MOOC Transformative Citizen Science for Sustainability

Transformative Citizen Science (TCS) addresses global sustainability challenges locally by actively engaging citizens in their resolution using different forms of research. This course is hosted by Wageningen University & Research, one of the most experienced universities in the world in both sustainability science and the design of MOOCs. You will learn about key principles and practices of TCS.

Organised by Wageningen University & Research
Duration 10 weeks
Certificate Limited course materials for free, full package (including exam and verified certificate)
Format Online
Credits Certificate
Group size >80

Content of the course

Citizens & scientists join forces

To address urgent sustainability challenges, it is critical that science and society work together. Only when citizens understand the potential impact of science can they take full advantage of it. In this MOOC you will learn how Citizen science can be a powerful way to connect science and society. It enables  citizens to collect, interpret, share, and mobilise data in relation to issues that matter to them.

Transformative Citizen Science (TCS) adds to the collective desire to change unhealthy patterns and systems that invite unsustainability. It uses science to create alternatives that invite more sustainable ways of living. Typically, TCS connects with issues citizens themselves are affected by in their own local environment, such as:

  • The quality of the air they breathe
  • The noise coming from the local road,
  • The loss of green spaces
  • The quality of the local stream
  • The prevalence of lime disease
  • The impact of eating behaviours on health and well-being

Transforming society together

Citizen science can be used in a range of contexts, involving multiple stakeholders representing the world of civic society, governance and education. It can answer questions posed by academics to expand scientific knowledge and have impact (transformative).

  • by policymakers to inform decisions and actively engage citizens in current policy issues;
  • by communities to collect evidence that can lead to action in addressing local problems;
  • (or by individuals or groups who share a passion and want to obtain a deeper understanding of a certain topic).

For whom

This course will be of interest to a wide range of people. Are you an (under)graduate student in sustainability and health-oriented sciences or a professional working in (local) policy and governance seeking to actively engage citizens in health and sustainability issues? Or a scientist and wanting to have more societal impact with your research by working more closely with citizens? Or someone working in NGO’s and activist organizations and you want to support citizens in working towards healthier, greener and more sustainable communities.

With this MOOC you will develop a deep understanding of citizen science, the diverse ways of using it in practice, and the key design principles that make it work.

What you'll learn

You will have the ability to develop a plan for initiating an CS project, including strategies and skills for communication, data collection and management, and ethics. 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 citizen science. If you are already involved in a CS project, you will be able to work on improving the quality of your project design and get feedback from global peers and academic staff.

The MOOC is composed of theoretical and practical assignments that will enable the learner to: 

Theoretical assignments

  • 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.

Designing your own project:

In addition, you will get an opportunity to design your own transformative citizen science project which will allow you to apply your learning from all four modules. 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.

Meet the instructor(s)