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Citizen Science Politics and Practices I

Fri, September 1, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Sheraton Boston, Floor: 3, Beacon H

Session Submission Type: Traditional (Closed) Panel


The term “citizen science” has a plurality of meanings: from various forms of public participation in science, crowdsourced science, community actions for regulating risks, and grassroots hacking. The roles of citizens in these initiatives vary: they may act as scientists’ sensors, trained to collect and analyze data; they may challenge regulatory standards, collect and analyze data — sometimes with the tools they design — in order to set their own agenda. The relationships between lay participants and professional in these initiatives range from tamed/collaborative to radical/competitive. The intended outputs of these projects also differ — from scientific publications, monitoring systems, new devices, identifying and removing hazards, to policy changes. Despite the ambiguity, the term “citizen science” has gained popularity in public policies and grant awarding opportunities, although often only for those on the "tamed" side of the spectrum. Exactly what citizen science can bring or is expected to deliver cannot be answered without resolving such ambiguity. This panel invites STS scholars, historians of science and techno-legal researchers to propose case studies and theoretical contributions exploring the boundaries of citizen science, as well as its techno-scientific and public policy impact for community-building, civic participation, the development of commons, and the production of knowledge.

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