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Making citizen science more participatory, inclusive and citizen-led

How do you make citizen science more inclusive and rigorous? What common challenges do citizen science projects share? A short ACTION workshop report.

Ideas from the ACTION Accelerator workshop at IGB, 17-19 February 2020. | Photo: Kat Austen/IGB

The ACTION Accelerator team – led by IGB’s Kat Austen – works with on-the-ground citizen science projects that address pollution as part of the ACTION project. In February, eleven citizen science projects joined us at IGB on the banks of Lake Müggelsee, for a workshop making citizen science more participatory, more inclusive and more citizen-led.

The Accelerator Kick-Off meeting welcomed the six incoming pilot projects, who will work with the Accelerator team over a six month period, alongside the already existing action pilot projects.

Orsola de Marco from London’s Open Data Institute, helped the teams hone their project design using methods adapted from business design. Introducing the topic of power relations and accessibility in citizen science, Kathryn Nawrockyi from Improper explained the challenges of including diverse stakeholders from the outset, which can affect data collection, results, and impacts of projects. The barriers to entry for projects were further explored in a workshop by Kat Austen, facilitated by ACTION partner DRIFT’s Annelli Janssen.

The workshop allowed projects to identify previously neglected stakeholders, such as the polluters themselves – mining companies, shipping companies and dock workers – alongside more expected cohorts such as those with a lower level of education, or those without access to technology. On this basis, the projects developed new strategies for reaching out to include more diverse stakeholders on a case by case basis.

The projects explored how to keep a community engaged, best practice in decision-making in citizen science projects, open data, data management and impact. All workshop sessions will feed into the ACTION toolkit, which will be developed over the course of the 3 year project through co-design with the ACTION citizen science projects.


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