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

  • Independent of the number of students
  • Up to 3 lecture units
  • Internet connection necessary
  • English

Resource Description

Monologue/Dialogue(Resource ID: 62)

In transdisciplinary settings communication plays a crucial role, but different backgrounds and disciplines of the participants may lead to miscommunication and difficulties in understanding. The game “Monologue/Dialogue” by Linda Booth Sweeney and Dennis Meadows presents an easy method to address and reflect the importance of communication among the participants.

“Monologue/Dialogue” is a game that highlights the importance of communication in a creative way and for instance can be used as an icebreaker in inter- and transdisciplinary groups. Especially in the beginning of science-society collaborations it is crucial to develop a common understanding about the system, the challenges and aims that will be addressed during the common research. But academics from different disciplines, stakeholders from business, services or politics may “speak a different language”. This game draws attention to communication – to both speaking and listening.


  • In advance: prepare a simple abstract illustration (e.g. a loop with an arrow in a box).
  • Provide a brief introduction about the importance of communication in science-society collaborations.
  • Ask the participants for four volunteers, who will form two groups. They will be involved in a drawing exercise, but do not need to have good drawing skills.
  • Each of the two groups will need to identify one “artist” and one “speaker”.
  • Ask one group to leave the room.
  • Ask the remaining group to come to the front. The artist is placed in front of a flipchart, with his/her back to the participants so that the participants can see the flipchart. Position the speaker in a way that he/she cannot see the flipchart and give him/her the illustration. Make sure that the artist cannot see the illustration
  • Tell them the goal of their exercise, which is to produce a drawing that presents a duplicate of the illustration. But there are some rules to follow: 1. The speaker has 3 minutes to describe the illustration (only by using words), but is not allowed to see what the artist is drawing. 2. The artist may not see the illustration and may not ask the speaker any questions.
  • Stop the team after 3 minutes. The speaker can see what the artist has drawn and the artist can see the illustration. You can also show the illustration to the other participants. Artist and speaker can sit down again.
  • Hide the first drawing and ask the second group to enter the room again. They will have the same task, but with different rules: The speaker again has 3 minutes to describe the illustration and the artist is not allowed to see the illustration. But the speaker can see what the artist is drawing and the artist may ask questions.
  • Stop the team after 3 minutes as well. Then show them all three paintings – the original illustration and the both drawings. Discuss the results with the participants.

In most cases the second drawing will much better reflect the original illustration. This group could use a two-way conversation – a dialogue. The speaker has the possibility to see if his/her instructions are useful and can correct the artist; at the same time the artist can ask if he/she is unsure or has not accurately understood the instructions. On the other hand the first group had a one-way conversation – a monologue, where feedback is not possible.

Type of teaching method
  • Game
  • Creative method
Preparation Efforts Description
Lecturers need to prepare an illustration in advance and get familiar with the procedure of the method (see "main description").
Related Teaching Resources
No specific previous knowledge / related resources required
Necessary documents / materials

Two flipcharts, a pen and an illustration.

Integration of stakeholders
Societal stakeholders participate in this game together with the students to commonly reflect their communication culture.
If you think that the stakeholders will not feel comfortable with this game, you can only apply it with the students in order to prepare them for collaborating with stakeholders outside university.
Topics of sustainability
Monologue/Dialogue is a creative method and does not include any thematic content.
Situations appropriate for this method
The method is appropriate in workshops or seminars, where the lecturer wants to highlight the importance of effective communication.
Strengths of the method
- Easy and short game, which draws attention to the importance of an efficient communication culture

This game aims to highlight the importance of a participative, two-way communication and encourages the participants to reflect their culture of communication. The role of both speaking and listening is addressed and how important real “dialogues” are for science-society collaborations.
Weaknesses of the method
Assessment / evaluation
It is not intended to assess the results of this method. But a reflective discussion with all participants is highly recommended.
Sources and Links

Booth Sweeney, L. & Meadows, D. (2010) The Systems Thinking Playbook. Exercised to stretch and build learning and systems thinking capabilities. Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, USA.

Funded by
This teaching resource, realised within the project ConSus, has been funded with the support of the TEMPUS of the European Union. The contents reflect the views of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Comments Write Comment


Marlene Mader
This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
LEUPHANA - University of Lüneburg
Leuphana University of Lüneburg


Creative Commons

Type of teaching method

  • Game