Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM
CITIZEN SCIENCE AND THE MANAGEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTS: A NEW APPROACH
We describe a new approach to Citizen Science. For our purpose, Citizen Science represents an engagement from members of the public, usually volunteers, in collaboration with credentialed technical experts to observe and understand natural resources and environments for the benefit of science and society. Our approach seeks a much greater level of engagement, not only from volunteers but also from paid professionals, than is present in current Citizen Science efforts. The approach provides new opportunities for the lay public but also solicits community and policy interactions by scientific experts and stakeholders. The characteristics of individual engagement are described by a modern version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and are documented in current Citizen Science efforts. On the science side, observations and monitoring provide a foundation that supports critical analysis (process research) and that builds up to information syntheses (e.g. spatial & temporal assessments). As citizens (and experts) move up this pyramid of science needs, the potential exists for more intense engagement and participation. At the same time, there are increased challenges associated with educational and information needs. Knowledge generation is often accompanied by individual and community biases, involving both experts and the lay public. A diversity of perspectives from volunteers, stakeholders and experts can help counter these biases. Other benefits include scientific and educational benefits and the use of Citizen Science as a social force. The approach depends on recognition by communities and organizations of the need for long-term multidisciplinary science in support of an improved management of natural resources and environments. It also depends on recognition of individual human needs. We examine our approach in the context of Garrett Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons”. We seek insights from indigenous societies and from the perspective of geochemical modelers and other experts. We do not prescribe how our approach might be implemented, but we postulate that any progress towards implementation will bring substantial benefits. Our approach empowers and encourages individuals to participate in active learning and to transcend their own immediate and local needs for the benefit of a larger community.