FINAL Report of the COST training course held in Erice from the 26th November to the 1st December 2018
This document reports the structure and the main outputs of the training course “Where science meets society: citizen science as an emerging tool to expand research horizons” held in Erice (Italy) from the 26th November to the 1st December 2018.
An innovative solution was adopted to combine frontal lessons to work-in-group sessions, giving to the participants the opportunity to engage with the main issues related to citizen science from a theoretical as well as practical point of view. Their response, evaluated through two questionnaires, was encouraging, providing insights for the organization of further courses in this field.
Andrea Sforzi & Cristina Castracani
Purpose of the course
Over the past decades, there has been a rapid increase in the diversity and scale of Citizen Science (the involvement of volunteers in science). Initiatives range from crowd sourcing activities, in which the time and effort of large numbers of people help to solve a problem or analyse a large dataset, to small groups of volunteers, collecting and analysing environmental data and sharing their findings. When correctly planned and executed, Citizen Science can increase scientific knowledge and raise people’s awareness of their environment. It can be beneficial to both people and researchers. The main purpose of the course was to provide insights of specific cases/projects/experiences, with the aim of giving to the participants the opportunity to investigate best practices and lessons learned in a very dynamic and promising field.
The COST Action – 15212: To promote creativity, scientific literacy, and innovation throughout Europe gave the opportunity to activate a collaboration with two working groups that cover the main topics of the course:
Working group 1: Ensure scientific quality of Citizen Science
This working group focuses on the outcomes of CS projects for scientists. The main objective is to provide a sound understanding of current practices involving the collection, description, and validation of data gathered and analysed by citizens.
Working group 4: Enhance the role of CS for civil society
This working group focuses on issues that are relevant to the volunteers in citizen science. The objectives of this working group are to raise awareness of the volunteers’ aims, needs and requirements from citizen science and the results that citizen science contributions have in their lives, as well as the implications for developing social innovation interventions. In particular, the school focused on Task 2: Review practices of participation in CS involving volunteers.
Trainers (to read in the report)
Structure of the course (to read in the report)
Venue (to read in the report)
Programme (to read in the report)
Trainees (to read in the report)
Knowledge in the field of citizen science, personal background and participant’s expectations were evaluated though a simple entry module, filled in before the start of the training course. At the end of the last day, attendees were asked to fill in a final module, to evaluate their satisfaction and to gather comments and suggestions. The main results are synthetized below.
Entry module (to read in the report)
Final module (to read in the report)
The course was a sort of “first trial” to provide training in the field of citizen science through a four full days module. Among the main remarkable aspects to be cited is the process that was followed by the Directors to ensure a balance between frontal lessons and work-in-group sessions, giving to the participants the opportunity to engage with the main issues related to citizen science from a theoretical, as well as practical point of view. As far as we know, other experiences made in this field were mainly daily courses (Rick Bonney, pers. comm.), with a quite different approach. The hosting institution (a scientific center devoted to promote courses in a large variety of scientific fields) and the location (a small, beautiful, isolated medieval village) helped attendees to create the right mood for connections. Their response, evaluated through two questionnaires, was encouraging. Living in strict contact for some days stimulated exchange of ideas and experiences among them and with the teachers. On the other side, teachers challenged themselves to find original ways to engage attendees and provide them with original and interesting activities. There were several lessons learnt, that will be elaborated further and will constitute the basis for a shared paper to be published with the collaboration of all the actors involved in this experience.
Grosseto (Italy), 6th August 2019
and also as a blog entry from a participant here.