Sustainicum Collection

Consus The aim of the project is to establish a regional science-society network for sustainability innovations in Albania and Kosovo in order to strengthen the connection and collaboration of institutions in the field of higher education, research and practice.

Resource facts

  • More than 10 students
  • Up to 3 lecture units
  • Internet connection necessary
  • English, German

Resource Description

Additional attachments

Fishbowl-Discussion(Resource ID: 10)

Democratic decision making can be simulated in a fishbowl discussion. Since the majority of the participants will observe the process, they can analyse it. A fishbowl discussion can help to introduce a controversial topic (globalisation, nature vs. nurture).

At the beginning, the group will be divided into two subgroups whereby four to five students will sit in a small circle in the middle. This circle will be surrounded by the rest of the group who will observe them from the outer circle. One can imagine a fishbowl with observers. The observers (up to 20 students) will analyse the discussion process but are not allowed to speak unless they occupy the “hot seat” which is in the middle.

Didactical description of the method

  1. Setting up the stakeholder groups:
    Students will be grouped according to their beliefs towards a controversial topic. By means of example they could be lined up depending if they are „for“, „neutral” or “against” globalisation. The facilitator will make sure that the groups are of a similar size.

  2. Preparation:
    Students get sufficient time to prepare their arguments in the previously assigned stakeholder groups. At the end of this discussion process, each group will vote for a representative who will enter the inner circle.

  3. Discussion:
    The inner circle (debaters) will then discuss the problem / controversial topic, whereby persons from the outer circle (observers) are not allowed to interfere. If they desperately want to say something, they can occupy the hot seat which is a seat left empty in the inner circle. Alter having given the input, this person has to leave the seat again and re-joins the observer group.

  4. Interpretation:
    After the discussions, the group gathers in a plenary session, where impressions can be shared and feedback can be given. Participants should also say if their view on the topic has been changed by this process.

Necessary Documents/Materials

The facilitator has to make sure that there are enough chairs for everyone, which will be arranged in two concentric circles. In the file attached you will find an image of the two concentric circles.

Type of teaching method
  • Competition
  • Discussion / debate
Related Teaching Resources
No specific previous knowledge / related resources required
Topics of sustainability
Controversial issues which will evoke very conflictive reactions in stakeholder groups.
Possible discussion topics: Globalisation as an opportunity for developing countries? Nature vs. nurture, construction of a concert hall on a green area, introduction of the one-child-policy to regulate population growth.
Strengths of the method
This method will help students to be active citizens and initiate democratic decisions by working with the relevant stakeholder groups.
On the one hand, they will be representing their stakeholder group and on the other hand they will also see how it feels to be represented by somebody in a meeting and not be able to interfere. They might draw the conclusion that it is better to stand up for your own interests.
Sources and Links

Senge, Peter (1990): The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization.

Funded by
Funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research within the framework of the call "Projekt MINT-Massenf├Ącher" (2011/12)

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MMag. Nadine Shovakar


Shovakar Nadine
This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
KFUG - Karl-Franzens-University Graz


Creative Commons

Type of teaching method

  • Competition
  • Discussion / debate