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Vancouver, BC | Posted: January 25th, 2019
Sometimes known as crowd-sourced or community science, Citizen Science is a term that reflects public engagement in scientific research. Generally speaking, members of the public become actively involved in a cause, effort, or need alongside and/or under the direction of scientific researchers.
Public participation with citizen science projects tends to be non-specialist in design and is completed out of a sense of duty. Citizen scientists can be instrumental in expanding the project’s resource and awareness base. When projects are underfunded, under-told, or under time constraints, citizen scientists can play a significant role in helping fund, muscle, audit, and engage.
The term was coined, albeit independently, by both Rick Bonney (USA) and Alan Irwin (UK) in the 1990s. Bonney, an ornithologist, and Irwin, a Sociologist were unaware of each other’s efforts in the burgeoning concept. Bonney addressed a need in the birdwatching community for members of the public to play a role in producing scientific data. Irwin took a broader approach in advocating “concepts of scientific citizenship which foregrounds the necessity of opening up science and science policy processes to the public.”
As Citizen Science began to grow into other scientific disciplines, ethics and outcomes were questioned. As a response, a framework has been created. In 2015, the European Citizen Science Association delivered their 10 Principles of Citizen Science:
After surveying 388 Citizen Science projects, a research paper led by J. Theobold estimated that “between 1.36 million and 2.28 million people volunteer annually” and that “the range of in-kind contribution of the volunteerism in our 388 citizen science projects as between $667 million to $2.5 billion annually.
Today, Citizen Science projects are used most commonly found in the fields of:
- Archaeology and Art History
- Ocean Sciences
- Biology and Habitat and/or Wildlife Conservation
- Climate Mitigation and Adaption
- Modern Technology and the Internet
At GoVoluntouring, we’re proud to work with the following projects that use citizen scientists effectively.
Travel to Italy and take part in the restoration of ancient frescoes and artworks, while learning about centuries-old techniques and exploring Italian historic sites, culture, and cuisine.
Head to the Great White Shark capital of the world, Gansbaai, and join a program alongside marine biologists as they study South African marine life, including the often misunderstood Great White Shark!
Walk with and work with rescued Asian Elephants as they rehabilitate and are reintroduced to their natural habitats in Thailand’s Chiang Mai province.
Play an active part in the conservation of sea turtles in Greece as you take part in hands-on work aimed at the long-term preservation of turtle populations.
You can also read about Brooke Mitchell’s first-hand experience in Botswana with Citizen Science here. Mitchell details her time with technology in the field of data collection and wildlife conservation, as she sought to responsibly “contribute to ecotourism without any ecotourism management experience.”