This article describes a university-sponsored experiential-based simulation, the NANO SCENARIO, to increase the public's awareness and affect attitudes on the societal implications of nanoscience and nanotechnology by bringing together diverse stakeholders' perspectives in a participatory learning environment. Nanotechnology has the potential for massive societal effects across all sectors, globally. Thus, new forms of education are needed to prepare members of society for making complex decisions about policy, governance, and values. Here, the authors examine the theoretical and conceptual framework of the simulation, which uses improvised role-play and perspective-taking to engage the public in a transformative learning experience. As part of this examination, they describe the uses and constraints of simulations with open-ended goals and without competition and prescribed rules. They believe educational role-play scenarios with active participation of the public can serve as a dynamic method for civic engagement across a range of complex, interdisciplinary topics and new technological dilemmas.
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