Science meets Comic
Science meets Comic
Event (abgeschlossen)
Zentraler Laborraum des Interdisziplinären Labors
Sophienstr. 22a, 10178 Berlin-Mitte, 2.HH. 2.Etage

Was kann eine bild-textliche Auseinandersetzung zu aktuell brisanten Fragen für die Wissenschaftskommunikation bedeuten? Fachleute aus der Comictheorie und -praxis, der Wissenschaftskommunikation und den Ernährungswissenschaften kommen an zwei Tagen in Berlin zusammen, um diese Frage anlässlich eines im Projekt des Interdisziplinären Labors entstehenden Sachcomics zur Ernährung der Welt mit dem Publikum zu diskutieren. Die daraus gewonnenen Erkenntnisse sollen in den darauffolgenden drei Tagen aufgegriffen und in das letzte Kapitel des wissenschaftlichen Sachcomics mit dem Arbeitstitel »Die Anthropozän-Küche« einfließen. Ausgehend von einer visualisierten interkulturellen Reise durch unsere heutige globale Ernährungssituation möchte das Buch Impulse für eine nachhaltige Ernährung der Weltbevölkerung im Jahr 2050 geben.  

Die Autor_innen arbeiten hierzu eng mit Zeichner_innen und »expert citizens« aus aller Welt zusammen. So wird eine neue Form der Wissensgenerierung erprobt und Forschungsergebnisse, eingebettet in Narrative, direkt in Wort-Bild-Geschichten transformiert.

Die sich dabei herauskristallisierenden vielschichtigen Fragestellungen möchten wir zusammen mit den Spezialist_innen aus den verschiedenen Themenbereichen und dem Publikum auf dem Symposium ausgiebig diskutieren: Welche Vorteile hat eine bildliche Erzählweise in der Wissenskommunikation? Wie weit darf sich der Comic von der Realität entfernen - darf er es überhaupt? Was ist wichtiger, die Information oder das Narrativ? Welche Ansätze gibt es in anderen Regionen der Welt? Gibt es Themen, die sich für bildliche Erzählformate besonders eignen?

Die Ansprüche an Authentizität und Dokumentation müssen für wissenschaftliche Sachcomics ähnlich hoch wie für wissenschaftliche Veröffentlichungen sein. Unter dieser Prämisse könnten Sachcomics ein enorm breites Potential für kreativen Wissenstransfer sowie für Gestaltungs- bzw. Handlungsmotivation haben, insbesondere wenn komplexe und vielschichtige Themen zu behandeln sind.

Der erste Tag des Symposiums widmet sich Comics hinsichtlich ihrer theoretischen und praktischen Bedeutung für die Wissenschaftskommunikation und interkulturelle Bildung. Am zweiten Tag stehen mögliche inhaltliche Ausblicke unserer zukünftigen Ernährung im Blickpunkt. In den anschließenden drei Tagen greift die Arbeitsgruppe des Anthropozän-Küchencomics die Ergebnisse und Anregungen aus dem Symposium direkt auf und konzipiert graphische Visionen zur Ernährung der Zukunft, die dann direkt von den Künstler_innen umgesetzt werden sollen.

5. Oktober 2015 9.15 –17 Uhr
6. Oktober 2015 9.45 –14 Uhr           

9. Oktober 2015, 19 Uhr: Closing presentation & get-together

Öffentliche Veranstaltung mit Anmeldung
Anmeldung bitte bis 25.09. 2015  an

Die Vorträge werden auf Englisch gehalten


Symposium »Science meets Comics. The Anthropocene Kitchen: designing the future of food«

Monday, October 5th

9:15 – 9:30 Welcome and introduction by Reinhold Leinfelder (head of the group »The Anthropocene Kitchen«)

9:30 – 10:15 Jaqueline Berndt - How to engage which readership? - Mangaesque communication of food-related knowledge after 3.11

10:15 – 10:30 Coffee Break

10:30 – 11:15 Nick Sousanis - Comics and education, a tool for thinking and representing thoughts

11:15 – 12:00 Lukas Plank - Comics and truth – why scientific comics need rules

12:00 – 14:00 Lunch break

14:00 – 14:45 Stephan Packard - How factual are factual comics? - Parasitic imaginations in referential cartoons

14:45 – 15:30 Veronika Mischitz/Henning Krause – Science communication through comics: introducing the scientific comic »Klar soweit!« of the Helmholtz Gemeinschaft

15:30 – 16:15 Reinhold Leinfelder - Introducing the interdisciplinary comic project »The Anthropocene Kitchen«

16:15 – 17:00 Round-up of the day - panel discussion


Tuesday, October 6th

9:45 – 10:30 Arnold van Huis - Potential of insects as food and feed in assuring food security

10:30 – 11:15 Katerina Teaiwa - The rock of banaba as visual remix

11:15 - 12:00 Anne-Kathrin Kuhlemann/Topfarmers - Food production in the anthropocene - The role of urban spaces

12:30 – 13: 30 Lunch Talk – Toni Meier - How to feed the world in the Anthropocene (Lecture and Discussion)

From 14:00 Closed workshop for the artist of the comic book »The Anthropocene Kitchen«

Friday, October 9th

19.00 Closing presentation



Jacqueline Berndt

How to engage which readership? - Mangaesque communication of food-related knowledge after 3.11

Japan has had a particular food-safety issue since the 2011 nuclear disaster. Many consumers - manga artists included - have turned to science for guidance, only to realize that the scientific community itself is split, in accordance with political and economic interests. “Truth,” as manifesting itself in data published by the administration via traditional mass media, does not necessarily meet with “trust” anymore. This affects the discussion of manga fundamentally, in regard to, first, the very kind of knowledge at stake, second, the targeted readership, and third, the expectations of this readership towards the manga medium. Informed by Japanese-language manga discourse and understanding the “mangaesque” as something exceeding Japan, this paper addresses the second and third issues, while considering the variety of forms in which food-related knowledge circulates: educational (gakushū) comics, reportage (rupo) and essay manga, cooking (ryōri) and gourmet manga. In contradistinction to Alternative Comics as tendentially characterized by auteurisme and universal aspirations, manga’s power to communicate leans eminently on sharing generic conventions. But attempts at employing these conventions for knowledge transfer do not necessarily go down well with regular manga readers, not only outside of Japan. Considerations of readership and literacy prove vital in this regard.


Nick Sousanis

Comics as a tool for thinking and representing scholarly inquiry

Comics have stormed the gates and taken up residence within the academy. What began with increasing acceptance for their literacy and literary merits has now spread to the establishment of comics as a legitimate form of academic inquiry. This includes the presenter’s own doctoral thesis, which he wrote and drew entirely in comics – its form posing a direct challenge to the long-standing bias for textual discourse. For his presentation, Sousanis will share extensive visuals from his dissertation, now book Unflattening, to illuminate the potential for comics to serve as a powerful thought-space in which to conduct research investigations. Comics’ dual capacity for text-like sequential reading and image-like simultaneous viewing makes them an ideal platform to expand the dimensionality of discourse beyond what text can offer alone, while allowing for the clear and accessible presentation of complex information without having to simplify or sacrifice content. Far more than simply a convenient means to illustrate ideas, comics are a way to richly embody thinking itself and open new horizons for discovery in the process. Lukas Plank Comics and truth – Do scientific comics need rules? Comics are a great medium to show how things work. They make it possible to move in time and space, almost without any boundaries. The past, the future, a single atom, a universe, thoughts and dreams… – almost anything can be drawn. But how much creative leeway should a comic artist have? How can we decide where to draw the line between factual representation and artistic interpretation? And who should draw that line? It seems wrong to present a list with cast-iron rules for how a comic has to be made in order to be called “scientific”. The answers to the questions stated above might be different depending on the topic of the comic, the target audience, the source material, the overall style of the comic etc. However, this does not mean the questions can be left unanswered. This presentation gives an overview of the common challenges and problems that can come up when creating a “truthful” scientific comic and shows tools and strategies on how to deal with them.


Stephan Packard

How Factual are Factual Comics? 

Parasitic Imaginations in Referential Cartoons There is no doubt that factual genres exist in comics: McCloud's »Understanding Comics« talks about comics factually, just as Sacco's comics journalism and Spiegelman's comic biography are bound by some claim to trustworthiness in the relations they build to reality. Didactic treatments of science and history are likewise numerous in comics. They are not, however, common. While the formal structure of comics clearly allows for factuality, the historical specificity of its aesthetics seems to introduce a non-binding but plausible drift of the art form from presentation to the dramatic, from representation to the narrative, and from depiction to the imaginary; ultimately supporting a tendency that moves from reality to fiction. In this talk, I will discuss some of the aesthetic traces of these historical drifts, which may be collected under a partially Serrean concept of a parasitic interjection of imagination into factual reference.


Henning Krause & Veronika Mischitz 

»Klar Soweit?« A science communication comic by Helmholtz Association

Being Germany's largest research organization, the Helmholtz Association puts great effort in public relations. The web comic »Klar Soweit?« (»Savvy?«) is one of our innovative science communication projects. We established it in order to get into a dialogue with the general public about science. The comic is currently published in German. It is free of charge and licensed under Creative Commons. New installments appear on a monthly base. »Klar Soweit?« is a collection of fictional short comics, which connect visual storytelling with science education. For this purpose, we created a flexible setting and cast of characters, enabling us to cover any subject of interest - from the tiniest molecular interaction to global or even universal issues. The comics range from basic explanatory to science related meta-topics such as surveillance, serendipity, peer reviews and the history of science.


Reinhold Leinfelder

The Anthropocene Kitchen – An intercultural participative comic project on the presence and future of food

Compex societal issues, such as global nutrition, should be addressed from various levels, including scientific, cultural, societal, individual and psychological points of view. Movies, books, articles or lectures are often too linear to provide good access to such multidimensional topics. Slow media, including exhibitions and comics, are hoped to more adequately combine multidimensional information in multi-level narratives, enable readers to digest these at their own pace and, especially by virtue of their imagery, provide motivating, visualizing, permanent, and participative aspects at the same time. In the comic project the Anthropocene Kitchen of the Cluster of Excellence Image-Knowledge-Gestaltung we want to even add two additional levels: interculturality and participation. Key structural elements of the concept are therefore:

1) scripting a storyboard, developed out of the dialogue on eating traditions, habits, knowledge and work-life-embedding with our protagonists from 10 different countries across the globe,

2) scientific and cultural research based on this dialogue,

3) final development of the storyboards in direct cooperation with the protagonists and artists from the same countries/regions. These steps are framed in an open pre-storyboard setting, in order to cover all essential topics (e.g. prosumption, fertilizer production, fisheries, traditional and high-tech agriculture, biotech, urban farming initiatives, addictive foods, etc) and to avoid doubling of aspects. The final chapter on assessing the viability and scalability of existing patterns for designing the future of food will be conceptualized on occasion and as an integral activity of the current workshop “Science meets Comics”.


Arnold van Huis

Potential of Insects as Food and Feed in Assuring Food Security

Up to 2050 meat demand will grow by about 70%, but because 80 percent of total land area is already being used for livestock, we need alternative protein sources. About 2,000 insect species are eaten worldwide. Their protein content is similar to conventional meat, but they contain more poly-unsaturated fatty acids, iron and zinc. Environmental benefits of insects compared to conventional livestock are: low emission of greenhouse gases, small land area needed, efficient feed conversion and being able to convert organic by-products into high value protein products. Promising insect species as feed for livestock are the Black Soldier Fly and the House Fly. Food safety can be assured by rearing them under hygienic conditions. For people allergic to seafood proper labelling of the insect product is required. Consumer acceptance increases by providing information and giving people a taste experience. Insects as food and feed have a high potential of becoming a new sector in agriculture and the food and feed industry.


Katerina Teaiwa

The Rock of Banaba as Visual Remix
The British imperial mining of 22 million tons of rock from a six-square kilometer Pacific Island in what is now Kiribati, resulted in the transfer and transformation of Banaban land into superphosphate fertiliser fuelling Australian and New Zealand agriculture for most of the 20th century. This presentation is a visual "remix" of Banaban histories and Banaban lands and a multi-scalar reflection on how phosphate mining and the chemical transformation of land complicates and extends Banaban indigeneity. I also discuss the island's significance in the context of Kiribati, described in the popular media, and often in the policy realm, as a poster child for climate change.



Food production in the anthropocene - The role of urban spaces

Today's agriculture is heavily criticized: heavy reliance on fertilizers and pesticides, genetical manipulation and patenting of organisms, destruction of rainforests, depletion of water reservoirs... Considering that we need to be feeding more people, not less, and that arable land is dwindling, innovations are urgently needed. 
Urban spaces offer the potential to compensate some of the land-loss and increasing demand using new and innovative approaches. The examples range from mushrooms grown in cellars to salad production in fully climatised warehouses, miniature production in private kitchens and urban farms on city rooftops. Start-ups in Japan, Marocco, North America or Europe are testing the markets of tomorrow's booming middle classes, in search of solutions to sustainably feed 10 billion humans. But meaning well does not always mean "well done" - integrating food production while avoiding competition to much needed spaces for housing and recreation remains a creative challenge.


Toni Meier

How to feed the world in the Anthropocene

Food is a private matter. But not entirely; nutrition is also characterised by a substantial common welfare component. This is due to how deeply it is embedded in ecological cycles as well as due to prevailing diet-related disease burdens and corresponding healthcare costs. Nutrition is therefore a key issue of sustainable development and a key issue in anthropocene research. My lecture provides a synopsis of current findings and challenges of global ecology change, dealing with the question of how to feed the world in the year 2050 sustainably. I will further present different methodological approaches - focusing on the own elaborated analysis method susDISH. With susDISH complex catering and kitchen settings could be taken into account, addressing consistently environmental, nutritional and economic impacts.



Jaqueline Berndt - Dr Jaqueline Berndt is professor in comics studies at the Graduate School of Manga, Kyoto Seika University and deputy director of the International Manga Research Center at the Kyoto International Manga Museum, Japan. Holding a first degree in Japanese Studies and a PhD in Aesthetics/Art Theory from Humboldt University Berlin, she has worked at Japanese universities since 1991, teaching and researching on graphic narratives, modern Japanese art, and anime mainly from the perspective of media studies. Her publications include the co-edited Manga’s Cultural Crossroads (2013) and the monograph Manga: Medium, Art and Material (2015).

Arnold van Huis - Prof. Dr. Ir. Arnold van Huis worked from 1974 to 1979 in Nicaragua for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on integrated pest management (IPM) in foodgrains. From 1982 to 1985 he coordinated a regional crop protection training project for eight Sahelian countries. From 1985 onwards he works as tropical entomologist at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and has been responsible for a number of IPM and biological control projects in the tropics. He is a world leading expert on insects as food and feed. In 2013 he published with FAO a book “Edible insects: future prospects for food and feed security” which has been downloaded six million times. He is also the first author of the “The Insect Cookbook” published in 2014 by Columbia University Press. In 2014 he organized with FAO a conference “Insects to feed the world” attended by 450 participants from 45 countries.

Henning Krause is social media manager of the Helmholtz Association’s Head Office in Berlin. He is in charge of the social media communication of Germany’s largest research organization, including blogs, podcasts and a web comic. Henning Krause studied physics in Göttingen and history of science in Hamburg. From 2006 to 2012 he worked as web portal manager and online editor at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne.

Reinhold Leinfelder - Prof. Dr. Reinhold Leinfelder is geologist, palaeontologist and science communicator, with focus on coral reefs, the anthropocene and new methods of science communications. Besides chairs at the Universities of Stuttgart, Munich and the Humboldt Unversity Berlin he was General Director of the Bavarian Natural History Collections (2003-2005) and the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (2006-2010). Additional past affiliations include board memberships for the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU, 2008-2013), the Anthropocene Project at the Haus der Kulturen in Berlin (20012-2014) and the currently open „Welcome to the Anthropocene- The Earth in Our Hands“ exhibition at the Deutsche Museum in Munich, Presently he is principal investigator of the „Anthropocene-Kitchen-Project“ at the Cluster of Excellence Image-Knowledge-Gestalt in Berlin, full professor of Geobiology at the Freie Universität Berlin and. since Sept. 2014 Founding Director of the Haus der Zukunft gGmbH (House of the Future) in Berlin.

Toni Meier has a PhD in Agricultural and Nutritional Science. He works at the Institute for Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences at Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg. In addition to developing new methodological approaches in the field of nutrition/the environment/health, his work explores what a sustainable food supply means in practical terms for community catering and gastronomy. His book, »Umweltschutz mit Messer und Gabel - Der ökologische Rucksack der Ernährung in Deutschland« (Protecting the environment with a knife and fork – The ecological rucksack for food supply in Germany), appeared in 2014. Toni Meier operates the internet portal

Veronika Mischitz is a freelance illustrator and comic strip artist. Her background in the natural sciences enabled her to specialise in science and knowledge communication. Her fields of work are visual development, communication, comics and illustration. She designs non-fiction books, children’s books and picture books. She also offers drawing courses and draws live at events, readings and concerts.

Stephan Packard - Stephan Packard is a media culture theorist, works as a Junior-Professor at the University of Freiburg and is Visiting Professor of Popular Cultural Theory at the University of Cologne. His research interests are semiotic, psychoanalytic and discourse analytic examination of new and traditional media; censorship and other forms of media control; and the cultural construction of virtuality. In 2004 he was awarded his doctorate in General and Comparative Literary Studies with summa cum laude from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich with his thesis on »Cartoon, Hybrid, Anatomy. A Psychosemiotic Analysis of Comics«. was awarded the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in 2015.

Lukas Plank is a journalist who works in different media in Vienna. His interests are science, technology and (new) media. For his final dissertation for his Master of Arts in Journalism & New Media at the University of Applied Sciences for Management & Communication in Vienna, he conducted an in-depth examination of comic journalism. He focused primarily on the extent to which comics can meet the classic quality criteria for journalism.

Nick Sousanis received his doctorate at Columbia University in New York City, where he wrote and drew his dissertation entirely in comics form. Titled Unflattening, it is now a book from Harvard University Press. He’s presented on his work and the importance of visual thinking in education at such institutions as Stanford, Princeton, UCLA, and Microsoft Research, along with keynote addresses for the Visitors Studies Association’s and the International Visual Literacy Association. He has taught courses on comics as powerful communication tools at Columbia, Parsons, and now at the University of Calgary, where he is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Comics Studies. Sousanis has a widely interdisciplinary background – he studied mathematics as an undergraduate and later did a combined degree in mathematics and art. Before coming to New York City, he was immersed in Detroit’s thriving arts community, where he co-founded the former arts and culture site and became the biographer of legendary Detroit artist Charles McGee. For excerpts of his comics and more

Katerina Teaiwa Dr. Katerina Teaiwa was born and raised in Fiji and is of Banaban, I-Kiribati and African American descent. She is now Head of the Dept. of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific (CAP) at the Australian National University in Canberra. She is also the Pacific Studies Convener in CAP and the President of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies. From 2011 Katerina has also been a Research Fellow in the Framing the Global research and publication project at the Center for the Study of Global Change at Indiana University. She is author of Consuming Ocean Island: stories of people and phosphate from Banaba (Indiana University Press 2015).

Anne-Kathrin Kuhlemann Anne-Kathrin Kuhlemann (1979) is Managing Partner of Blue Economy Solutions, supporting clients in developing business models for their sustainability innovations – and advising municipalities and regions in utilizing their waste streams as resources for business impetus. She (co-)founded several companies which implement systemic resource efficiency in creative business models, e.g. Chido's mushrooms, which cultivates gourmet mushrooms on used coffee grounds.
Having gained a double degree in European Business Studies, she acts as visiting lecturer at the university of applied sciences Münster and is a member of the Economic Policy Council of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce. Her background spans several years of consulting with Bain & Company as well as experience with World Bank and the German Embassy in Brazil. She then went on to spend several years in the social finance sector, working among others with Nobel peace laureates Muhammad Yunus and Elie Wiesel. In 2010, magazine Capital named her one of the “Top 40 under 40” of German society.