In the context of increasing wicked problems facing society and global planetary health, citizen science and other forms of public participation in scientific research and monitoring, which I term “Community and Citizen Science (CCS)”, have the potential to engage and bring people together in new ways to learn and answer scientific questions that address these problems. In fact, this burgeoning field has advanced beyond the “promise and potential” for CCS as a way to improve scientific literacy and broaden participation in science; there is ample evidence for not only the learning and engagement outcomes of CCS as well as the scientific outcomes of this work. But most importantly, one size does not fit all, and not all projects achieve the same outcomes for all audiences. I will present concrete examples and evidence from my own research and others for the specific approaches to CCS in environmental contexts that achieve particular learning and engagement outcomes, and offer lessons for how best to design and implement CCS projects for particular audiences, whether youth or adults.
Heidi Ballard is interested in environmental education that links communities, science, environmental action and learners of all ages. Particularly she is interested in what and how people learn through public participation in scientific research (PPSR) as a form of informal science education. From citizen science-type projects for conservation to participatory action research for natural resources management and environmental justice, PPSR projects can create unique opportunities for learning by participants and scientists. Understanding the outcomes and processes of these projects can contribute to better practices in environmental and science education, and better conservation and natural resource management.
Why does citizen science engage scientists and citizens? How do we as citizen science practitioners and researchers make sure that citizen science will continue to be engaging - and engaged in the creation of new scientific knowledge, while also addressing issues of public concern?
Science has always involved collective and distributed practices. Since the professionalization of science in the mid-19th century, scientists and science managers, often assisted or encouraged by new technologies, have sought to enroll non-scientists in many different kinds of scientific projects. More recently, this legacy of citizen engagement in science joined forces with new democratic demands for increased public participation in science. Today, citizen science is an umbrella term encompassing scientific ambitions but also ideas about a more inclusive and more socially responsible science as well as forms of citizen activism, resistance, and opposition.
Understanding the diverse engagements of citizen science today means engaging with diverse communities of practice, a diverse range of stakeholders, and diverging objectives. Science policies and scientific institutions require scientists to strive for scientific excellence and meet social responsibilities, whereas neoliberal modes of democratic governance turn citizens and communities into entrepreneurial actors in order to enable citizen-focused policy-making. Engaging citizen science for scientists and citizens remains no easy task.
Informed by current perspectives in science and technology studies (STS), Dick Kasperowski's main interests are in the area of governance of science, scientific citizenship and the management of uncertainty in public scientific controversies. The analytical focus of his research concerns how political and scientific representations are related to each other and how (scientific) citizenship is connected to research policy and scientific practices. More specifically this relates to how rights and obligations toward science and research are attributed and appropriated by different actors when uncertainty is introduced and the different modes of governance this entails.
Dick Kasperowski is leading the Swedish project Arenas for Co-operation through Citizen Science (Arenor för relationsbyggande samverkan genom medborgarforskning, ARCS). The aim of the project is to help Swedish universities to use citizen science in a responsible and sustainable way, i.e. to interact with society. In the course of the proejct, a national web portal for Swedish citizen science – medborgarforskning.se - has been developed. It features tools, guidelines and forums for researchers and other stakeholders who want to get involved in citizen science. There is also an interactive directory of all citizen science projects currently running in Sweden. The portal aims to be the national hub and a resource for everyone interested in citizen science.
Dick Kasperowski has published extensively on citizen science. He was co-editor of the 2019 special issue of Science and Technology Studies on the many modes of citizen science.