“How to Use Actor Network Theory to Research Human and Non-Human Actors in Citizen
Science-Driven Interventions”

Rina Vijayasundaram

This presentation focuses on using Actor Network Theory to study citizen science-driven interventions in the City of Aarhus, Denmark. I wish to discuss how Actor Network Theory can be used to study how the city works with both human and non-human actors when trying to solve environmental problems with citizen science within a smart city ecosystem.
First, I explain the findings from the study of Aarhus’ two interventions in the Horizon 2020 EU project DivAirCity. Studies have shown that air quality is the worst for the more diverse groups in the city, as they often live closer together due to their economic situation. The project seeks to improve environmental, health and social conditions in cities by prioritising participation of the groups deemed most at risk. The two interventions in Aarhus are focused on 1) creating an alternative route with better air quality for wheelchair users, and 2) making a green screen and pocket park with better air quality together with locals. I will also briefly explain the ethnographic methods used for my case
study, such as interviews and participatory observations (Tracy, 2013; Charmaz, 2007).
My current case study has two aims: 1) to understand how the citizens are being involved in the smart city ecosystem of Aarhus, and 2) how this work to empower citizens to help design and carry out citizen science-driven research has also given the air itself agency. I wish to discuss how, when the city works with citizen science to solve an environmental problem, the environment also gets an opportunity to gain agency. I will speak about translation (Callon, 1986) in regard to both the wheelchair users and the air, and what the involvement of both citizens and nature means for this specific citizen science project and its goals and outcomes.
The study is still on-going, and so my presentation will focus on the findings so far and open up for discussions on the opportunities and limitations that Actor Network Theory analysis may have when being used to study a citizen science case.

Citizen Science, Invasive Species, and Collaborative Discoveries

Yaela N Golumbic

Over the past decade, the field of citizen science has experienced significant growth as a tool to advance scientific research alongside public engagement, fostering dialogue between citizens and scientists. Within the realm, one of the most widespread domains of research is biodiversity monitoring, particularly the identification of invasive species. While such research holds significant importance for early detection and environmental management, many scientists express reservations about the reliability of citizen science data and encounter challenges in effectively engaging with the public.

This study tracks the discovery of three invasive species facilitated by the involvement of citizen scientists. The study has two main objectives: (a) to examine various methods of public engagement in research and the advantages and disadvantages of each method for science, society, and participants; and (b) to examine the perceptions and practices of scientists who were involved in the discoveries, regarding citizen science and public engagement in science. The presentation will present findings from interviews with scientists involved in invasive species discoveries and analyze data from citizen science reporting platforms.

This study highlights the importance of citizen science projects for both science and society and at the same time the existing tension between citizen science’s contribution to science and its contribution to society. It raises the challenges in implementing citizen science in practice, discusses the role of technology, and offers a way to actively encourage public participation by changing the way scientific knowledge is created and making it relevant, transparent and accessible to the general public.

“Allies of expertise: how citizens defend the epistemic authority of science”

Katharina Berr

Citizens contribute to science. In academic discourse and science policy programs, there is a general consensus that lay engagement is a prerequisite for fostering closer relations between science and society (Davies & Horst, 2016). However, in their efforts to evaluate and enable citizens’ role in science, institutional actors tend to build on paradoxical and idealized views of both lay engagement and science itself. As critical scholars point out: laypeople are to do both, actively participate in a democratized science but also put their trust in the authority of scientific experts (Weingart et al., 2021). Moreover, lay engagement is often imagined as a merely rational endeavor that ought to result in more rational debate and decision-making (Chilvers & Kearnes, 2020). In reality, citizens engage with science in different ways and for different
reasons; and not always in accordance with the expectations of academic discourse or science policy programs (Horst & Michael, 2011; Mendel & Riesch, 2017; Panofsky & Donovan, 2019).
This study draws on a two-year digital ethnography of an online community of science fans who organized in the context of Covid-19 and with the goal of disseminating and defending (what they regard as) scientific expertise against (what they regard as) anti-science phenomena. Based on this empirical case, I conceptualize an overlooked role of citizens contributing to science: allies of expertise. Different to citizen scientists (neither in the sense of Bonney et al.,
2009, nor of Irwin, 1995) or lay experts (Epstein, 2023), these allies do not claim insight or stakes in scientific work. Instead, they aim to contribute by bolstering the epistemic authority of science, which they perceive as threatened and in need of support. It is important to better understand their motivations and practices, since they somewhat contradict previous academic and policy interventions to democratize science.
At the moment, I am working on ideas on how to “give back” to the community I observed. I would like to to present and discuss the concept of “allies of
expertise”, but also reflect on ways in which insights from STS research and citizen science practice could benefit citizens when engaging in this role.

Citizen science and post-normal science: mapping how participation disrupt decision making

Muki Haklay

See paper: Mordechai Haklay, Ariane König, Fabien Moustard, Nicolle Aspee, Citizen science and Post-Normal Science’s extended peer community: Identifying overlaps by mapping typologies, Futures,
Volume 150, 2023, 103178, ISSN 0016-3287, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2023.103178.

“Beyond Boundaries: Citizen Science, Making, and the Challenge of Institutionalization”

Dana Mahr

This presentation explores the complex processes of institutionalization and professionalization within the realm of citizen science, emphasizing its impact on the definition, boundaries, and inclusivity of participatory research. The institutionalization of citizen science involves the creation of formal structures such as departments, research centers, and academic programs, often guided by top-down categorizations and taxonomies. 

Examining participatory research in the context of citizen science, the presentation scrutinizes attempts to define boundaries and categorize different forms of participation. It discusses the typologies used, such as Rick Bonney’s distinction between “contributory” and “collaborative” projects, and Andrea Wiggins and Kevin Crowstone’s five forms of participatory research. The hierarchical nature of these categorizations is highlighted, often favoring projects initiated by professionals and originating from a genuine academic perspective.

The talk also delves into the realm of maker spaces, such as BioCurious, Genspace, and La Paillasse, where the “hacker ethos” guides hands-on knowledge production. These spaces, focusing on DIYbio and biohacking, operate outside traditional institutionalized structures, often excluded from mainstream definitions of citizen science. The exploration of nanotechnology exemplifies the divergence in interests between institutionalized citizen science and the maker sphere.

The presentation argues that the institutionalization of citizen science, driven by predetermined academic constraints, risks stifling innovation and limiting the diversity of epistemic practices. While acknowledging the need for quality standards, the talk emphasizes the importance of retaining a broader understanding of citizen science, incorporating local, bottom-up practices, and recognizing the value of diverse knowledge production beyond institutional boundaries. It calls for critical monitoring of the institutionalization of citizen sciences to ensure the preservation of innovative perspectives that challenge and transcend established norms.

“Science and technology studies on critical data analysis and – literacy by and with Citizens in Citizen Sciences – Disapproved (Data) Sciences?”

Sophia Segler & Julia Gantenberg

Referring to Alan Irwin’s (1995) holistic citizen science approach, in this colloquium we want to address questions about the implementation and role of citizen science in the analysis of data of scientifically collected primary data, especially such as data generated by laypersons by means of “crowdsourcing” (Salganik 2018), as well as secondary data sets. In the course of the digital revolution and datafication, we can observe that many citizen science projects, in particular in the field of environmental (citizen) science, involve citizens in the data collection process, which is then often analyzed by expert scientists themselves in the “black box” of data processing (Franzen et al. 2021: 192) and its interpretation. Often, the results and findings from one or more data sources are only made (re)available to a public audience after the data has been analyzed exclusively by expert scientists, not necessarily by or with citizen scientists. In particular, the power of the digital revolution makes it more accessible to use
crowdsourcing methods to collect data for science and thus to access field data that would not be producible for scientists using conventional methods without an approach of crowdsourcing.
However, this raises the core issue of defining the membranes of citizens, science and citizen science, which is a topic of recurrent discussion in Science and Technology Studies (STS) and citizen science, but less so with regard to its definition in the field of co-interpretation of data and related data processing and literacy skills. Therefore, we want to focus on the research step of data analysis in STS and citizen science and launch a discussion about the arenas in which data analysis by or with citizens is already good practice and where it is not? How are arenas for data analysis with or by citizens designed and when do these domains remain restricted? How can good practices of citizen science be applied in data analysis to enable critical data analysis of quality, co- interpreted by and with citizen scientists? How does quantitative data differ from qualitative data in this regard? What is the main difference in data analysis with or by citizen scientists compared to professional science?
In order to achieve a deeper understanding of these important debates and to discuss arenas of STS on data analysis and literacy skills by and with citizen scientists together, we would first like to provide an overview of the field of applied citizen science in data analysis. In a second step, we will present first conclusions of STS research on co-interpreting data by and with citizen scientists to approach the questions raised above and finally, based on a collegial discussion, identify open STS research on this basis.