Citizen Science & Post-Normal Science zones

The Post-Normal Science 5 symposium moved, like many other scientific meetings this year, to an online meeting. If you haven’t come across the term, it is worth looking into – post-normal science (PNS) is, for me, one of the foundations for how citizen science can be integrated into policy processes. PNS is a conceptual framework to consider how science can work when addressing societal problems where the decision stakes are high, the facts are uncertain, decisions are urgent, and values are dispute. It is easy to provide examples for these conditions on almost a daily basis in this year, as we all face the impacts of Covid-19 and see the limitations of science and knowledge. One of the suggestions of PNS is that in order to address such situations, we should engage with “extended peer communities” – and citizen science is seen as an example for such extended peer communities.

However, to what degree is this true, and what are limitations? In the talk that I gave in the symposium, as part of a session that was organised by the Cities-Health project, I looked at four typologies of citizen science and mapped them to PNS zones – areas of different decision making regimes that are impacted by the levels of uncertainties and the decision stakes. The mapping provides a way to consider the issues that PNS scholarship has discussed extensively – from the concept of quality, to the role of extended peer communities, to notions of discussing uncertainty, and the use of statistical information in the process of defining facts and truths.

Chat with three arcs that enclose three areas - applied science, professional consultancy, post-normal science. In the areas that are rectangular dots that are located in different places and are marked with text to describe what they represent
Citizen Science and Post-Normal Science: mapping four typologies

The talk was recorded, and you can find it here

You can also find the rest of the session on YouTube.


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