MOOC Transformative Citizen Science for Sustainability

Go beyond citizen-gathered data. Learn to design projects that actively mobilise citizens, policy makers and scientists to improve human and ecological wellbeing. In this advanced course, world leading experts from Wageningen University & Research share key principles and practices for Transformative Citizen Science for Sustainability. Join us and develop your own ideas about citizen science.

Organised by Wageningen University & Research
Duration 10 weeks, 3 - 5 hours per week

Why follow this course?

Citizens & scientists join forces

Citizen science has become an essential approach to address urgent sustainability challenges. It is critical that science and society work together. Science becomes more relevant as scientists and citizens upscale data collection, co-create knowledge and collectively act on outcomes.

Transformative citizen science goes a step further. It is not just about knowing and 'doing things better' but also about 'doing better things' all together..

For example, the BigO project 'Big data against childhood Obesity' massively increased data collection. Reaching out to over twenty thousand children from different countries. Together, they contributed over 107.000 pictures and other data on the impact of lifestyle and living conditions on health and well-being. It led to more awareness of schools on promotion of healthy behaviours across different income groups, and sparked changes on public health policy.

In this course you will explore several such successful examples of citizen science, including projects on:

  • water and air quality
  • diseases
  • climate change
  • the loss of green spaces and biodiversity

Transforming society together

Well-designed citizen science enables citizens to collect, interpret and share data. Transformative citizen science goes a step further. It allows citizens to contribute to change on issues that matter to them. It is a process that challenges our assumptions and values, to co-create innovative solutions that can tackle sustainability challenges. It is not just about knowing and 'doing things better' but also about 'doing better things' all together.

Your project and WUR's Citizen Science Hub

Citizen science can be used in a range of contexts, involving multiple stakeholders representing the world of civic society, governance and education. In this course you will develop a deep understanding of CS, the diverse ways of using it in practice, and the principles that make it work.

As course participant you gain access to a community of practice established by the Wageningen University & Research’s Citizen Science Hub, in which practitioners engage and support the development of new projects from across the globe.

Having this expertise will help you in gaining a position in governmental and non-governmental organisations as well as in institutions of higher education who are exploring ways to develop and utilize CS in an ambition to contribute to the transformation of the society at large. In other words, organisations and institutions that go beyond self-gain, with an intrinsic drive to help communities in becoming more sustainable, including the well-being of the collective and the planet.

Is this course for you?

Are you:

  • a policy maker interested in developing broadly supported and informed solutions to sustainability issues?
  • a concerned citizen or professional working in an NGO or activist organization wishing to support citizens in working towards healthier, greener and more sustainable communities?
  • or an academic wishing to have more societal impact with your research by working more closely with citizens?

This course will help you take the next steps in making citizen science work for you. Enrol now.

What you will learn

In this course you will have the ability to:
1. Develop a plan for initiating and sustaining a citizen science project, including strategies and skills for communication, data collection and management, and ethics.

2. Gain insight in the advantages of different types of citizen science projects, ranging from science-oriented to action-oriented, and the challenges of balancing citizen participation and scientific rigour.

3. Understand trade-offs in engaging citizens in each project phase from goal formulation to project evaluation. Practical examples and tools are given for data collection and storage, and communicating for impact.

The course is composed of theoretical and practical assignments that will enable you to:

  • Understand the basic characteristics of Citizen Science
  • Identify the strategic decisions of a citizen science project and activities for citizen involvement.
  • Identify requirements and methods for data monitoring, storing, sharing, analysis, interpretation.
  • Assess and communicate the process, outcomes and impact of a citizen science project.

Practical assignments:
Course staff and peers will give you feedback on your own project plan. This will help you master the iterative design-implementation cycle of goal-design-collect-evaluate. You will learn to:

  • Determine your sustainability challenge as a citizen science opportunity.
  • Develop a strategy for your Transformative Citizen Science Project.
  • Plan the data monitoring, storing, sharing, analysis, interpretation of your project.
  • Assess and communicate the process, outcomes and impact of your project.