Center for Community & Citizen Science Blog
We are pleased to be hosting Gwen Ottinger at the School of Education on April 3rd & 4th. Ottinger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Drexel University, where she directs the Fair Tech Collective, a research group dedicated to using social science theory and methods to inform the development of technology that fosters environmental justice.
This blog post, authored by Ryan Meyer, Heidi Ballard, and Lila Higgins, originally appeared on the Blue Sky Funders Forum blog.
When do experiences with science lead young people to create change in their lives, landscapes, and communities? Consider this reflection from Rachel Anne Arias, a 12-year-old living in La Crescenta in Southern California:
We asked our partners – expert researchers and practitioners — what it looks like when youth participate in community and citizen science. The resulting video speaks to the tremendous potential of youth-focused community and citizen science (YCCS) in the classroom, in the field, in a science museum, or anywhere in between.
Co-edited by Dr. John Cigliano and our Faculty Director, Heidi Ballard, this new volume provides a broad range of case studies exploring the utility and feasibility, as well as limitations, of using marine and coastal citizen science for conservation to leverage these resources and address these tensions.
Center researchers collaborated with colleagues on a new paper that points to the importance of engaging directly with existing knowledge when attempting to bring new knowledge and practices into farming communities. Working in Uganda, the researchers examined similarities and differences between smallholder farmers’ knowledge about soil health and scientific concepts. In cases of dissimilarity, they find that new concepts are unlikely to be assimilated without concerted effort and they recommend hands-on experimentation with novel practices as a means of building confidence with improved soil management practices. Our Faculty Director, Heidi Ballard, and former student researcher, Emily Harris, collaborated with UC Davis colleagues Lauren Pincus (Plant Sciences), and Kate Scow (Land, Air and Water Resources) on this research.
What can universities bring to citizen and community science? What can citizen and community science bring to universities?
We have been talking to colleagues all over the world about this double-sided question. As the field of citizen and community science continues its astounding growth, we believe there will be a continual need for reflection, research-based insights, and a space to nurture exciting new ideas about how individuals and communities can make participation in science a part of their lives. And how we can make interaction with diverse publics a regular practice of science.
Universities at their best are engines of creativity and discovery, pushing the limits of our understanding and capability. Citizen science and community science are providing exciting new tools and approaches in that vein. Low-tech or high-tech, global or local, we are seeing new ways to advance knowledge and address environmental problems through science that welcomes many forms of participation. From that perspective, it is easy to see how universities can contribute to, and benefit from, this field. We aim to play a role in both its intellectual and practical development, based on a foundation of useful research and innovative collaboration.
We have just put together the first issue of “Gatherings,” the occasional newsletter of the Center for Community and Citizen Science. Have a look here, and then subscribe!
As someone who’s always maintained a fondness for campy antics, not to mention built a strong personal identity as an environmental educator, two of my favorite tag lines are, ‘The more you look, the more you see!’ and ‘Change is the only constant!’ I’ve used these phrases way too many times with students and throughout my life in general; yet here I am, revisiting their meanings once again. These simple themes help formulate my thinking about the ethos of citizen science.
At the Citizen Science Association Conference in St. Paul, MN, we used the poster session as an opportunity to discuss the role of universities in this rapidly developing field. You can check out our poster, which outlines some of our ideas, and then have a look at #citisciuniversities, to see some of what we heard.
This week, the Citizen Science Association (CSA) convenes in St. Paul, Minnesota for its biennial conference, bringing together diverse and interdisciplinary groups of researchers, practitioners, community organizations, and participants from across the field. The Center for Community & Citizen Science (CCS) will be showcasing work from a number of our recent and ongoing projects. If you are attending the conference, we encourage you to check out what we’re sharing!
In February, we teamed up with Pepperwood Preserve and Sonoma County K-5th grade educators to run a workshop on how to facilitate community and citizen science in the classroom. Activities included observational sketching, a mini bioblitz, and sharing the YCCS Environmental Science Agency framework. Educators left eager and equip to try out new projects in creative ways with their students.
Here at UC Davis, explorations in community and citizen science are taking place among several groups on campus. Most recently, the Department of Science & Technology Studies hosted Professor Shun-Ling Chen from Academia Sinica in Taiwan, who gave a lecture on her work investigating questions of ethics and fairness for those who participate in crowdsourced citizen science projects.
We are grateful to the many collaborators from across UC Davis and beyond, who attended, provided support, and contributed feedback and general smartness in the lead-up to the Big Ideas Symposium, which took place on October 31st. We certainly felt the community-driven nature of this effort last Monday, as Heidi presented ideas about the Center alongside many other inspiring faculty who helped make the event a success.
Stay tuned for more information about the Big Ideas process in the coming months.
This post, written by Molly Michelson, originally appeared on the website of the California Academy of Science.
We’re going to need a lot of people to save planet Earth—scientists, for example! Their research can help policy-makers and governmental agencies make conservation decisions about the regions, animals, and plants to save. But there simply aren’t enough of these academics to go around.