BioKompass – Communication and participation for the societal transformation towards bioeconomy

Aerial view of combine harvester. Harvest of rapeseed field. Industrial background on agricultural theme. Biofuel production from above. Agriculture and environment in European Union (©Kletr/Fotolia)

The aim of the project is to support the transformation process towards a bioeconomy – an economy that is sustainable, bio-based and oriented on natural cycles. The focus lies on developing and testing innovative participation and communication formats for pupils, teachers and the wider target groups in the field of museums. ISOE will accompany the testing of formats with an evaluation with the aim to improve their effectiveness. In addition, we will investigate how these new formats could be transferred to other transformation processes.

Research approach

New concepts and formats for communication and participation are being developed for the critical discourse on bioeconomy. The formats will take up alternative ideas for the future of bioeconomy in consideration of the specific needs and requirements of different target groups. These ideas are intended to facilitate an in-depth discussion of future visions simultaneously to taking into account the intended and unintended effects that bioeconomy comprises. In a participatory exhibition area in the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt visitors will be given the opportunity to contribute their own ideas on bioeconomy. Digital media such as an augmented reality app as well as playful and discursive formats will be used. Other formats will include talent schools and seminars for pupils, so-called experience days for teachers, games evenings for interested citizens or a panel discussion with stakeholders that will be conducted by pupils.

The formats to be developed within the joint project will be evaluated by ISOE. Together with the project actors we will on the one hand try to find out if the new formats are showing the expected effects. On the other hand, we will investigate if those formats can be transferred to other transformation processes. For this purpose, process-oriented criteria for the evaluation of participation and communication formats and format-specific survey instruments will be developed. These instruments will be used to gather assessments, experiences and suggestions for improvement from selected participants. In addition, the project and cooperation partners will also be interviewed on their experiences. The surveys thus obtained will be evaluated in project-internal reflection workshops. Necessary adjustments should ideally be made during the course of the project and incorporated into the recommendations on transferability.


With the topic of bioeconomy, Bio-Kompass takes up the question of how we want to live in future. In view of the consequences of climate change and the supply of a growing world population with raw materials that are increasingly becoming scarcer, the question of how to deal with natural resources has again to be asked with a certain amount of urgency. Bioeconomy is based on the idea of using these resources more efficiently and making greater use of biological processes in production. Plastics and other petroleum-based materials could be replaced, and biofuels should become marketable. However, the topic of bioeconomy is controversially discussed both socially and scientifically, and various conflicts are emerging, such as the use of land for biomass-based raw materials and food security. Additionally, prevailing production and consumption patterns are queried if the current conflicting goals are to be mitigated by efficiency, sufficiency and degrowth strategies. Furthermore, the chances and risks of biotechnological processes are hardly predictable for laypersons because of their complexity and also because of the rapid development that is taking place. The current challenges generate high pressure to act towards a more sustainable mode of economy. At the same time, new approaches to solve the problems that we are facing must take far-reaching and long-term consequences into account. In this situation, the BioKompass project aims to create opportunities for societal discourses by offering places where young people and adults can broaden their competence for critical reflection and opinion-forming.

Project partners

  • Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V., with its institutes FhG-ISI Karlsruhe, FhG-IGD Darmstadt and FhG-ICT Pfinztal
  • Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN), Frankfurt am Main


The project “BagW Participation: BioKompass – Communication and Participation for the Societal Transformation to Bioeconomy” is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the framework concept “Bioeconomy as a Social Change”.


Hoefling, Christina/Eva Rossmanith/Lena Theiler/Simone Kimpeler (2023): How do we want to live? Collaborative curation of a special exhibition on sustainable futures at the Senckenberg Natural History Museum Frankfurt. In: Wood, Elizabeth (Hg.): A New Role for Museum Educators. Purpose, Approach, and Mindset. Abingdon, New York: Routledge, 210-220

Fuchs, Leon/Christina Höfling/Lena Theiler (2022): ESD in the Museum: The Project BioKompass. A Practical View from the Senckenberg Natural History Museum Frankfurt. Transdisciplinary Impulses towards Socio-Ecological Transformation. Engaged Reflections - Reflected Engagements. Opladen/Berlin/Toronto: Verlag Barbara Budrich, 139-156

Höfling, Christina/Bärbel Hüsing/Simone Kimpeler/Alexandra Lux/Martina Parrisius/Ute Pohsner/Eva Roßmanith/Elna Schirrmeister/Lena Theiler/Ariane Voglhuber-Slavinsky (2021): Diskurse über Transformation anregen - die Nutzung von Zukunftsszenarien für partizipative Dialogformate in Museen und Schulen am Beispiel Bioökonomie. In: BioKompass (Hg.): Frankfurt/Karlsruhe

Lux, Alexandra/Lena Theiler (2021): Prozessbegleitende Evaluation von Kommunikations- und Partizipationsformaten im Themenfeld Bioökonomie. Evaluationskonzept BioKompass. ISOE-Materialien Soziale Ökologie, 66. Frankfurt am Main: ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung


2017/10 – 2020/12