinary perspectives can enrich our understanding thereof.

The first group entitled its project “Ein Tropfen auf den heißen Stein” (“A drop in the bucket”), and was inspired by a quote from an interview with an evolutionary biologist. When asked whether local community projects to sustain biodiversity are enough, he responded that ‘even many drops make a stone cold’ ('auch viele Tropfen machen den Stein kalt‘). Playing on this German saying, for the display the team created a large stone placed on a lava-like ground, with many drops symbolizing different initiatives to enhance biodiversity. Among others, and based on a second interview with an environmental social scientist, they added a platform that critically investigates what specific offset markets to enhance biodiversity effectively do.

 Group 2 was tasked with interviewing a behavioral ecologist and a scholar in science & technology studies (STS), who had different yet also overlapping perspectives on what it means to study "biodiversity." For their display "We need to talk: Biodiversity from a biologist’s and a social scientist’s perspective" at the Faculty (display next to the cafe in the foyer), the students decided to create large letters of "BIODIVERSITY" and adorn them with speech bubble quotes by the interviewed scholars. To display the different disciplinary perspectives, they chose to position the individual letters – also visualizing different ecosystems - in different angles or upside down, inviting us to reflect that there are many ways to understand biodiversity. The QR-code offers an audio guide guiding viewers through the display.

The third group was concerned with an often-neglected aspect of the term "invasive species" and its use in the media. By combining philosophical insights from an environmental humanities scholar and biological insights from a wasps specialist, they created a short film in which they problematized media discourses on the “invasive” Asian hornet in Germany. By creating and destroying a wasp nest, they intended to illustrate the negative effects such linguistic choices can have on the image of such species. The students saw the value of philosophical approaches to biology in widening their understanding of how terms like “invasive species” can perpetuate old thought styles and lead to further aversions of “the foreign”, while the human is often a central part of their transmission (through their mobility in trade, globalization, etc.). As they write, “biodiversity not only describes biological diversity and species diversity, but the entire diversity of life, which also includes other disciplines as social sciences“. The artwork is also displayed in one display in the foyer.

Group 4 had the opportunity to interview an urban ecologist and a scholar in urban landscape planning on biodiversity in the city. With their project “Munich unfold – the hidden biodiversity”, the students intended to show the often invisible, biodiverse side of urban spaces. For their display at the faculty, they decided for an artistic format that integrated two images, though each only being visible from one side: either seeing a few species in the city, or an abundance of species. Together with quotes by the interviewees displayed in speech bubbles, the display invites viewers to look more closely when walking through the city, as a ‘change of perspective’ can reveal so much more biodiversity.

Group 5 interviewed entitled its project "Taking a closer look on biodiversity", which they implemented through the means of a digital "infinite zoom" story. Having interviewed a marine biologist and a sociologist of science and policy, their strategy was to combine the micro level of the smallest marine organisms with the 'macro level' of humans' policy decision-making on biodiversity measures.

The students presented their works at a vernissage on Friday, March 22nd, 2024, to their colleagues, faculty, friends and family, and they are still on display, so come check them out!



WiSe 2023-2024: Lecture "Introduction to Life Sciences in Society"

In contemporary times, almost any aspect of life is impacted by science. Whether it is the awareness of biodiversity loss, or conveying scientific information in a diverse media landscape: new scientific discoveries and technological innovations continuously widen our understanding of life, and with it how life sciences are embedded in societal institutions and cultural norms. This raises a number of questions: how should biologists engage with the ethical and moral implications of new (bio-)technologies, such as xenotransplantation or gene editing? How should novel technologies be regulated within democratic societies? And what do scientists need to consider when doing science communication and engaging with heterogeneous publics?

This lecture introduces biology students and others to the field of science and technology studies (STS), science communication studies, and related disciplines and fields. We will discuss key theories and concepts to analyze a range of contemporary issues, and controversial technologies in life sciences, including genetic engineering, CRISPS/Cas9, xenotransplantation, etc. The lecture will also introduce students to communication and participation methods, such as citizen science, developed to democratise science and technology, and to engage a wider public on such issues as biodiversity loss, species extinction, or climate change, among others.

The Seminar is open to BA and MA students. Written assignments can be submitted in English or German.

Please go to LSF for more information.

WiSe 2023-2024: Seminar "Science Communication and Public Engagement"

How can scientists engage the public on life sciences? What do they need to consider when communicating the science of a (Covid-19) virus in a pandemic, or controversies around such technologies as CRISPR/Cas9 technology, genetic engineering, or xenotransplantation? What ‘issue publics’ are created as a result? Do life sciences and technology even need public participation? And, what is the role of democratic institutions, like the museum, for dealing with complex environmental issues, sciences and related technologies in public domains?

This course will introduce students to a range of participation methods and concepts, such as citizen science and 'hybrid forums', developed to democratise science and technology, and to engage a wider public concern for the environment. The course will both look at the practical design of participation formats, and offer a critical perspective by scrutinizing theories and concepts that inform them. We will focus on debates in the field of science and technology studies (STS), science communication studies, museum studies, and related fields. Students will also work in groups to design a participatory, public engagement scheme by selecting from a range of contemporary topics related to their interests.

The Seminar is open to advanced BA and MA students. Written assignments can be submitted in English or German.

SoSe 2023: Seminar Public Engagement in Science, Technology, and the Environment

This course will introduce students to a range of participation methods and concepts, such as citizen science and 'hybrid forums', developed to democratise science and technology, and to engage a wider public concern for the environment. It will both look at the practical design of participation formats, and offer a critical perspective by scrutinizing theories and approaches that inform them. We will focus on debates in the field of science and technology studies (STS), science communication studies and related fields, and apply theories and concepts to controversial issues, such as Covid-19 vaccination, GMOs, xenotransplantation, geoengineering, as well as scientific fraud and misconduct. Students will also work in groups to design a participatory, public engagement scheme by selecting a contemporary topic related to their research interests.

WiSe 2020-2021, SoSe 2021: Research Course / Forschungspraktikum

8 weeks with 40 hours; in English or German
Work with LMU’s Life Sciences in Society faculty to research content for the main exhibition of BIOTOPIA – Naturkundemuseum Bayern, currently in development, focused on behaviours, activities and processes employed across the living world (i.e. Sensing and Communicating). This will involve researching key subthemes and identifying scientific references and resources, including relevant cutting-edge research, current discourses and paradigms, potential objects from museum collections, Bio-Art works, benchmark exhibitions and public programs, and much more. Students will then propose and develop original ideas for public engagement opportunities (i.e. citizen science projects, educational workshops, etc.), focused on one of BIOTOPIA’s themes which also aligns to and supports the student’s individual study program. There is the potential to test and evaluate the proposed projects in real life with visitors to the BIOTOPIA Lab or at BIOTOPIA’s annual summer festival. There will be a written report and presentation required at the end of the course.

This is an ongoing course, please go to LSF for further details.

SoSe 2021: Life Science Communication Seminar

This three-day seminar is divided into a section on Science Communication theory, in which participants explain and discuss aspects of effective sciences communication strategies in seminar presentations, and a practical section, in which participant groups apply this knowledge to develop workshop programs around one of the content areas planned for BIOTOPIA – Naturkundemuseum Bayern, i.e. one of the "Behaviour Exhibits" of their choice for a target group of their choice for real-life implementation in the BIOTOPIA Lab.


WiSe 2021-2022: Seminar on Science Communication in times of Planetary Crisis

This seminar takes place in cooperation with the Institute for Communication Science and Media Research.

How can we communicate science effectively in a time of planetary crisis? How does misinformation shape the public discourse on topics ranging from climate change and pandemics to the biodiversity crash? What modes of communication are appropriate for different public and stakeholders of science? What role does emotion place in science communication? How should we communicate about wicked problems and complex systems? This new seminar will provide an introduction into key current concepts and literature in science communication studies, and invite students from biology and communication to work together on a developing and realizing a collaborative final project.

09.05.2022: Lehrerfortbildung zur Biodiversitätskrise bei Amphibien (in German)

Ob knallbunt oder gut getarnt, hochgiftig oder wohlschmeckend, eierlegenkhalt durch Schutzprojekte schwinden viele Frosch- und Salamanderpopulationen – auch hier in Bayern.

Nach einer allgemeinen Einführung zur Biologie und Gefährdung von Amphibien wird Heiko Werning, Mitbegründer des Vereins Frogs&Friends und des Projektes Citizen Conservation berichten und Möglichkeiten für ein Engagement von Schulen darlegen. Anschließend stellt Dr. Michael Germ, Gymnasiallehrer für das Fach Biologie, den Lehrplanbezug zu den behandelten Themen her und macht Vorschläge, wie Amphibien und andere Wirbeltiergruppen im Unterricht unter konzeptueller Perspektive thematisiert werden können.

Im Praxis-Teil der Fortbildung unternehmen wir eine kurze Amphibienexkursion in den botanischen Garten (keine besondere Kleidung erforderlich) und betrachten lebende Amphibien und deren Haltung im Terrarium im BIOTOPIA Lab.

Mehr Details


How can we bring neuroscience and the arts together to help us understand vision, hearing and olfaction? How do different species sense the world? How can we emulate and extend the senses? This seminar, led by Prof Michael John Gorman, founding director of BlOTOPIA, a major new museum for life sciences planned at Schloss Nymphenburg in Munich, and Prof Benedikt Grothe of the Munich Centre for Neuroscience will invite students to work in groups to develop exhibit ideas for BlOTOPIA around the theme of Sense. Internationally eminent guest faculty including Professor Barry Smith, Director of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London, and artist and "smell provocateur" Sissel Tolaas will provide inspiration and guidance for student projects.


This seminar and the projects generated from it will explore the boundaries of art and design, science and audience engagement in order to develop new innovative ideas where these disciplines meet. It is a cross disciplinary seminar designed to stimulate the development of unique, compelling ideas through collaborative student group projects, guided by experts from the fields of science and art.

Student projects will be presented at the end of the seminar and have the potential to be used by BIOTOPIA's content development team in a number of ways, including inspiration for the permanent exhibition, temporary exhibitions or rotating "pocket exhibitions", among many other possibilities. This is a unique opportunity for students to not only hear from renowned scientists and artists working on the Senses, but to translate their own scientific skills and knowledge into a museum exhibit with which a wide range of audience can engage.

  • WHERE: Venice International University San Servolo, Venice
  • WHEN: November 29 – December 1, 2017
  1. Prof. Michael John Gorman, Founding Director of BlOTOPIA - Naturkundemuseum Bayern
  2. Prof. Benedikt Grothe, LMU Neurobiology, Max Plank Institute of Neurobiology
  1. Prof. Dr. Barry C. Smith, Institute of Philosophy at the University of London
  2. Prof. Dr. Mark Hubener, Munich Center for Neuroscience, Max Plank Institute for Neurobiology
  3. Denis Connolly and Anne Cleary, the school of looking
  4. David Rothenberg, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Music, New Jersey Institute of Technology
  5. Sissel Tola as, professional artist and researcher known for her work with smell
  • COORDINATOR: Dr. Samara Rubinstein, Content Curator of BlOTOPIA - Naturkundemuseum Bayern


This seminar is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the following:

  1. LMU Life Sciences in Society and BIOTOPIA – Naturkundemuseum Bayern
  2. LMU Institute of Genetics
  3. Munich University of Applied Sciences


A 3-day seminar bringing together scientists, designers and museum professionals to tackle current issues around sustainable food. Biology students from LMU Institute of Genetics and design students from the Munich University of Applied Sciences work together to develop and prototype micro-exhibits on the topic of sustainable food which will be shared at the end of the seminar as a “meal” and potentially presented by the students at the first BIOTOPIA Festival, “EAT”, May 24-26, 2019.

  • WHERE: LMU Biozentrum and Munich University of Applied Sciences
  • WHEN: January 12 - January 14, 2019
  • STUDENTS: 12 students from LMU Institute of Genetics, 16 students from Munich Univ. of Applied Science
  1. Prof. Ralph Ammer
    Munich Univ. of Applied Science
  2. Prof. Martin Parniske
    LMU Institute of Genetics

  3. Dr. Dagmar Hann
    LMU Institute of Genetics

  4. Prof. Michael John Gorman
    LMU Life Sciences in Society
    BIOTOPIA – Naturkundemuseum Bayern

  5. Dr. Samara Rubinstein
    LMU Life Sciences in Society
    BIOTOPIA – Naturkundemuseum Bayern