Theatrical Technology Assessment: A Role-play Simulation for Bridging the Gap between Technology and Society in Interdisciplinary Engineering Education

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To be able to contribute to societal challenges, engineering students need to learn how to interact with societal stakeholders and incorporate their viewpoints in technology development. This proves to be difficult, especially when it concerns newly emerging technologies, which are characterized by uncertainty and ambiguity. This paper presents a novel educational method – Theatrical Technology Assessment – which combines insights from Constructive Technology Assessment and improvisational theater in a role-play simulation that enables engineering students to explore the socio-technical dynamics and alternative futures of emerging technologies. This method is tested with bachelor students at the University of Twente.
Students were involved as players of the role-play simulation, but also as co-designers and role-instructors. The pilot study corroborates that a role-play simulation is a powerful means for students to learn about the complexity of societal interactions around emerging technologies. They learn about differences in stakeholder perspectives and ways to anticipate or transcend these, and about general patterns in socio-technical dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEngaging, Engineering, Education
Subtitle of host publicationBook of Abstracts, SEFI 48th Annual Conference University of Twente (online), 20-24 September, 2020
EditorsJan van der Veen, Natascha van Hattum-Janssen, Hannu-Matti Järvinen, Tinne de Laet, Ineke ten Dam
Place of PublicationEnschede
PublisherUniversity of Twente
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-87352-020-5
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event48th SEFI Annual Conference on Engineering Education, SEFI 2020 - Online, Enschede, Netherlands
Duration: 20 Sept 202024 Sept 2020
Conference number: 48


Conference48th SEFI Annual Conference on Engineering Education, SEFI 2020
Abbreviated titleSEFI 2020
Internet address


  • Role-play simulation
  • Transdisciplinary engineering education
  • Technology assessment
  • Responsible innovation
  • Emerging technologies

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