The Urban Zoo project focused on the issues of transfer of disease from animals to humans, in particular in the context of Nairobi, Kenya. This is mostly a medical study, but through the involvement of UCL Development Planning Unit (DPU), issues of urban planning and urban studies were integrated.
The new paper “Participatory mapping and food‐centred justice in informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya” is based on the work of Dr Sohel Ahmed in Nairobi, and the use of participatory mapping methods (including balloon mapping) to understand the local context. It is written by an interdisciplinary team – including geography, urban planning, development, and medical research.
“Food vendors are pivotal in the local food system of most low‐income informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya, despite being seen as an obstruction and as agents of disease and filth by city authorities. This paper explores the geography of these foodscapes – defined as public sites of food production and consumption – in selected low‐income settlements in Nairobi, focusing on the interaction of food vendors with their surrounding environment and infrastructure services. The research uses participatory geographic information system tools, including food mapping with mobile apps and high‐resolution community aerial views with balloon mapping, to capture and contextualise local knowledge. The community mappers collected data on 660 vendors from 18 villages in Kibera, Mathare, and Mukuru, and situated them on multi‐layered synoptic geographic overviews for each settlement. The resulting data on hazardous areas in relation to food spaces and infrastructure provision allowed local communities to prioritise areas for regular clean‐up activities and assisted advocacy to improve these places in cooperation with local authorities. These multiple visual representations of foodscapes make local food vendors, and the risks they face, visible for the first time. Reframing their “right to safe food and environment” from a social and environmental justice perspective allows local communities to put their experiences, knowledge, and challenges faced at the forefront of urban development planning, policy, and practice.”
These are the notes from an event at UCL on 1st July 2019 part of Scaling (H2020 project) – innovations in Living Labs. The chair was Jack Stilgoe – Associate Professor, Science and Technology Studies, University College London. The second part of it emerged from Tom Wakefield at the ETC group which is looking at early stages of technology development and hold groups into account. The ETC group is interested in technology that will profoundly change the relationships of the public with experiments. The object of interest for ETC is ecosystems themselves and having unintended consequences. Consent and legitimacy are at the centre, with GM mosquitos modified to address malaria through gene drive.
We look at a film that is addressing gene drive (above) – in particular, the proposed testing of gene drive mosquitoes and the upcoming release of genetically modified mosquitoes by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Target Malaria project in Burkina Faso. The film “a question of consent – about Burkina Faso experiments with mosquitos in Target Malaria experiment with a gene drive with to eradicate the mosquito through gene transformation. There was permission to release GMO mosquitos to the wild. There is an experience with the failure of GMO cotton. Target Malaria is stating that they work with the local agency and care about the health and environmental consent. People ask questions about what will come after the eradication – which insects will thrive and what will they do? Local people are stating that they are not informed or that consent was asked from them. People are not aware that the project is the first gene drive example in the world.
Zahra Moloo – independent researcher and director of the film “A Question of Consent: Exterminator Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso”. The background to the film – the issue has been in the media for a while, and she’s working for the ETC group and therefore the context is as a journalist and as part of the group, trying to see what people at Burkina Faso to know what the local people know. Most journalists were taken to the place with the project people. They went in October 2018, and there was also a GMO demonstration – on the ground, there are people who are telling a different story. Today, some GMO drive mosquitos will be released and they say that they obtained consent in the village Bana and the film shows that this is not the case. The release today is GMO male mosquitos, but not gene drive. There are open issues of consent and who should decide.
Lim Li Ching – Senior Researcher, Third World Network. The first point is that it is not only about gene drive, but many other examples of application – e.g. using GMO viruses to crop and other mechanisms, can lead to unexpected biodiversity impacts. Gene drive is deliberate ways to influence wild populations and eradicate species potentially. It’s a new power of humans. This raises legal and moral questions for society. Who should decide and choose which species are expandable and can be removed? The international community – the parties of the treaty on biodiversity decided that any environmental releases that can impact local communities and indigenous people, then a free, prior and informed consent is required. It’s a very involved process – the FPIC process is based on rights for self-determination – the right to be consulted, the right to participation, and the right for land and resources. That is based on the rights of indigenous people. Need to respect the decision making the process of the processes. The process has been integrated into any intervention that influences indigenous people, their environment, and resources. The process of consultation is as important as achieving FPIC. There are many examples of not carrying out the process properly. There is also the right of redress – who is allowed to do it? It’s a serious exercise and project proponents should demonstrate.
Brice Laurent – Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation, ParisTech (formerly Paris School of Mines). The example is an extreme example of carrying out a policy through experiments – a version of evidence-based policy, being responsible with public money. Experiments are presented as collaborative and participatory. The example is not to take it for granted, and to consider how to make policy decisions through experiments – e.g. RCTs that are a basis for policy. In contrast, the experiments of electric scooters in cities, which are released as something new to test the regulatory framework. it is important to test collective decisions through these experiments. The problem: the boundary is not clear when people are entities that collect data but don’t know that they are collecting data for companies and experiments with technologies. The second reasons not to take for granted is about the expected benefits – e-scooters: the investors are the one that will benefit, this is an economy that provides the investor. So who benefits from the experiment? Who benefits? Most autonomous cars experiments can be about other things – e.g. using sensors in order to learn about them and use them in another context. It’s not clear who should be impacted. With experiments – it is another political philosophy about the rule of the state, when we do intentional irreversibility we restrict political choices in the future. Politics of acceptance – how to create new testing grounds, changing regulatory frameworks.
Lim/Zahra – in some cases, specific consent of the individual is not possible. It depends on consent. It should be a process of dialogue and not just a simple consent for one activity. Consent is not a yes/no. Need to think who push the study and why. Some people from the Target Malaria who were invited to public debate didn’t come. Do you know where the money comes from? Are there alternatives?
Brice – consent is thought as a single person and as a one-time event, and it doesn’t consider groups and communities. How to identify the communities and who should be involved?
Q: experiments in the open – how do identify when it is an experiment? In many cases, we have a need to define when an action is an experiment? Another question is what constitutes the information that should be shared? Who should be consulted and how to decide how to include the difficulties of making these decisions? The gene drive is argued to be a way to open up acceptance to GMO.
Answers: Brice – the history of things being released over time, but there is a contemporary consent of conducting test and experiments, changing regulatory rules and seeing what they lead to. For example, creating sandboxes where removing constraints to allow people to experiments. There is colonial and postcolonial involvement. Li – there are moving from lab to the field, and the power of this technology, and the large scale ecosystem engineering. We don’t see the use of precautionary principles, and a tendency of technologies to move fast and a rush to use the technology. The race to innovate become a justification all by itself. People feel that that they haven’t been involved – more stakeholders engagement then consent.
There is something new, but we need to consider a collective consent – we rely on representatives to provide consent, but maybe we should ask which consent and which experiments we should allow? What is the role of government in it? The work needs to be done to get to the stage where people can ask for consent? What a trust-worthy process looks like? Incompetence and herd mentality are important factors to understand why things happen the way that they are going.
The opportunity to be innovative – we have existing agreements and we need to innovate around them and accept them and need to understand precaution when working with indigenous groups. When there isn’t a long tradition of consultation, especially with indigenous groups. Including more people in the decision-making process – we need to consider who needs to be included and who need to be convinced. If we want to apply the Precautionary Principle, we need to keep it in mind and make it operational.
NGOs and businesses – in terms of good/bad – GMO was supposed to feed the world, and what we get golden rice, which didn’t work too well. We can look at the power differentials between NGOs and corporate NGOs. There is an issue of accountability and NGOs.
This is the second part of the plenary element of the DITOs final event and again, I’m reblogging Alice Sheppard’s notes (and editing them lightly):
The second part of the This is a continuation after the morning’s sessions. The session is based on a panel of other projects that have done work in Europe separately from DITOs, but where there has been some collaboration at least in ideas and potential of taking the lessons from DITOs forward. The session was chaired by Colombe Warin, who is the project officer of DITOs. The projects include:
D-NOSES – Rosa Arias (Ibercivis)
D-NOSES is a project creating the “International Odour Observatory”, which will be co-created. Mapping for Change is in their consortium. It takes an “extreme citizen science” approach – any literacy level, socio-economic status and gender of participants should be able to take part without barriers. You can follow them on dnoses.eu and @Dnoses_EU on Twitter.
Sparks – Maria Zolotonosa (Ecsite)
The project itself finished in June last year; was a project to bring RRI closer to citizens. Citizen science was understood in its broadest sense – data collection but also citizen input into policy making and research. It was officially public engagement, but citizen participation was crucial. They came up with a travelling exhibition into every member state of Europe; it was called “Beyond the Lab”. The exhibition is ongoing in Spain, Poland and the Netherlands. They took stories of citizen scientists, for example, a woman with Parkinson’s who uses self-tracking to monitor and take control over her disease, or a clean air activist in London who collaborated with parents to put air sensors on prams. These personal stories are very relatable to people, and they show how citizens can participate in science. Sparks introduced the “reversed science cafe”, in which people are asked to come up with questions to put to participants which can be investigated. Experts listen, change tables regularly, and bring back new things they learn to their countries. It takes inspiration from a regular science cafe in which an expert gives a talk and is asked questions – in this case, the roles are reversed and the scientist comes up with questions for the public! The citizens then discuss the questions, and the expert is often very surprised by the answers and gets new ideas for research. Lessons learned in exhibitions: personal stories are very important, exhibitions can be a catalyst for local mobilisation as long as a local partnership is established.
EU-Citizen.Science – Marzia Mazzonetto (ECSA)
A new project and website, a CSA or coordinated and support action. It has only just launched and is coordinated by the Natural History Museum in Berlin. ECSA has a large role. The main focus is to address what had been identified by the EC as a big need: to have a gateway, an entry point, into citizen science in Europe. There was an effort to involve as many European countries as possible. The platform should be a place for discussion to bring people together and ask about each other’s citizen science, or where citizens can find out what is in their area, or policy makers and science journalists to find out more. There are multiple stakeholders and there will be specific community needs.
WeObserve, Ground Truth 2.0 and other projects – Uta Wehn (IHE Delft)
In WeObserve, the project contains four communities of practice – academics, industries, communities of practice (such as DITOs partners!), citizens. Ground Truth 2.0 co-designs citizen observatories, which has a closer link with policy. Policy makers are invited into the room from the start. There are now six observatories, which each has a unique identity and has chosen its theme of research. They are liaising with policy makers. Many aspects are being re-used from other citizen science projects including DITOs; this has been made possible by sharing best practices. There is one more non-EU funded project called CSEOL, or Citizen Science Earth Observation Lab. DITOs has created a community of engaged citizens, Uta Wehn tells us – there is a huge base of people who now know what citizen science is and can participate.
Environmental Social Science Research Group – Balint Balazs, (ESSRG)
DITOs legacy – “rending invisible citizen sciences visible” – there is now a network of citizen science, including science shops. ESSRG is working as a science shop independently from universities, based in Hungary. The concept of invisible citizen science is connected to location and place. Many of us are not coming from the environmental perspective. Much of it has to do with cultural and institutional issues: what is each country’s science communication practice? Some examples of invisibility: Some citizen science projects are global; the academic papers’ titles often don’t reflect the fact that non-scientists took part. Environmental projects are often co-created and have social aspects. Do they lead to a transformative social innovation? Citizen science itself is often regarded as very niche and new, even by environmental aspects, and it is often feared that it would take a very long time for citizens to understand and develop coordinated scientific methods. There is also an apparent divide between east and west, the speaker, Balazs Balint, says – in his experience, the east has fewer established methods and celebration and also fewer academic papers. However, is invisibility an manifestation of something? How can we record the methods that are taking place, and what is the replacement for citizen science in these contexts? Are we seeing projects only funded through the EC? Are we drawing on a number of auxiliary terms? What kind of knowledge is provided, and created? Environmental citizen science can result from a state’s lack of action. Sometimes, there is knowledge that is not created by the state or academia. It is found that citizens would like to download and share data, and curate it. A culture change is taking place in several countries where democracy is a new (or “short, questionable”) experience. Many social sciences apps can be transferred or utilised to create citizen science projects, and create interesting opportunities for professionals, for example the collection and sharing of old private photos, a common digital heritage. Citizen activism is also going on, but never considered citizen science. FixMyStreet is an example of this – it has been running for 7 years in Hungary. There is a learning curve beyond these applications; people are reporting problems but would also like to take part in governance.
Q1) Language: regarding invisibility of citizen science – is this about language? eg black people’s contributions to science are often invisible and not put in the curriculum, which doesn’t mean they aren’t creating knowledge, they might simply call it something else? Is it about language, or is it about action, or some combination? (To a Black person, “invisible” has a very specific meaning and counter-narratives and counter-perspectives are very important.)
A1) a) There is colonial thinking! There is much going on that is invisible but is not called citizen science, partly because of the language but partly because of different knowledge. It is probably much to do with language, but not entirely. b) Language is only what we can articulate; what is in our heads is much broader. How can we tap into that knowledge base? Language isn’t the only method we have. (Answer b is from Uta, who has done work in Africa with water supply issues; she will be told by very knowledgeable local people: “You are the fifth person who wants to co-create a project with me on this, and I haven’t got time – I need to spend time in the field or my family will be hungry!”)
Q2) What is the potential for citizen science to open up the anarchy of science beyond the academic facade? What is it like to be a scientist?
A2) a) It is very mixed, and we get mixed up in the terminology. There are things we call citizen science, public engagement, etc – these terms have something in common. But to look from a more traditional point of view of data collection, it does play a role in science communication. It gives people the opportunity to feel like scientists. The people who participate in citizen science projects are often white middle-class men, which means we aren’t reaching a diverse audience (although DITOs reached 51% women, 49% men). b) Sometimes amazing experiences aren’t communicated to the outside world. The Journal of Science Communication is open access; it would be good to use lessons learned in here to reach more communities. c) We use many techniques to utilise communications. There are times when we simply collect data from citizens, but we can also use bottom-up work – and these two disciplines can enrich each other. There is also data journalism.
Q3) Do any of the panelists have a single particular action they would like to implement, or problem to solve, or policy change to make? For example, to insist that academic papers’ titles reflect the citizen participation? (There are papers who credit every single citizen who takes part.) Should not all participants be credited when there is funding?
A3) Co-design is brilliant, but we can be restricted by having to report all methods to funders – for example, needing to say who will be coders in advance, which then means citizens can’t co-design platforms. So one future change would be more flexibility!
Question about language from @erinmaochu people are creating knowledge but it invisible, e.g. black people in the UK develop counter narrative. A: indeed we need to be careful about language and there are different forms of knowledge , @UtaWehn@Balint_ESSRG#DITOsfinal
This is a reblogging of the reporting from DITOs final event, which was blogged by Alice Sheppard (which I’ve edited, lightly):
Introduction to the day
Camille Pisani, the Director of RBINS praises numerous volunteers and collaborators who have worked together, and the way different activities have been aimed at reaching many different audiences. There have been many localised events, such as waste management or coastal environmental issues. What makes DITOs different in her views is the integrative approach to the multiple meanings of “citizen science”. Citizen science goes back a long way, but for some people it’s still a new thing, and we’re still in the process of reaching out, even with simple things like communication. At the other end of the scale are people who have been volunteering or experimenting in science outside the professional environment for a very long time. When Camille met Muki four or five years ago, she was extremely interested in the idea of the escalator model.
Muki Haklay is next on “The DITOs journey”. He starts with “the world needs more citizen science” and the DITOs video. The DITOs story started in the middle of 2013 with the launch of the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA). As a fledgeling organisation, the question was how to get it going. In 2014, DITOs was set with a process in which UCL asked partners what they’d be interested in doing during the next few years, and design a project around these plans. They not only thought up the escalator, but also the thought of aiming at more bottom-up citizen science. UCL would lead, because ECSA was still building capacity and was not ready to lead a project. The initial bid was lost to Sparks, which was a wonderful project, but in 2015, a second call came out and in May 2016 DITOs began just after the 2016 ECSA conference. DITOs is very diverse, with a museum, NGOs, SMEs, universities, labs – a very diverse team with an original promise to run 500 events and engage 290,000 participants plus 1.3 million online. It was quite an ambitious target! Muki next mentions the “onion diagram”, which put UCL and ECSA at the centre with many activities and areas going on around them. The objectives included “deep public engagement”, a broad range of public activities, to strengthen ECSA, to do cross-European fertilisation and knowledge-sharing by way of a lot of interaction between the partners, and to reach out to excluded groups. Muki has rewritten the escalator model a few times to develop the ideas and have some exact numbers, such as precisely how many people in the UK are active in DIYBio, and how many watch Blue Planet or visit the science museum. Many more people “passively consume” science (such as the above activities) versus taking a more active role, such as recording birds in their garden. In many cases, people run out of time to do science, for example, while trying to support a family; the escalator allows people to move up and down according to their preference and ability. All the knowledge-sharing leads to project partners spending a great deal of time together, including in local citizen science such as visiting lakes or rivers, and all becoming friends.
Linden Farrer from the European Commission DG RTD (the department that is responsible for research and innovation) is next – DG RTD chooses which projects to fund, or not fund through open calls. DITOs was funded out of a part of H2020 which is dedicated to bringing people and science together (Science with and for Society – SWAFS). The objectives are, of course, bringing science and society together, but also fostering more talent for science and pairing scientific excellence with social responsibility. This can involve co-creation of agendas and policies by several stakeholders – which is quite broad, with a wide range of activities, and maybe discussing results or doing science with citizens. DITOs got funding under a topic called “Pan-European public outreach”, with the aim of increasing public awareness of science and RRI. Now, 2/3 of the way through H2020, they are concentrating on increasing the impacts and effectiveness of the programme, focusing on fewer topics but more closely – and one of such topics is exploring and supporting citizen science (others include institutional change, gender equality, etc – there are still quite a few you can find if you google Citizen Science in SWafS!). Linden lets us know that the future of H2020 and SwafS very likely involves working directly with citizens and civil society organisations.
The next several presentations are results of DITOs by many of its staff, taking five minutes each, moderated by Margaret Gold.
Judy Barrett, UCL, on the escalator model
Extreme Citizen Science group conceived the idea of DITOs in 2014, with the idea that citizen science should be driven by local needs, practices and cultures. UCL has mostly focused on WP6, “coordination, support and management”, which surrounds all the other work packages (such as policy). We’ve also produced a study of business models of citizen science. Our outputs from WP6 is itself a DITOs legacy, because other projects will be able to use it. We carried out 90 events, which we’ll see more of later. We implemented a MOOC (massive open online course) which has now been operating for 2 years, which has been signed up to by about 1000 people, and is also part of MSc programmes at UCL. Our events are aimed at equipping people with tools to answer their own scientific questions. We’ve made our own escalator model as “the consortium journey” – for several of us, it was our first experience of interdisciplinary work, or citizen science, or many other topics. It was therefore vital to create a supportive, communicative environment, with practice-sharing and exchange of ideas being vital. Some staff of partners were scientists with little experience of citizen science. But many individual staff members felt they had personally grown. Individual highlights include a dedication to progress in citizen science, collaboration with experts, and multi-stakeholder engagement.
Gaia Agnello, ECSA, environmental sustainability
The aim was to introduce citizen scientists and policy makers on developing methods for involvement, bolstering networks, promoting knowledge exchange and events all over Europe. ECSA particularly established the European BioBlitz Network, facilitating best practice exchange between anyone who runs BioBlitzes. Three DITOs partners subsequently established their first BioBlitz. MediaLab Prado created “Interactivos” of discussions and workshops on different topics each year, such as sustainable mobility, food systems, waste management etc. Kersnikova organised the Sister’s Lab, promoting transdisciplinary activities and gender equality, empowering women to collaborate through teaching and learning. UCL ran all-age workshops on air quality, including teaching people how to make environmental monitoring devices. European Green Week last year included discussions of environmental citizen science’s impact on policy. Lessons learned include: balance your organisation’s mandate with the values of the poeple involved; care for participants; co-design events as much as possible – talking to people before designing events; make sure the project has been felt by communities as their own because this will increase impacts; and take care of your team and yourself!
Imane Baiz, CRI-Paris, UPD and BioDesign
WP1 is Biodesign, which even the project leaders found a mysterious word at the beginning! It may mean art, or integrating buildings into the ecosystem, or synthetic biology (including the tools and methods). It connects people – for example, scientists with artists. It is interdisciplinary. It also connects ideas, too. We had a total of 700 events, which involved a lot of travelling and creating exhibitions, and partners showing their work to each other, going into schools, designing the Science Bus. It can be about empowerment – designing a sustainable future, inspired by nature. There were also different notions from different people – for example of extensive travel, but in fact, it’s like a group of superheroes who are trying to make the world a better place.
Paweł Wyszomirski, Eco21/Meritum, air quality
Polish cities are suffering from serious air pollution, especially in autumn and winter. Eco21 began to work with policy makers. They were creating data, which they decided to use to empower people to do something about the pollution – which involved teaching people how to use numbers to make decisions. This also allows people to talk with others in their neighbourhoods. Membership of ECSA allowed Eco21 to be invited to an air quality workshop, to learn how to empower and engage people in citizen science and in being able to do something about poor air quality. Pawel hopes that many people will come and ask him about European Clean Air Day.
Carole Paleco, RBINS, the escalator model at the museum
A way that RBINS have tried to apply the escalator model is to evaluate their activities and events, and also trying to involve the citizens at an early stage. At a citizen science cafe, for example, the monitoring and evaluation of feedback from participants has led to being able to give the facilitator feedback each time. They have a small touring exhibition that goes to schools in the Brussels region. They’ve organised biodiversity workshops with volunteers. They asked participants what they would put on a “Z-Card” which would go out to schools to raise awareness of biodiversity. She gave a report on a Phasma Meeting at RBINS, and organised their first BioBlitz last year. It was very focused with five scientists. The XperiBird has given out nestboxes to schools so that the children can observe birds nesting and bringing up chicks.
Simon Gmajner, Kersnikova, Bridging the Gap
Kersnikova aims to bridge the gaps between scientists and artists, also with participants and events. There was no phrase for “citizen science” in Slovenian, so it was translated best as “participatory science”. They then decided to organise exhibitions which would spur discussions. They did a BioArt exhibition which included science cafes which deepened discussion and complimented the artists’ and scientists’ modes of engagement. They managed to host the author of a book on biotechnology. A problem they ran into was people asking “What is art and what is science here?” which they found they could not always answer! They wanted to build an ecosystem that would support itself, which involved training people in interdisciplinary matters. They have a biotechnology lab and also ran workshops on biorobotics and soil tasting! They also trained mentors, so that citizens who had been coming for a long time could teach newer people.
Claudia Gobel, ECSA, Policy Engagement
DITOs has many public engagement activities, but also wants to talk to decision makers, which ECSA has focused on – at European, national and local levels. They’ve held 16 discovery trips, 17 stakeholder round tables, a pan-European policy forum and many more additional workshops and events. These took place in various countries. Policy briefs have come out of this, with a focus on open science and on responsible research and innovation. There is a diversity of voices in citizen science. It is very important to understand how citizen science is conceptualised and done – which is where the escalator was very important. There are different communities of practitioners. Citizen science needs cultural change and a plurality of voices, transparency, diversity, inclusiveness and these must be very important in our organisations. They also want to build more networks of stakeholders. Claudia also highlighted the citizen science book – if you’re here, please help yourself to a copy, or download it here.
Ted Fjallman, Tekiu UK, WP4 Policy Engagement
Across the project, we’ve managed to achieve 50% more events than we originally planned – DITOs has been very successful in the policy area, too. Tekiu is a for-profit organisation, though is not seeking to make a profit from DITOs. Ted observes that people are learning differently. He asked how many of us go to the cinema (nearly everyone); how many would be willing to pay what you’d pay for the cinema to attend a policy event? It was fewer people. Tekiu joined DITOs to understand how society is changing as a whole (which they cannot ask a single company). Discovery Trips are Tekiu’s brand; they take 10 to 25 people on a trip from one country to another to meet with their counterparts abroad so both parties can learn what the others do. Sometimes, participants may go on for example to join their city council. They plan to keep linking scientists with policymakers. They feel the future lies in active monitoring – we all have a phone, which has technology we wouldn’t have been able to imagine 30 years ago. It is, therefore, time to update the way we think.
Adam: Was part of Science has no Borders at UCL. Had a stall with an artist friend who collaborated on art and science of complexity. Attended film nights which included discussions of uneasy topics such as the history of eugenics. Attended Do It Together bio workshops, which taught him how to do simple biology experiments and procedures, use cutout microscopes, and learning about work at an aquarium and how to sample from the wild.
Bernard: Also worked with Rachel at the aquarium (as above), organised some workshops in Ireland with aerial kite mapping to which some environmentalist groups were invited; they hope to map their waterways in the future. They have also worked with young people from youth work in Ireland – they took some cameras which would otherwise have ended up in a landfill, and allowed young people to take the cameras apart to see what was inside them and convert them into near-infrared.
Roland – OpenWetLab evenings at Waag. His background is biology but he’s learning a lot of DIYbio and technology this way. Went to Kersnikova for a Bio-Art project and conference – all these were funded by DITOs; many participants in a Bio-Art movement came from around the world.
Mark – Was a Science Bus captain. Had already done a lot of outreach and engagement activities around Ireland. Science Bus involved travelling in a camper van around Europe collaborating with museums etc to work with the local public and get them engaged in workshops. The bus captains travelled together but didn’t always know each other beforehand! They taught the public how to carry out small DIY projects and gave them tools to investigate the world around them, also encouraging them to investigate and critique the world around them in this way. His favourite part was getting people interested who had never carried out scientific activities this way before. They were interested in the public’s life hacks and traditional remedies – how did people get information about what to do about (for example) what to do about bruises or mosquito bites when they didn’t engage much with science? A commonly stated solution was “urinate on it”!
Pen: worked with Cindy on delivering electronics workshops for the public, learning about open hardware and taking control over it and understand it. Has also worked with Cindy on DIY environmental sensing. He has also been investigating the nature of knowledge and creativity, such as creative commons licensing – how to creatively subvert copyright laws to share knowledge. He has, therefore, run many workshops in different places such as Italy, Scotland etc, and worked with hackerspaces. He has found that many people don’t know how to solder, so has used conductive thread.
Q: Has DITOs changed the way you do your work or practice?
Adam: Yes, now collaborates and gives talks, and works with many different people – DITOs was a big confidence-booster.
Bernard: Current role means diverting mattresses from landfill; quantifies work, work done manually – makes that work visible. Does mapping, community gardens, working with young people and getting them to understand the importance of data.
Roland: Has trained biohackers who then go on to train each other; has enjoyed watching skills spread. DITOs has personally influenced him to give workshops, feeling there is a mix between arts and science.
Mark: The Waag had the idea of the science bus; when he met them he felt they were wonderful but had a different way of thinking from how he would have carried out his work, so it taught him a new way of seeing things, which he felt was progressive. He applied these ideas to the science bus and his own work in Ireland. He returned to Ireland trying to find out how to engage the largest number of people possible – and has used the opening of Ireland’s new science centre to engage more people in citizen science and to see what they can do themselves.
Pen: Worked with a citizen scientist who built his own tools and developed his own methods for ecology – and discovered a population of deer near his village. This caught the attention of the local authorities, who built a protected area for the deer. Citizens do not just passively collect data. Science can make all of us become more engaged citizens.
The EU-Citizen.Science is a new project that is part of a family of citizen science projects that are funded through the Science with and for Society (SwafS) stream of the Horizon 2020 programme. The project started in January and will run for 3 years. It is coordinated by the Natural History Museum of Berlin (the Museum für Naturkunde – MfN) and the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA).
The meeting was opened by Johannes Vogel, the director of MfN and the chair of ECSA who set a target for the project, with the German presidency of the European Union in 2020, and the need to prepare activities that will emphasise the role of citizen science in cities.
Next, Linden Farrer from DG RTD provided the context for the project. The SwafS is about 500m Eur part of H2020, that tries to build effective co-operation, foster the recruitment of new talent for science and pair scientific excellence with a connection to societal needs. These goals have been turned into eight lines of activities. Citizen Science is falling under public engagement. The interim evaluation of SwafS in 2017 found it highly relevant, that there is satisfactory efficiency with a low success rate in calls – it’s the home for civil society organisations. SwafS is highly coherent with internal and international policies, and very high added value – it is not competing with local funding, and because of the level of funding, there is limited effectiveness. As a response to the evaluation, the focused the calls on sustainable institutional changes, focus on “doing R&I” through citizen science and user-led innovation, encourage collaboration among projects, and identify SMART impacts that can be measured. They align with overall goals: RR (MoRRI) SDGs, COP21 etc. The strategic orientation includes building the knowledge base, exploring and support citizen science, and other activities. There are future calls within the area of citizen science and there are 41 projects of which 31 are still active. There are many other H2020 projects that have an element of citizen science. Finally, RRI is an important element that is cross-cutting in H2020 and it is aimed to involve citizens, civil society organisations (CSO) and other non-traditional actors in EU research programmes. There is an aim to change the governance of research. The MoRRI D3.2 report is showing the interaction between different areas of the agenda. There are different projects that are taking an RRI approach is different between projects across the H2020 goals. There is almost no project in the ERC portfolio that is falling under the RRI framework. There are also projects that are going beyond the EU – with international partners that are no in the EU – from Japan to Chile.
Beyond H2020 and into Horizon Europe, the Lamy report pointed the need to mobilise and involve citizens. In Horizon Europe, there is more mission-based science – there is a bigger budget – 400 mil Eur to enhance citizen science and enhancing the European R&I system. The is an article on open science in general, and different R&I missions – a portfolio of actions that require a multi-stakeholder and transdisciplinary approach to achieve goals within a given time frame. The Open Science Policy Platform included in its recommendation citizen science (recommendation 8 in a document from 29/05/2018). OSPP build the visibility of citizen science – opening a roadmap, vision and skills to increase the recognition of it.
Colombe Warin, the Project Officer in charge of the project point that the consortia have a strong obligation for dissemination – need to freely share research strategies, methodologies, raw data, and methodology – to show commitment to citizen science and to the principles of RRI. It is also important to notice the difference between communication and dissemination as a concrete activity of the project, although these are mixed in citizen science projects.
Katrin Vohland, the project PI pointed to the complexity of citizen science, the complexity of interpreting citizen science, and variety of ideas about what it is, how to call the people who participate, and which disciplines which bring with them different ways of understanding it, the methodologies… There are many approaches to data quality and accessibility. The project itself is the creation of a central hub for cross European Knowledge Sharing, including best practices, and there are lots of material that is emerging and need to be collected. We need a co-design of tools and guidelines so they are relevant to different audiences. The project includes 6 main work packages – first platform, community and network building; WP3 – the content of the platform which includes context, quality assurance and curation to consolidate the citizen science knowledge base; WP5 is about empowering diverse stakeholders to become citizen scientists, start citizen science project or adopt the professionally through training; WP4 that is about exploring new pathways of participatory governance with the public and policymakers, and finally WP6 that about advancing citizen science into mainstream of public engagement, science communication and education by dissemination and exploitation.
Approach to the platform in WP2 with a focus on the platform, community and network building – technology decisions are still open in order to support different audiences: participants, practitioners, policy makers, and science journalists. The groups made the first steps of recognising what are the training needs, how they are linked to specific tools and formats, and what user-centred design principles should guide the implementation.
WP3 is focusing on identifying quality criteria that will be used to judge which tools and resources will be curated on the platform. It is led by IIASA. This was done by identifying specific tools and then considering what quality criteria apply to them – for example, ECSA’s 10 principles of citizen science. About 20 “tools” were recognised in a 20 minutes exercise.
WP4 is about awareness and engagement and is led by Earthwatch – it will share a conceptual model for awareness, empowerment, and engagement and then develop tools and strategies for citizen engagement. It will also provide a coordinated approach to citizen science with other SwafS initiatives. There is also an element of reaching out to policymakers.
WP5, which UCL is leading on, is focusing on training. First, a core objective is to assess the training needs of those inexperienced in citizen science and those that are involved in it. Based on that, aggregate, curate, and create a suite of innovative training resources to address these needs and enhance European knowledge sharing in this area. There will be a specific effort to increase linkages with SDGs. Finally, the WP5 will try to identify and develop a delivery model that reaches citizen scientists and potential practitioners/citizen science project leaders in all countries of Europe. This work package starts only in the summer of 2019 with the gap and needs analysis. There are multiple target groups: Public (newcomers and citizen scientists), Practitioners (coordinators), Academia (career scientists, primary and secondary school teachers), Policymakers (and civil servants), Press (journalists and media experts), and SMEs and industry (and new entrepreneurs). So identifying needs and considering what form of training suit them will be quite a task…
WP1 is led by MfN and deals with management is also tasked with coordination with other projects that are funded from the same call – the SwafS 15 which is about exploring and supporting citizen science. There is a whole group of projects in the call that can be linked to the coordination effort of EU-Citizen.Science. For example, MICS, a project that is coordinated by Earthwatch is focusing on measuring the impact of environmental citizen science and in particular on river restoration, and they aim to provide tools that support the process of understanding and measuring impacts. In WeObserve, there is a CoP on Impact. The Super-MoRRI provide another set of impact evaluation. Integrating these into EU-Citizen.Science so information can be shared widely is important. The ACTION project will include cascading grants for participatory science toolkit about pollution.
WP6 which is focusing on dissemination and communication is led by ECSITE and Daphnie Daras and Suzanna Fillipecki presented it – the European Network of Science Centres and Museums. The effort of Ecsite effort will include helping with communication with science journalists and science centres across Europe. The project will inherit the social media channels of DITOs. The need to reach out to the multiple target groups with different messages to reach out to them. Some early analysis involved identifying specific messages – for example, for researchers who are not involved in citizen science, to find a way to encourage them to understand and consider it.
WP7 is about evaluation and impact assessment. It is led by the centre for social innovation in Vienna (ZSI), with Barbara Kieslinger and Teresa Schafer. ZSI is a not-for-profit that works on different social innovation and got into citizen science through an interest in maker spaces and DIY science, and provided input into the Socientize project in 2014 and many activities since. The WP is assessing the usefulness and user acceptance of the project’s activities. Although we have described objectives, we need to define the details of what will be the measurements of success and knowing that we’ve reached the objectives.
One of the joys of the Doing it Together Scienceproject is that it provides opportunities to work closely with different partners from very different areas. One such a collaboration is with Bruno Strasser and his group at the University of Geneva who are researching citizen science from an STS/history of science perspective.
Over the first part of 2018, Bruno and I developed a report for the Swiss Science Council on citizen science. Here is the summary of the report:
“Citizen science” refers to a broad range of activities where people produce scientific knowledge outside of traditional scientific institutions. From mapping natural phenomena to analyzing scientific data, sharing health information, and making
new technologies, citizen science occurs across all the disciplines of science and involves a number of different methods of inquiry, both orthodox and alternative. It includes projects directed by scientists and by grassroots organizations as well as projects where power over the design, implementation, and the use of outputs is shared among participants and organizers.
Citizen science is not a completely novel phenomenon since it was the main mode of practicing science for centuries. But the professionalization of science and the rise of experimentalism since the mid-nineteenth century has increasingly separated professional scientists from the public, and this accelerated in the second part of the twentieth century. Citizen science, and other participatory research activities, reconnect ists and the public in new ways. Unlike previous attempts at bridging the gap between science and the public through science communication or through deliberative forums, in citizen science the public directly contributes to the production of knowledge, though in many cases their role is restricted to data collection or simple analysis.
Citizen science is witnessing a rapid growth and is increasingly being recognized by national governments and science funding agencies as a promising solution to three sets of problems affecting the relationships between science and society. First, citizen science can contribute to science by providing a large workforce to solve research problems that require extensive observations (mapping biodiversity) or the analysis of big data sets (classifying galaxies). It can also contribute new do-it-yourself (DIY) research tools, foster Open Science, and bring more inclusive methods to scientific research. Second, it can contribute to improving citizens’ scientific literacy, specifically with regard to the nature of science and scientific inquiry, which is crucial for the ability of citizens to position themselves in democratic debates about scientific and technical issues. Third, it can contribute to making science more democratic, both in the sense of including more diverse people in the practice of science and in making science better aligned with the public interest. It can also increase public trust in science and help governments fulfil their international monitoring obligations, for example for biodiversity or air quality.
The great opportunities of citizen science for science, education, and democracy, but also the risks of cooptation by scientific institutions and of populist undermining of professional expertise deserve serious critical attention from scholars and policy makers.
Common conceptualisations of participation assume high-level participation is good and low-level participation is bad. However, examining participation in terms of high and low levels of knowledge and engagement reveals different types of value in each case.
The spectrum of citizen science activities means some are suitable for people who have education and knowledge equivalent to PhD level, while some are aimed at non-literate participants. There are also activities suitable for micro-engagement, and others requiring deep engagement over time.
Issues of power, exploitation and commitment to engagement need to be explored for each citizen science project, as called for by the ECSA Ten Principles of Citizen Science, in response to the need for a more nuanced view that allows different activities to emerge