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Summer 2011

Newsletter Archive


Citizen Science

article image Addressing today's environmental problems requires the development of new approaches where citizens, researchers and decision makers work together to address issues of significance. Recent critiques of science's ability to provide information in a timely fashion, and of a quality to address increasingly complex environmental issues, emphasizes the importance of alternative approaches to creating knowledge and sharing it. Making science-based information and the methods used to collect data more accessible and fluid - requires an exploration of new approaches to bring citizens into research, or citizen science.

Citizen science is rooted in the concept of experiential learning and the recognized need for increased public participation in local issues. There are many perceived benefits to involving citizens in knowledge production: promoting awareness of local environmental issues, building community capacity to enhance public involvement in stewardship, fostering an environment for a stronger public role in decision making, and the generation of data collected at a lower cost than conventional science.

The Miistakis Institute has established a community based research (CBR) framework to address various environmental issues in the region. Community based research (CBR) is a collaborative process with the purpose of creating an environment for learning and social change while fostering citizen participation. The CBR process aims to create a community of learners with the ability to develop flexible adaptable solutions to their problems. These citizen science based initiatives are an innovative framework for connecting researchers, citizen volunteers and decisions makers through a CBR project to address issues of local concern.

A number of current Miistakis projects focus on engaging community members to increase understanding about wildlife through citizen science programs. Miistakis has created interactive web-based mapping tools that enable participants to enter their observations and experiences with wildlife in order to complement existing conventional data. We also have developed outreach and education programming to ensure that citizen science programs are effective. Currently, we have a number of citizen science programs: Road Watch in the Pass, Living with Coyotes, Wolverine Watch and Cowboys and Carnivores.