UCL Sustainability week – a global university that is also Sommers Town local university

UCL is marking its sustainability week between 29th October and 4th November. As part of the activities to mark the Green UCL initiative. I was interviewed to this video, together with other researchers and professional staff who are committed to integrating sustainability into their work. The video was shot around UCL and the nearby area.

The video is aimed “to provide a sustainability induction for students and staff and to inspire students and staff with the range of sustainability solutions being developed at UCL; through our research but also through student and staff-led projects”.

I consider it quite an honour to be in this video which the interviewees’ list include Richard JacksonMark Miodownik, Helen Czerski, Andrea Sella, Kate Jones, and Sarah Bell and many more. My contribution to this is to point to our local commitment…

Advertisements

Nature article on citizen science: mixing typologies

About a week ago, the journal Nature published a feature article about Citizen Science No “PhDs needed: how citizen science is transforming research“, with the subtitle: “Projects that recruit the public are getting more ambitious and diverse, but the field faces some growing pains.” The report was written by the science journalist Aisling Irwin who contacted me, among many other people that are linked to the European networks of researchers that promote citizen science as an important research approach that achieves multiple goals – progressing our scientific understanding, developing new links to society, and raising awareness about environmental issues, amongst other. The European bias in the interviews is somewhat unfortunate, as it misses some divergence in views (e.g. the US view from the leadership of the Citizen Science Association).

The article is excellent and provides an up to date description of some of the activities that are currently happening, especially in projects that are funded as part of the EU Horizon 2020 programme. It focuses on large-scale projects, which can involve many thousands of participants. From air quality Antwerp, to Geo-Wiki project in IIASA, and the range of the applications in Ground Truth 2.0. It also raises some of the challenges – including, as expected, complaints about data quality, though it does recognise that there is a need for appropriate methods that are designed for citizen science to ensure quality.  The article is describing mostly the European perspective of citizen science, and the US, Australia, and other parts of the world are not covered as well.

One unfortunate thing in the article is a piece that is attributed to me: “Muki Haklay, a geographer at University College London, has outlined a taxonomy of involvement, from ‘crowdsourced’ citizen science, in which lay people contribute data or volunteer computing power, to ‘co-created’ and ‘collegial’ research, in which members of the public actively engaged in most aspects of a project, or even conduct research on their own.” I find this statement rather amusing since it is a mash-up of two typologies of citizen science. My classification from 2013, with the one by Jennifer Shirk and her colleagues from 2012 (which I call the 5C’s). I tried to compare the different typologies – the one by Andrea Wiggins and Kevin Crowston, the 5C’s and mine – you can see that they don’t match completely which might explain the confusion?

ComparingTypologies

Social Innovation and Citizen Science in Shanghai & Shenzhen

During the 22 to 29 October, I visited Shanghai & Shenzhen together with Michael Norton (CIVA), who organised the visit, and Liz Barry (Public Lab). This was a packed tour, with two all-day workshops that are dedicated to citizen science (one in Fudan University, Shanghai, and the other as part of the Asian Environmental Innovation Forum (AEIF) 2018 in Shenzhen at the Open FIESTA facility in Shenzhen), talks and visits to social enterprise hubs and social innovation activities, as well as participation in the Asian Environmental Innovation forum. This was my first visit to China, and as a result, it was an overwhelming experience – with a lot of things to try to make sense of, such as considerations for cultural practices (in other words, trying not to offend anyone unknowingly), or how the internet and mobile applications are experienced within the Great Firewall. This post is about some of the things that I’ve noticed during this visit.

Despite the fact that the three of us are focused on community action, the workshops and talks were designed as a general introduction to the area of citizen science, highlighting the potential for participation that is suitable for people who want to do something with little time investment, all the way to the DIY science approach that Public Lab promotes and dedicate significant time to such an activity. We also emphasised the link between getting involved in an activity as part of a wider awareness and actions that address social and environmental challenges. In the workshops, we started with an introduction to citizen science (me), followed by a talk on the ethos and activities of Public Lab (Liz), and finally about the use of information and insight for action (Michael). Next, we designed a session in which participants could experience different types of activities – from using two Zooniverse projects – the Wildes’ Wildlife Watch and Snapshot Serengeti, which provide different complexity in wildlife classification; A second group used their phones to install soundscape monitoring apps – the Chineses-based Participatory Soundscape Sensing using the SPL Meter app, and the German-based HushCity with the HushCity app. The participants downloaded and registered in class (only HushCity require registration), and then went out to collect information for about 10 minutes; A third group build the Public Lab DIY microscope and examined water taken from a local river; The last group focused on balloon mapping, which was the most involved task, culminating  in all workshop participants going outside for an aerial selfie. We have repeated the session twice, and allowing people to experience two areas of activities. Finally, there was a group work, on developing ideas on how to address plastic pollution with the help of citizen science.

The workshop in Fudan attracted about 35 participants, while 60 came to the one at Open FIESTA. In both cases, there were many students (with more postgraduate students in Fudan) as well as people from NGOs and civil society organisations. We also had a talk with about 10 people present and many more online through webcasting at Bottledream office which is an online network for social innovation and change makers, and a talk to about 30 people, many of them expat who live and work in Shanghai at Green Initiatives.

DSC_1283
Shenzhen workshop

Across the workshops and the talks, it was a pleasure to receive questions that were insightful and show real engagement with the potential of citizen science. The “data quality monster” (or should it be a dragon?) was dormant most of the time, although the second common question on motivations and reasons for participation did appear. I was asked several times about the inclusion of game elements and competition in citizen science project as a way to increase participation, and I pointed to the challenges that such an approach requires (dealing with cheating to score points, short engagement cycles etc.). There was a good question about the ownership of data and images and the intellectual property rights from a law student, and another one about ethics and the way in which consent is being secured in citizen science. Another valuable question was about the implications of Machine Learning (AI) on citizen science. People also asked about a specific area of application – e.g about projects that deal with coastal and marine issues. At the Bottledream talk, we explored the potential for social enterprise and investment in the area of citizen science. Finally, and not surprisingly, in each talk and workshop, the issue of collaboration with officials and the potential conflict in government did appear, with a lively discussion about different types of citizen science – those that are about helping progressing scientific knowledge vs. projects that are more aimed at civil action, and how to navigate these challenges based on our experience.

Technically, the Great Firewall helped in demonstrating the need for adapting apps and IT infrastructure to specific contexts – especially in view of the global initiatives for citizen science which must include China. Oddly, Zooniverse website was accessible in some networks (e.g. Fudan University), but in other places –  though it was mostly accessible if somewhat slow. But the issue with access especially stood out in the soundscape mapping. The SPL Meter app was easy to set up, and the results could be shown on the website and thus providing the all-important immediate feedback. HushCity (leftmost screenshot) could not show the information because it rely on Google Maps as background – which is also not available in China (middle). In contrast, I could demonstrate Mapping for Change community maps, because it relies on MapBox tiles, which are available in China. This, turn out, is not solving the whole problem, there is also the issue that China is using a different datum for its maps, which in plain language mean that there is a GPS shift that needs to be taken into account. There is a clear interest to share knowledge and best practice beyond the challenges of accessing a specific platform. There is also the issue of language. Hopefully, resources in citizen science can be shared by CitizenScience.asia and or the Open FIESTA.

Another insight was provided by the very different “app ecosystem”  in China. Because of the ubiquity of WeChat (equivalent to WhatsApp), which also have the ability of add-ons (which WhatsApp doesn’t), there is a whole range of applications that are possible which combine the intimacy of contact in a managed group with the ability to do more things. I learned about three applications which are relevant to citizen science. First Respond is a Chinese social business that provides first aid support for large public events – such as marathons. As part of the work with their volunteers, they organised crowdsourced mapping and checking of AED (Automatic Defiblerator) in which volunteers verify the location and preparedness of AED across a large area. Another example is the Sengo organisation of environmental volunteers who use WeChat to report river pollution incidents. Finally, the volunteer cleaning effort fo PickUpChina was using an app to record places that need a cleaning effort, and getting people to join and carry out a cleaning day.

DSC_1228
Shanghai Impact Hub

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were recurring theme throughout the visit at both social innovation spaces and universities – in the Impact Hub in Shanghai they are prominent, and at the workshops and the AEIF conference, they were mentioned frequently as a framing for education, social innovation, the wider regional support in the region (e.g. Laos, Cambodia), and also in thinking about the opportunity for citizen science. Thinking again about global initiatives, there is a need to link them to the SDGs since although they are not high on the agenda in say, the UK, they are a common language (as Liz describe them) between initiatives.

In addition to the SDGs, litter and addressing the challenges of plastic pollution was a recurring theme, and we have used it in the workshops as a final exercise, in which participants were split into 3 or 4 groups – government, industry, consumers, and young students (in the second workshop). The discussion between the group was lively (we asked them to discuss in Chinese), and it was clearly an issue that raises concern and interest to address it.

The social enterprise activities were also impressive in their ambition and content – from meeting Shiyin Cai, the founder of Dialogue in the Dark which provides an encounter with blindness for people who can see, to hearing from Xia Li, who founded Shenzhen Power Solution Ind who is committed to providing lighting and energy to “bottom of the pyramid” people, or Songqiao Yao, who founded Wildbound to link young people in China to global environmental issues. Visiting the two incubators in Shanghai –  the Impact Hub, but also 724 Cheers Hub – was fascinating and educating. DSCN3155

The final note is that looking at the participants during the hands-on session was delightful. As Michael pointed to them during the feedback session at the end of their experiences, they looked interested and engaged in trying and experimenting like “someone who is 9 years old“. Indeed, there was an active learning that was apparent in every stage, but especially during the flying of the balloons. The flying of the balloons to take a picture of the participants create a “focal practice” that brings people together, make them focus on the communal activity, and bring meaning to technological design and implementation.

The level of enthusiasm across the meetings and workshops was very high, with students giving up their weekend, or professional giving up a workday to attend an event. There was also a lot of generosity and help in working through language differences, helping to navigate the city, running a group at the workshops, or volunteering to translate a discussion. I was continuously grateful to all the lovely people that we met and talked with. Below you can see the “balloon selfie” from the Shenzhen workshop.

MOV_1292_Moment

Citizen Science: Innovation in open science, society and policy – a new open access book!

citizen_science Today marks the publication of the book “Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy“. The book emerged from the first conference of the European Citizen Science Association in Berlin, in 2016. While the summary of the conference is available in a journal article in Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, the book is an independent collection that goes beyond this specific event and providing a set of 31 chapters that cover different issues in the interface between citizen science, open science, social innovation, and policy.

Shortly after the conference, Aletta Bonn and Susanne Hecker, who coordinated it, suggested the development of a book that will capture the breadth of the field of citizen science that the conference exposed. Within a month, the editorial team which include Susanne Hecker, Anne Bowser, Zen Makuch, Johannes Vogel, Aletta Bonn, and myself started to work on the concept of the book and the appropriate publisher. We were committed to publishing the book as open access so it can be read by anyone who wishes it without limitations, and also so the chapters from it can be used widely. By publishing with UCL Press, which agreed to publish the book without charges, we had additional resources that we have used to work with Madeleine Hatfield of Yellowback to ensure that the book chapters are well edited and readable,and with Olaf Herling, a Berlin graphic designer, who helped us in developing and realising the graphic design of the book.

The chapters made quite a journey – they were submitted in late 2016, and were peer-reviewed and revised by mid-2017. As always with such an effort, there is a complex process of engaging over 120 authors, the review process, and then the need to get a revised version of the chapters. This required the editorial team to coordinate the communication with the authors and encourage them to submit the chapters (with the unavoidable extensions!). Once the chapters were in their revised form, they continued to be distilled – first with comments from the editorial guidance by Madeleine, but also with suggestions from Mark Chandler from Earthwatch, who provided us with an additional review of the book as a whole.

Susanne & Aletta in ECSA 2016

Susanne Hecker, the lead editor, put in a lot of time into communicating with the authors, the publishers, and the professional editors. Even as late as two months ago, we had the need to check the final proofs and organise the index. All that is now done and the book is out.

The book contains 31 chapters that cover many aspects of citizen science – from the integration of activities to schools and universities to case studies in different parts of the world.

Here is what we set out to achieve: “This book brings together experts from science, society and practice to highlight and debate the importance of citizen science from a scientific, social and political perspective and demonstrate the innovation potential. World-class experts will provide a review of our current state of knowledge and practical experience of citizen science and the delivery of will be reviewed and possible solutions to future management and conservation will be given. The book critically assesses the scientific and societal impact to embed citizen science in research as well as society.

The aim of this volume is to identify opportunities and challenges for scientific innovation. This includes discussions about the impact of citizen science at the science-policy interface, the innovative potential of citizen science for scientific research, as well as possible limitations. The emphasis will be to identify solutions to fostering a vibrant science community into a changing future, with actors from academia and society. Five main sections are envisaged with an editorial introduction and a thorough final synthesis to frame the book.

Innovation in Science: What are the governance and policy frameworks that will facilitate embedding citizen science in agenda setting, design and data collection of research projects and communication? What are innovation opportunities and challenges and where support is needed? How to ensure data quality and IP rights?

Innovation at the Science-Policy interface: What are the opportunities for citizen science to provide an input to better decision making? How is participation ensured across society and how does it lead to enhanced problem-solving?

Innovation in Society: How can citizen science lead to empowerment and enhanced scientific literacy and increase science capital? What is the social transformation potential impact of citizen science?

Innovation in Technology and Environmental Monitoring: What policy and technical issues citizen science and mobile sensor technology bring? How can it contribute to advances in environmental monitoring within existing and emerging regulations? What policy and practical framework can facilitate or harm this?

Innovation in Science Communication and Education: How have new media transformed science and what are the implication to scientists, public and science funders? How can new techniques open new opportunities and to whom? ”

The final book does not follow these exact sections, but the topics and questions are the same.

The book is free and you can now download it from UCL Press website – let us know what you think of it! 

 

Call for Participation in Vespucci Training School on Digital Transformations in Citizen Science and Social Innovation – January 2019

Apply until 31 October at https://www.cs-eu.net/events/internal/vespucci-training-school-digital-transformations-citizen-science-and-social 

The Role of Digital Technologies in Engaging Citizens (not only Citizen Scientists) in Social Innovation

Mini BioBlitz at Teppes de Verbois Nature ReserveWith the widespread availability of cheap, ubiquitous and powerful tools like the internet, the world-wide-web, social media and smartphone apps, new ways of carrying out both citizen science and social innovation have become possible. Often this means that barriers for citizens to engage in both science and social innovation have been lowered in terms of communication, outreach and scaling and thresholds for participation have also been lowered. There is an enormous potential for these technologies to strengthen the role of intermediary civil organizations and communities, and thereby to re-balance the playing field in favour of a broader range of actors – even those who do not use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). ICTs can also help citizen engagement in policy framing by facilitating their involvement throughout the policy cycle, from agenda setting to service design and provision up to policy impact evaluation, creating new roles for stakeholders and enabling new power relations. However, digital technology should also be put in context, as it is often not leading edge but existing off-the-shelf technologies that are used in social innovation. Thus, technology must always be seen in its close intertwinement with the actual world of people, places, and digital skills people may or may not have.

Aim and Goals of the Training School

This training school is a five-day event for doctoral students, researchers, policymakers, civic entrepreneurs, designers, and civil servants who are interested in exploring and learning about:

  1. how citizen science can be understood and/or used as a strategic or intentional approach to social innovation;
  2. the intertwining of social innovation with socio-technical developments, including the impacts of digital transformation;
  3. the relationship between policy framing, participatory research, and social innovation.

All that, with the principles of the Vespucci Initiative – slow learning, long discussion, and collaborative learning where everyone is respected and expected to contribute and learn.

expected outcome(s) of the Training School:

Participants will learn about new forms of collaborative socio-technical development for social innovation, analyze case studies, and apply what they have learned by building a real collaborative socio-technical development for involving citizens and other stakeholders. As a result, participants will learn new skills and, more importantly, they will know new people, peers to collaborate with and/or other professionals who can help their projects.
The program is built upon three main tracks. The first three days will be devoted to introducing participants to these tracks (one track per day). The last two days will be devoted to group work.

  1. Overview of citizen science in research and innovation.
  2. Citizen science, social innovation, and policy-framing.
  3. Digital technologies in citizen science and social innovation: opportunities and risks.

Organization Committee:
Sven Schade, European Commission DG Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy
Marisa Ponti, European Commission DG Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy
Cristina Capineri, University of Siena, Italy (local organiser)

Lecturers/Facilitators:

  • Muki Haklay, University College London, UK
  • Mara Balestrini, CEO Ideas For Change, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  • Stefan Daume, Founder and Chief Data Wrangler at the Scitingly Project, Stockholm Sweden
  • Sven Schade, JRC
  • Cristina Capineri, University of Siena, Italy
  • Marisa Ponti, JRC

A training school co-funded by JRC (www.vespucci.org) and COST Action 15212 Citizen Science to promote creativity, scientific literacy, and innovation throughout Europe

Date: January 21-25, 2019
Venue: Fattoria di Maiano, Via Benedetto da Maiano, 11, 50014 Fiesole FI, Italy
Nearest airports: Florence and Pisa; Nearest railway station: Florence.
Language of the training school: English
Maximum Number of Participants: 20

Apply until 31 October at https://www.cs-eu.net/events/internal/vespucci-training-school-digital-transformations-citizen-science-and-social – You don’t need to be part of the Cost Action on citizen science to apply! 

More information is available here.

Workshop notes: Exploring the potential of citizen science approaches for the development of undergraduate research skills

Notes from a Joint workshop of the Teaching and Learning and Citizen Science Special Interest Groups of the British Ecological Society, which was held on 12th October 2018 at the University of Reading. The workshop was organised by Alice Mauchline, who also opened the day.

I’ve followed that with a keynote: “The role of learning in community science and citizen science“. As a basis for this, I have used my talk from Citizen Inquiry which is exploring the role of learning in different types of citizen science projects. I start by covering three main typologies of citizen science (Wiggins & Crowston 2011, Shirk et al. 2012, and mine) and compared between them, pointing that they don’t include learning explicitly. I then mentioned different models of learnings from Laure Kloetzer’s work in Citizen Cyberlab, which is mostly based on contributory projects. This is followed by several examples of such projects, and the learning from them. For Collegial projects, I have used a model from Cindy Regalado’s PhD.  I end with demonstrating the learning from 3 projects of the extreme citizen science group (air quality monitoring, noise monitoring in Heathrow, and preparedness to earthquakes in Seattle). I end with the DITOs escalator which represents both personal and potential journeys which can help in conceiving future projects.

Project Splatter, Sarah Perkins, University of Cardiff – the SPLATTER project is a Social media PLATform for Estimating Roadkill and started in 2013, and the media got interested in the project. The fact that it got media attention helped, with a double spread in the Independent. The website and app are developed by volunteers and reports on Facebook, Twitter, and email are translate it into reporting by undergraduate students – it provides an opportunity for engaging in a professional way in social media. Undergraduate students are engaged through wildlife and conservation groups and offer dissertations, placements, volunteers. Students can also get a stipend to get involved in research projects over the summer. The dataset for 50,000 data points provides data management handling skills. Students compose the annual report, participate in general events and festivals, carry out dissertation projects and even to generate data – e.g. public engagement and running a survey with the Splatter project participants. In the summer placement project photo sharing websites images with geocodes used to assess the distribution of species. The students learn about network creation, organisational skills, understanding the scientific community, and how to manage social media professionally.

Challenges of running a citizen science project as an undergraduate
Arron Watson, University of Reading – as an undergraduate, had an interest in citizen science and wanted to run such a project. Interest in people’s interaction with the environment, and with a background in mental health he could see the potential health benefits. The idea was to understand, through citizen science how people interact with urban spaces, and see why people go to such spaces. The idea was to analyze photographs of green spaces by clicking on features (Zooniverse style) and explain why the participants are attracted to space and then it can be used to understand what are the patterns of data and preferences. The idea is to get preferences of people towards green spaces and think of the benefits for the participants. The Challenges include: “this more like a PhD, and need to be simplified”. The concern was that there wasn’t enough time, but not suitable for an undergrad project. However, he didn’t want to give it up – if there was a structure in place maybe that would help. The project became a set of fixed photos or green spaces based on the same background image – trees, flowers, and done a simple survey of preferences during a conference. Found a way to run it through YouTube. After this project, in an MRes project now focusing on a project around children identifying freshwater macroinvertebrates, through activity pack. Challenges of running a project-time: there is set time for an activity, so that is challenging. The compromise was to use photographs to identify macroinvertebrates, so that idea was put on hold. It is challenging as a student to run these projects!

Citizen Science education from the undergraduate perspective Mo Langmuir, The University of Nottingham/Ignite Futures! – Working on science education for children in Nottingham. Rick Hall was promoting the Lab_13 initiative in which the pupils become architects of their learning, with resident scientists – e.g. that Manuka Honey didn’t have observable health benefits. From the work of Ignite! develop ideas about the issue of Air Quality using the BSA to explore the local environment with students. They collaborated with LSx and FoE on a Diffusion Tubes project in schools and they aim to get comprehensive data across the city. She hasn’t heard about citizen science in undergraduate education. Her informal survey among acquaintances who completed their undergraduate studies in science shows that about 75% haven’t heard about citizen science, and only a few knew about it. However, the potential was positive, with people from different areas, so people who recently finished undergrad studies, were positive about it. It can also help, according to people’s opinions, to be serious about the scientific process. Citizen science needs to have practical skills in science, confidence in

Taking Note: Citizen Science to Science Learning, Colleen Hitchcock, Brandeis University, USA  (Slides here) – primary duties are teaching, and part of environmental studies group. Before graduate school, worked in the Audubon society so was familiar with it before her PhD. Citizen science was natural to engage students with environmental issues. Integrating citizen science into the curriculum can be a shift from a closed education perspective to open science perspective. An outside research lab is very locked in terms of the time of engagement (only when they are with the teacher) and what they are expected to do. In citizen science students can engage more openly – they can also work with other groups and communities. Bringing citizen science to the classroom is making the democratisation of science as the norm, open science happens alongside open education, and the science and is reaching out beyond the university – an open education way. By embedding citizen science we can create a culture where students are questions about the science. By doing citizen science it is possible to support students regardless of the specific topic of their studies. For example, in an iNaturalist ID-a-thon in the campus library. Other people were allowed to join and that opened up the process. Started including citizen science in every course she teaches, and that allow students to do research, increase awareness of scientific contribution and understand that outputs extend beyond the university – it’s experiential and service learning. Focus on biology and ecology. While a lot of the students won’t have a degree in science, it’s valuable to introduce them to the idea that they have a place in it regardless. Through the assignments, the students are both learning about citizen science and about doing citizen science, and also facilitate citizen science -bioblitz or city nature challenge. Classes can be big – 100 students and they start with the question – understand what is citizen science, and participate in a project, usually online in a contributory project. They provide evidence for this (screenshot) and that forms the basis for class discussion. Citizen science can complement course content – eg. biology and climate change is done through a campus phenology project that is linked to NPN, as well as explicitly using citizen science literature as the text for the course (instead of other literature). Students are exposed to citizen science in multiple pathways and won’t question data quality as a barrier. Old pictures of the campus can be compared and people can see the changes in seasonal cycles that already happened. Students learn about data and evidence and complete with a big climate change puzzle of putting all the information together. Finally, citizen science is used for professional development and mentorship and used to increase skills: research, science communication, education, and outreach. Interdisciplinary students are learning about linking issues of communication, environmental justice. Linking to outside organisations can be challenging. There are issues of problems of data that is evaluated by peers, by external citizen scientists – that is changing over the semester. Students are asked to reflect on their progress an see their own evolution. There is an opportunity to collaborate with other students, and understanding the value of the contribution to external communities. So an event “‘Deis does Citizen Science” provided a link to a virtual citizen science project on the basis of camera traps, and the students organised an event of “data sprint” where it was in the library, and then people moved to help in the project – 50 people attended the event, of which 25 participated in class and they were inventive in creating motivation – e.g. registering the activity as community contribution time. A survey of students after the course – beyond the course (3 and 5 years later): they have an understanding of citizen science, but there were also concerns about inclusivity and democratisation, but feel that it is a valuable tool. Some students seeing the value of engaging children, and someone thinks about it and their future family within their work. Relationships with the library are important, and in other areas, people are adopting it – e.g. using Galaxy Zoo in physics class. Librarians also organise digital humanities digitising with regular lunchtime meetings.

Student Environment Research Teams (SERTs); adopting the ethos of Citizen Science to develop future Citizen Science leaders in ecology – Anita Diaz, Bournemouth University and Michelle Brown, National Trust – work with the national trust and undergraduate students. Leading a programme on wildlife conservation – about harnessing the vitality of citizen science to encourage students on how much they do. The SERT collaboration is about volunteer placement. Citizen science as a mirror for the students: carrying data that matter, showing students that what they do is a step towards leadership in wildlife conservation. Empowering students that they can make a difference. Thinking about what it is that they are learning and gained through the project? The Purbeck Wildlife SERT is an area with rich biodiversity, and there are a citizen science projects that involve experts in wildlife that are retired and live in the area. The work with volunteers connects a range of landscapes. It includes 2 weeks of field ecology project. Move students toward co-creation, and students can find their own level – mixed levels of students from undergrads to masters. There are opportunities for the students to work on planning and outputs from the field work. The students get out of this extensive fieldwork – experience in the learning process; achievement of learning goals in Bloom’s taxonomy; and gain employability skills that students can use in future employment: from CIEEM framework. Experience wise, students said: educational, fun, rewarding, challenging, inspiring, tiring. Despite these challenges, students want a leadership role despite the notion that it is stretching. In employability, there are significant skills that are especially coming through of team leaders, then to sub-leaders, and finally to participants with team leaders that are covering the full taxonomy in factual and conceptual knowledge (see image). Also in procedural knowledge and metacognitive knowledge, the leaders are showing better abilities. In technical and transferable skills, the leaders gain most. The Purbeck SERT ethos and link to citizen science is an effective tool and provide training but in a challenging way.

iSpot and distance learning Janice Ansine, Open University – The OU is focused on distance learning and focus on innovative learning technology. Citizen science is now integrated into STEM pedagogy – using it in research in geographic scale. Also for teaching – collaborative and informal learning, student projects, and infrastructure for collecting data. Also used in knowledge exchange and in outreach. In 1972 OU done work with Sulphur Dioxide (by Prof Steven Rose). Projects over the years: from Evolution Megalab to iSpot, nQuire and an open science lab. iSpot developed from OPAL in 2007, with a budget of about £2m, with an aim to create a species ID and biological recording and it combines a social interaction and a careful motivation framework. Learning is embedded in iSpot process – not only valid observation but to get into the identification and learn from it. They developed an iSpot learning wheel (which is included in the Citizen Inquiry book) which explore, identify, contribute, personalise, and recognition. Explore – you to learn by engagement with the site – 10 minutes of looking through observations. Identify – by doing that and discussing the identification, people learn. Contribute – help in the badges. Next, there is the personalisation where people integrate more and filter to the specific areas or taxa or project. Finally, recognition – it’s integrated into a range of OU teaching and course and modules or quizzes that are integrated into the site. As part of the course S295 – the biology of survival – which requires students to share information on iSpot and this was valued by an external examiner. It was also increased into a free open 8 weeks course – citizen science & global biodiversity as part of open learning which will include the application of iSpot. When the looked at observations – by the 50 observation, we can see successful observations.

Developing a research partnership between students and the community – Reflections on the Whitley Researchers Sally Lloyd-Evans, The University of Reading – Sally is doing research partnerships with communities in work that is done with Whitley researchers. Linked to justice issues. Working with a local community in Reading that explore co-production, with issues of mobility, social exclusion. Students working with a disadvantaged community and focus on families and place and using participatory research. Residents ask for help on the use of £1M from the Big Local to support their research. Students are trying to co-produce everything –  from ideas to reporting. Employing local residents on living wage to do research and it is working in teams of 15-20 and with 20 internships to students to engage. Methods that are used include photography, working with local schools, and working with young people and thinking about hopes, dreams, ambitions; belonging; and wellbeing. This includes the development of games and play. Students provide funding for 6 weeks for students to be involved in research – 2 or 3 students per year, also dissertation projects that are linked to community organisations (e.g. community gardens and wellbeing) and have included in as part of a research training module. The opportunities for students is to break down barriers between the university and the local community. Students get life skills, confidence and voice, getting higher quality research and undergrad are doing excellent efforts. There is a growing two-way mentoring and relationships and local residents. With 2-3 students, there is knowing each other more deeply and there is also trust and seeing linkage that supports better research. This is possible by working through internships but almost impossible in bigger groups of students. There are also barriers – it is difficult and challenging to organise and dealing with different agendas and universities are not set up to do it in terms of payment. There are issues about terminology and language to build relationships. IT is slow scholarship and sometimes can be labour intensive. Relationships can be easily damaged through wrong communication. Positionality of each actor. There is a danger of exploitation and changing subjectivities of participants, researchers. Involving local people in unpacking their own difficulties – and might criticise themselves. Researchers role are also complicated – researcher? activist? The more in-depth participatory work is better than the cohort in a module, as this doesn’t align well. From the student perspective – opening up the opportunity to encounter a different community that was not exposed to in the past. Because of the research work in Whitley is done with people who don’t have scope for volunteering, there was a decision to pay participants. Sometimes people volunteer due to issues with the benefits system. There is also a challenge with the definition of the research in the area participatory social science and the boundary with citizen science, and what the area of citizen social science encompasses.

The workshop ended with break out discussion groups to develop:
• Skills map on a ‘ladder of participation’, which contrasted the 4 classification from my levels of participation, with the current Bloom taxonomy to consider where are the learning opportunity at each type.

• Benefits/challenges of citizen science in UG education

• ‘Top tips’ for educators thinking of using this approach

Non-traditional data approaches and the Sustainable Development Goals workshop

The workshop took place in IIASA, which is located in Laxenburg in Austria. The workshop was hosted by the earth observation and citizen science group at IASSA. The workshop focus on the interface between citizen science, earth observation, and traditional data collection methods in the context of monitoring and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A contextual/perspective academic paper is an expected output of the workshop, so this post is only a summary of the opening presentations. There is also an overlap with the aim of the WeObserve project and the communities of practice in it.

The Earth Observation community geared up already to how it can contribute to the SDGs. EuroGEOSS workshop identified several SDGs where there can be a contribution of citizen science: No. 3 in wealth and wellbeing (e.g. greenspace in cities), No. 4 on quality of education, No. 5 in gender equality, No. 6 on water quality and flood management, No. 11 on sustainable cities – air quality, noise, empty houses, No. 14 – plastics, and No. 15 in species monitoring, disease, and finally on Global Partnership (No. 17).

DSCN3119Australian Citizen Science Association view – some awareness to SDGs and few projects that are linked to SDGs explicitly, though there is an issue of details. From the US CSA, the view is that there are projects that can be linked – water monitoring, CoCoRHaS, phenology, and eBird. Examples also include grassroots environmental monitoring, or the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. CitizenScience.Asia is a new network – in the context of China, people collect data to understand the environment, to collect evidence and protect rights, and for pure curiosity. The Blue-map used to report water pollution, it then goes to the government, and after being vetted it is shown, and some of it does not show. There are contributory DNA commercial project, but also “China Nature Watch” or Bauhinia Genome project that asks people to share information in Hong Kong. There are bottom-up projects, which include selling test kits for water which is used by people who share it on an online map – after 400-500 data points, the website was shut down by the government. There is also links to Public Lab – creating an automatic water monitor for flow. DSCN3122 Citizen Science Africa Association (CitSAF) – in Kenya the SDGs is getting attention (following the MDGs). NGOs activities are not synced with the government. Government pay attention to health, water, and education. CitSAF emerged from links to UNEP and focused on Kenya – air quality, some research on Malaria, and they can see interest in Nigeria, South Africa and other countries. CitSAF wants to increase the involvement and responsibility of citizens in African countries towards their natural and socio-cultural environment, especially in monitoring the SDGs. The SDG/CS Maximisation group which works across the citizen science associations (which Libby Hepburn coordinates) pointed out that the challenge is the bottom-up – from practitioners, and top-down from the UN and different countries. There is work on the credibility aspects of citizen science. There are is a need for facilitation between the CS community and the SDG community to progress things. The Citizen Science Global Partnership – launched in December 2017, as a network of networks to support citizen science activities. The global partnership has ideas and interest in working with the SDG but they are aspirational at the moment. They include – a platform for coordinating citizen science under the banner of SDG.

The Stockholm Environment Institute analysis of citizen science and SDGs: SEI has worked on environment/development over 30 years with many participatory activities, and worked explicitly on citizen science for the past 10 years. In the analysis they identified that citizen science can be used to refine and define goals; then monitoring; and even for achieving – e.g. in education, gender. The Citizen Science Centre in Zurich focuses on a platform – to allow projects, knowledge in the area, community of citizens and scientists, and projects. The open seventeen challenge is a good example for challenge-based workshops that help people to develop projects. There is an aim for developing an SDG citizen science toolkit. The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has created an inventory of citizen science activities and mapping them against the SDGs with results being published soon. In addition, there is an effort of a standard for citizen science data and metadata with links to COST Action effort. There is a potential for recording aspects of participants if that is appropriate in the metadata. There is a specific effort of developing guidelines for environmental reporting in a process that will allow it to be cross EU.

SDSN – Sustainable Development Solution Network set up by the UN for the implementation of the sustainable development, with 800 members of universities, and other groups. Within that, the TRENDS group focuses on data governance? How people can integrate data from new sources. 20 expert members and focus on strengthening the data ecosystem, improve learning and data sharing, developing policies, and inform investment. The work is framed around data governance and use. The POPGRID project is attempting to reconcile different sources of data to get good population estimates. Another UN effort is the UN-GGIM have done work on identifying geospatial sources that can be used in SDG with an analysis to understand the indicators at different tiers – the http://ggim.un.org/UNGGIM-wg6. There is an opportunity to understand which indicators information is considered relevant, and where are data gaps. The thinking about crowdsourced and citizen science data is how to find it how to have metadata, understanding comparability and good usability for an SDG indicator. The is an issue about the global spatial data infrastructure for citizen science and crowdsourced data. There is a need to budget for data management, metadata recording and sharing of information from crowdsourced projects. There is a call for good practises and lessons learnt about the SDG indicators in the sustainable development knowledge platform.

UN Environment pointed that the SDGs includes 244 indicators, and they were developed through the inter-agency and expert group on SDG indicators (IAEG-SDG). The custodian agency is developing a methodology, improving capacity, and getting and using the data. The three types of data include country submission of data, data that is complimented with international estimates, and some global data products. There is an effort to consider a mapping exercise and then think where it can be used. A way forward is to identify one indicator, and try to get it accepted – need to be Tier 3. So the opportunity for citizen science is in an indicator that needs to be tier 3, but without an internationally established methodology or standard.