Call for papers: Participatory Science: understanding what motivates and sustains participation in science

CFP:RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, 28-30 August 2013

Participatory Science: understanding what motivates and sustains participation in science

Convened by Dr Hilary Geoghegan (UCL Geography), Professor Muki Haklay (UCLCivil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering) and Louise Francis (UCL/ Mapping for Change

Sponsored by HGRG, SCGRG, PyGyRG and GIScRG in association with the Science Museum (London) and UCL’s Extreme Citizen Science Research Group (ExCiteS)

Addressing the conference theme of ‘new geographical frontiers’, this is one of three RGS-IBG sessions, all dedicated to participatory science, to be held at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre:  a space for connecting contemporary science, technology and culture.

In recent years, citizen science has gained recognition as a new frontier for knowledge creation and geographic understanding. Citizen science can be defined as the participation of non-professional scientists in scientific knowledge production, and can be seen as part of both a long tradition of amateur, volunteer and enthusiast participation in science and a wider phenomenon of new participative forms of knowledge creation facilitated by information and communication technology, as well as societal changes. This trend is also influencing popular encounters with scientific outputs, namely museum exhibitions. For geographers and other professional researchers, the inclusion of many more participants in the process of scientific knowledge creation is opening up new places and experiences that could not be captured before due to limits in time, financial resources and geographical coverage. At the same time, these emerging forms of participatory and inclusionary science require adjustments to the relationships between researchers and the public.

This session seeks to explore and debate current research and practice surrounding ‘participatory science’, namely the associated motivations, materials and meanings of participating in science. By adopting a broad understanding of ‘science’ as any instances where the public might contribute to research, for example arts initiatives, historical research, social mapping and more traditional citizen science programmes, we welcome papers that explore (but are not limited to) the following themes:

  • what motivates and sustains individual and/or collective participation in ‘citizen science’
  • socio-personal meanings of participation
  • emotional drivers of participation in science
  • politics of participation
  • ways in which motivation to participate in science increases and/or decreases across time and space, e.g. age-related participation, geographic location, access to resources
  • ways in which citizens have chosen to participate historically
  • stakes at play in participation as enjoyable leisure pursuit (e.g. RSPB Big Garden BirdWatch <> ; Old Weather <> ), community-defined projects (e.g. noise mapping in London <> ) and life and death data collection (e.g. disaster mapping in Japan following nuclear accident <> )
  • how technologies, gizmos and mapping devices alter levels of participation
  • ways to enhance participation in ‘science’, enabling access, online collaboration and interdisciplinary communication

Please send all abstracts (max. 250 words including title, name, contact details, abstract) and/or questions regarding the session to Hilary Geoghegan by Tuesday, 5th February 2013.