PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS


Exploring PPSR Under Western Skies Conference

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In recent years there has been a renewed interest in citizen engagement and today there is a proliferation of research projects that engage citizens to address a diversity of environmental, health and social justice challenges. The explosion of research involving the public is due to: 1) new emerging technology making communication, data collection and dissemination of information more fluid and accessible, 2) appreciation of the benefits of engaging the public in science and their potential role as concerned informed citizens and 3) the realization that the public can be a large source of experienced, free labour and in certain cases a financial contributor. There are many areas where discussion and shared learning among practitioners are important for shaping the future practices of research projects designed with citizen involvement. Although there is rapid growth of public participation in scientific research (PPSR), the sharing of insights between projects and across the field is limited. Additionally, opportunities for engaging PPSR practitioners from different disciplines in Canada have been limited.

The goal of Exploring PPSR Under Western Skies was to: stimulate communication, collaboration and innovation in the field of PPSR in western Canada. The objectives of the conference were as follows:
1) Highlight state of the art of PPSR, including: a) Provide overview of the PPSR landscape and b) Share PPSR learnings with a focus on program design and data management;
2) Create best practices for citizen science engagement: a) Explore evaluation as a means to expand PPSR; b) Explore role of transformative learning and civic science literacy in PPSR; c) Explore role of Geomatics and Technological Innovation in PPSR and d) Investigate the potential of PPSR in parks and protected areas; and
3) Create a network of western Canadian PPSR practitioners.

The conference was held on Sept. 9 & 10, 2014 at Mount Royal University in partnership with The Under Western Skies 2014 conference. Seventy citizen science researchers and practitioners from across North American attended the conference. The conference was generously supported by: The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Cenovus Energy, Mount Royal University's Institute for Environmental Sustainability, Parks for Tomorrow Legacy Fund, Under Western Skies, The City of Calgary Parks, Alberta Parks, and Forage.

A conference website with presentations, videos and more information will be created soon. Please visit http://www.rockies.ca/citizenscience for updates.

Conference proceedings: http://www.rockies.ca/project_info/Exploring_PPSR_Under_Western_Skies_Proceedings.pdf

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