The European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) was set up to encourage the growth of citizen science in Europe, and to support the participation of the general public in research processes – across science, social science, humanities and the arts.
ECSA is a membership association that brings together researchers, practitioners and citizens who want to increase the democratization of knowledge production. We are open to both individual and organizational members; currently, our hundreds of members come from countries across the European Union and beyond.
ECSA supports its members by coordinating citizen science projects, performing research on citizen science, and exchanging experiences and capacity-building. Most of our activities are led by members, and often organized through our thematic working groups. These working groups rely on volunteers, who commit their time and expertise to our activities.
In addition to these activities, ECSA engages in research and coordination projects, and acts as a communications hub for citizen science in Europe. These tasks are led by the ECSA team, which has its headquarters in Berlin, generously provided by the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. We also have satellite offices in Brussels and Leiden.
Citizen science is an ‘umbrella’ term that describes a variety of ways in which the public participate in science. The main characteristics are that: (1) citizens are actively involved in research, in partnership or collaboration with scientists or professionals; and (2) there is a genuine outcome, such as new scientific knowledge, conservation action or policy change. Our members developed ‘10 principles of citizen science’, which are available in a number of languages. More recently, the citizen science community, including ECSA members, developed the ‘Characteristics of citizen science’.
Citizen science takes place in diverse fields, including ecology, astronomy, medicine, computer science, history – and many more. And citizen science can happen at a range of different scales – from local projects to continental and global scales, and from short projects to those that occur over decades!