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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.

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Transformative Citizen Science for Sustainability

There is one session available:

14 already enrolled!
After a course session ends, it will be archivedOpens in a new tab.
Starts Oct 18
Ends Dec 27

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.

Transformative Citizen Science for Sustainability
10 weeks
3–5 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule
Free
Optional upgrade available

There is one session available:

After a course session ends, it will be archivedOpens in a new tab.
Starts Oct 18
Ends Dec 27

About this course

Skip About this 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).

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.

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.

At a glance

  • Institution: WageningenX
  • Subject: Science
  • Level: Advanced
  • Prerequisites:
    • MSc-level thinking and research skills
    • BSc level certificate with experience in public or academic research or consultancy in an interdisciplinary field, or having followed an introductory course on academic research methods
    • Academic or professional experience with citizen engagement
  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

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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 them 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 assignments and the designing of your own project 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.

MODULE 1: Citizen Science Basics

Increasingly, non-scientists are contributing to the scientific process in a myriad of citizen science initiatives worldwide. Given the urgency of the sustainability challenges of our time, opening up the scientific process to non-scientists is a powerful way to address these wicked problems. Learn the basic definitions and terms to understand different citizen science practices. Understand the principles of good citizen science, and identify key stakeholders and required resources necessary to initiate a citizen science project.

MODULE 2: Project strategy and design

This module will help you to decide on your project strategy and design. Given the citizen science objective, you learn how to define the appropriate level of involvement of scientists, policy makers and other stakeholders in different phases of the CS project, and find a gamut of possible communication tools. Then we zoom in on the data collection. What kind of monitoring activities do you want your volunteers to do? How to recruit and instruct your volunteers? How to activate and keep them engaged with the project? And finally, some ethical dilemmas around working with volunteers are discussed.

MODULE 3: Methods and tools

In this module, you will learn about the technical part of citizen science. The requirements for platforms and methods for collecting good quality data. It helps you to oversee the data flow and specific expertise that you may need to handle the data streams. Lastly, it helps you to identify data privacy issues. This module will be illustrated by many examples from existing citizen science projects.

MODULE 4: Communication and Impact

In this module we focus on practice linked to the envisaged impact. How to mobilize knowledge and expertise from citizen volunteers, engage them in action but also ensure their needs are met? How to connect with policy makers and their political agenda? And what about mass - and social media, informing the wider public to put issues on the societal agenda or create trust and political support? What is the right content, language, format and timing of your message? We reflect on ethical issues involved and help you to structure your CS monitoring and evaluation.

Transversely to the theoretical modules 1, 2, 3 and 4 this course also contemplates the practical application of the acquired knowledge in a continued practical module called Transformative Citizen Science Project. In this continued module you will have the opportunity to choose a sustainable challenge of your interest and context to practice the tools and skills acquired throughout the course to create and implement a citizen science project.

About the instructors

Frequently Asked Questions

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Do you have questions about the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and/or related online programmes of Wageningen University & Research? To help you find answers to your questions, we created a list with frequently asked questions about enrolling, participating in- and finishing a MOOC.

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