Citizen science – in researching biodiversity

Citizen science – in researching biodiversity


Our world is changing rapidly and one of the
new and challenging things is knowledge co-creation in the form of citizen science. So, what is it? It’s an approach that’s been researched only
recently in detail. We usually think it’s about ordinary people
helping scientists gather data, but it can be much more than this. Its goal is to generate new and legitimate
knowledge, and to devise new approaches and methods while empowering citizens. So how can it be used in researching biodiversity? Citizens’ involvement in science happens on
different levels. At crowdsourcing, citizens act as simple sensors. Higher up, they become distributed intelligence,
now interpreting data as well. In participatory science, they also assist
in defining the problem. And finally, in extreme citizen science, they
collaborate in all the steps of research. There are many advantages to this approach,
and professional scientists can learn a great deal. They can improve their knowledge and comprehension
by analyzing the large data sets and the unique qualitative data collected by citizens. They can also arrive at new insights into
how to mix different methods in resolving conflicts, or understanding perspectives that
don’t understand theirs. They may learn that citizens are holders of
specific, useful knowledge, and this may open up other venues for investigation. And inevitably, scientists will improve their
skills for collaboration and participation. All this may result in the better visibility
and acceptability of science in the policy field. It can change research into a transparent,
open, and socially inspiring endeavor. However, let’s see the big picture. Citizen science benefits citizens as well. They can increase their ecological literacy,
hone their observation skills, or learn to use instruments. They are also likely to understand the nature
of scientific work. But it doesn’t stop here: it may also influence
society as a whole by contributing to its transformative learning. What is transformative learning? It’s a deep, structural shift in awareness
that changes how we view our interconnectedness among the natural environment and the human
community. However, the precise nature of this is still
unexplored. We need to understand it in an interdisciplinary
way or the greatest promises of citizen science will stay unlocked; we may never see that
it can foster a general democratization of knowledge and learning, thus contributing
to better science-society-policy interactions, potentially advancing a wider well-being for
all mankind.

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