European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) 2018 conference – day 1: keynotes, education, and national & international programmes


Notes from the European Citizen Science Association Conference in Geneva, 4-5 June. Welcome to the conference! Katrin Vohland, ECSA Vice Chair, (DE) – conferences started from volunteering by Science et Cité two years ago. ECSA has been growing through participation in projects, and this allows ECSA to do things such as the conference and other networking activities – including Doing It Together Science, LandSense, and D-Noses, as well as the COST Action. The first H2020 application that was coordinated by ECSA is out and waiting for a decision. We can project different aspects to citizen science – see it between healing promise and ignorance – policymakers are paying attention it, and some are hoping that it will help in linking science and society. But participation information shows that we have involvement of the educated elite and this requires attention to inclusiveness. There is also the Neoliberal trap – competition and monetisation are appearing in academia, in concepts of nature, and citizen science is somewhere in between – participants carry out their work for free but it is also providing space for doing science that is not linked to financial constraints which can be seen as accepting such condition. However,  how citizen science can provide new routes for science? ECSA is one expression of the concept of Europe – cross-national system, and it is a way of strengthening European networks. There are now increasing the range of network, such as the global citizen science partnership.

Thomas Zeltner, President of the Foundation Science et Cité,
ECSA2018 Team, (CH) – on behalf of the local organisation: welcoming participants. The conference is a public and private partnership which we can see in the sponsorship. Science et Cité celebrate 20 years – communicating and dialoguing the part of science, art, society linkage in Switzerland. It is the importance of having a dialogue between science and society. Authoritarian regimes don’t need science – they do what they want, whereas, in a democracy, we need dialogue between public and science and providing evidence to help progressing issues. Switzerland direct democracy put in questions such as prescribing heroin to drug addicts which are complex issue – and with appropriate communication, there was a vote for it, and then issues about deciding how that happens, and this involved the local public of the centres reporting about their experience. A lot of issues are about this science/society dialogue – science finds new answers for the future, and bring them to the political debate. The organisation is now working in three domains: face to face interactions – scientists need to expose themselves to the public, and learn about the public, while the public understands the person behind the science. Second, using social networks technologies to create a dialogue between science and the public. Finally, learning networks – need for universities and research to learn how to communicate with the public.

Keynote: Citizen Science? Rethinking Science and Public Participation
Bruno J. Strasser (CH) 


Let’s Mainstream Citizen Science! Steffen Fritz DE
Promoting Awareness, Acceptability and Sustainability through WeObserv

Keynote: Shannon Dosemagen – Citizen Science and grassroots organisation 

An experience of integrating  communities in rural areas that don’t have access to resources. a lot of the work end being analougue to address gaps in technology ability and use – solid plan on how things will continue. The difference between equity and equality you can see different people that are supported in different ways – for example working closely with people that are in disadvantage and not treating them in the same way as everyone else. The engagement of scientists – there are valuable things that can come from the classroom and guidance ahead of time, and helping students to drop layers of expertise and listen and learn. What is the answer about the risk and challenge to professional researchers? the source for the reduction in journalism is not because of citizen journalism and the change in data production by communities is not about challenging journalism but adressing journalism deserts

Speed Talks: Education & Learning I

Julie Sheard DK Get them while they’re young – an effort in Denmark to identify invasive speicies. Experiments in which young people are involved in collecting samples of ants and then send them to the museum for idntification. They’ve done an effort of outreach, with lots of experiments that involve schools – 356 experiments that involved thousands of people. Children can do science and wotking with knowledgable staff incrases participation, it can help working with other organisations.

DSC_0646.JPGLucy Robinson et al. UK Learn CitSci: Exploring youth learning – through participation in CS – presenting as part of a wider partnerships. what and how young people learn in citizen science. The Natural History Museum are good places to link learning to citizen science. Potential to have a wider role in society. The question is about the impact of the learning programme. The current project look at online, direct learning and use observations and learning analytics. For the participation they use the Envrionmental Science Agency – for example, someone joins the project, understand science content and norms, then developing roles and science practice – supporting new participants and finally studying astronomy. Cultural-Historical Activity Theory looks at different aspects of the learning process. They will be use the ability of three museums to design new activities and then see how this will work and the project linking educational research with practitioners who are running citizen science projects.

DSC_0647.JPGTania Jenkins – Evoke project which is a project about scientific literacy: important about dealing with different issues – for most people evolution don’t necessarily make sense. It is a cornerstone of modern biology – “nothing in biology make sense except in the light of evolution” and want to show that evolution is relevant for decisions of food, managing the environment and so on. There different stakeholders – researchers, evolutionary researchers, etc. The eVoKE project brought 90 people from 15 countries and grown to over 250 people in 31 countries and ideas that grow to 7 associated projects – including evolution was reignited.

DSC_0649.JPGSilvia Winter AT CS in the classroom: empowering students – personal experience in Austria in a biodiversity area. Mentioned many challenges in school context – the students are not completely volunteering, logistic limitations, and other challenges. The strengths include the students enjoy observing and exploring nature, especially charismatic species. Typical tasks include different roles of teachers – from identifying the activity to dealing with logistics. An online survey of 581 biology teachers show 51% working on biodiversity projects, and they had to deal with little interest of students, high workload nad other challenges. There was a specific teaching programme in Austria to teach teachers on citizen science. There are different success factors – the commitment of the teachers is crucial, there is a need to identify something that can be observed, that the task is clear. It is possible to offer training courses.


Dialogue Session: National & International Networks

Gisela Wachinger DE How can scientists aid citizens to ensure
their contributions matter in scientific research? examples of projects across the research cycle and understanding the issues of quality control, thinking about the gap between citizens and scientists. Different experiences and issues of belief, interests etc. The job of the scientists should help to make the data better. OPAL as an example of top-down and bottom-up, which happen because of non-traditional funding source. Need to consider in-between people. All scientists are citizens but in science we are nomadic – because of the citizenship that we bring to the table.

Francisco Sanz ES Spanish actions on CS at national level – exploring the national plans and projects, and how it is developing. A national project in Spain to look at issues of communication plan, technical support and learning from other areas projects.

Daniel Dörler et al. AT Österreich forscht: the Austrian CS platform – started with roadkil and as a phD student wanted help in establishing citizen science (florian), there were a lot of project on volunteering in science and contact other related project and used the term to invite other people – from 9 projects in 2015 to 50, now go funding to carry out the work. 30% from humanities and social science – appeared in the conference that they carried out. The conference to exchange experience of project coordinators. The early part was actively searching for project, and now people are joining in and there is a collabortion with the government backed platform for citizen science. The centre of citizen science only publish projects that they are funding (by the government) and the network is doing it for the whole countries. Most people who get in touch with the platform want to get more participants and from the knowledge on how to communicate, how to engage, there are also working groups on quality, but also on other issues. In annual meeting they ask for things and work in a do-ocracy: expecting people to invest. One position and not much funding but a lot of volunteering effort. There is a working group on open data. There is an open access, and

David Ziegler DE Bürger schaffen Wissen – the platform for citizen science in Germany. Information about the project can be found through search engine, sharing newsletters, helping projects through science communication, linking to scientific issues to the scientists who can asnwer. Funded by the ministry of research and education – as projects: 3 years every time. Also working on building a coalition to support the future of citizen science in Germany. One full time communication person, and half time researcher, budget below 200,000 EUR as direct funding, and the growth of the field is creating a challenge. There are more projects that apply to be part of the platform than the ability to absorb them, check them that they are bone fide. 102 projects, and some project finished – 3000 unique visitors a month. 40% of projects don’t have university or resarch organisations that join in. Organise a conference once a year – citizen science forum, 2016 – 180, 2017 – 120, expecting 200 this year, and high turnover in terms of participation in the forum. There is less

Alison Parker et al. US CS at US Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology. An advisory body for the US EPA, ther are barriers of figuring out the resources and the vision to carry out citizen science in the organisation. This is a complex topic to understand in different situation. There are views about putting power to people and giving them the responsibility to deal with their issues. There are different roles of environmental protection agency – for example the UK environment gency have been looked t citizen science and using it for investigation, and the goal is to collect the data to integrate data from citizen sciecne and other bodies. The EA get more information than what they have, especially with their funding. The Scottish EPA has committed to strategically include citizen science, similarly in Finland that moved into the way the organisation work. Citizen science might give you data that you might don’t want – need to be clear about the two way information from the organisation to people. Matching citizen science that reduce regulation costs while providing support to reduce risk


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Professor of GIScience, University College London

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