Some highlights from the DITOs project
– by Claudia Göbel
The Doing-it-Together science project (DITOs) has been a milestone in the development of ECSA. It was the first EU-funded project to significantly enhance the capacities of the organization by multiplying staff and also giving us some money to do knowledge sharing activities. After three years, we have now successfully concluded the project. Many new initiatives, most prominently the EU-citizen.science Coordination and Support Action along with other EU and national projects, follow in its footsteps. A good moment to share some highlights of our work in DITOs.
Putting CS on the radar of decision makers
One of DITOs main aims was to make Citizen Science more known, strengthen networks between existing practitioner communities and anchor CS more firmly in political agendas. This “policy engagement” work focused on the areas of science policy and environmental policy. It consisted in reaching out to decisions makers with the capacity change how CS and DIY science are seen and supported across the EU to provide information and opportunities for interaction.
- Pioneering our work in this area – my policy engagement highlights are summarized in this presentation.
Starting to make ECSA a more open organization
Doing Citizen Science and other forms of participatory research requires profound cultural changes in how we work both inside our organisations and with external partners. To stimulate such developments in an authentic manner, ECSA should act as a role model of an open organization and increase transparency, inclusiveness and diversity. To put this into practice, we’ve used DITOs to build and test ideas for what to do better. Three significant results of this work are:
- Practical guidelines for ECSA working groups to make their work more visible, open for contributions, ready for reuse and hopefully also a bit more fun. We’ve just published an initial version of the guidelines and are now looking forward to enrich this open document with experiences from others. This work is based on learnings and a lot of material from participating in the Mozilla Open Leaders programme with building infrastructure for the working group on empowerment, inclusiveness and equity.
- A honorarium for active participation in ECSA knowledge sharing and capacity building events. With this we want to support the participation of members of underrepresented groups and thus make sure that perspectives of citizen scientists, civil society organisations, DIY scientists and SMEs are part of distilling good practice. We have piloted this procedure at the European stakeholder round table “Empowerment for civil society through participatory investigation?” in February 2019 (organizing the event together with Lucile Ottolini, Evelyne Lhoste, Michael Sogard and Pierre-Benoit Joly) was definitely another highlight!). ECSA project managers are now encouraged to make use of it in their respective projects.
- An ECSA openness policy that formally outlines our commitment to and measures for becoming a more open organization and supporting our members in doing so. A first draft of the policy was discussed with ECSA HQ staff and has now just been commented on by members of the ECSA Steering Committee. We are looking forward to sharing it publicly after editing it and formal approval.
Creating a space to work on inclusiveness, equity and empowerment
Addressing questions of power needs to be a fundamental part of doing Citizen Science as well as of building networks of practitioners. It was therefore an important step to create a space at ECSA that can be a focus point for having and stimulating work on the topics of inclusiveness, equity and empowerment. It was my pleasure to have the opportunity of building a partnership with the Living Knowledge Network. Based on sharing experiences between the approaches of Citizen Science and Community-based Research, our aim is to develop methods on these questions in a joint working group. Highlights include:
- Doing a storytelling workshop on perspectives on Citizen Science from outside Europe at the ECSA international conference 2018 in Geneva. Not only did we have Soledad Luna, Thomas Mboa and Khalissa Ikhlef as truly inspiring speakers. The story café was also very well attended by both many of the forethinkers of CS and many of the people just starting the work in this space, so we also had great discussions. And finally Konrad Förster and Matthias Fromm from Open Science Radio offered to publish my recording of the stories shared and a discussion with speakers as a guest-podcast – the audio is just being polished, I’ll share through the EIE WG mailing list in the next days)!
- Having Daniela Soleri from the Integrity, Diversity and Equity working group of the US-based Citizen Science Association share concepts and learnings from their work in one of our webinars. (With the working group we adopted the idea of having input presentations from practitioners working on questions of empowerment, inclusiveness and equity to make our online meeting more inspiring and worthwhile to attend – here is another example.)
- Being asked to work with the organisers of next year’s ECSA conference on making the event more inclusive.
Supporting the development of ECSA and a growing team at HQ
It was not a small task to combine the logic of implementing an EU-project with the necessities of supporting the development of a young organization. Also, we have continuously worked hard to make each DITOs activity also a resource for our members, e.g. by calling attention to their work or amplifying their initiatives at a European level.
- Working together with so many people donating their time, energy and passion for Citizen Science through contributing to ECSA via their membership, working groups and decision-making bodies.
- Co-leading the DITOs project with Gaia Agnello, who has been a great partner for making bold ideas, getting things done and staying true to our principles throughout.
- Being part of and supporting such a vibrant team at ECSA HQ – with Katrin Vohland, Dorte Riemenschneider, Simone Rüfenacht, Barbara Carneiro, Margaret Gold, Giulia Melilli, Marzia Mazzonetto, Tim Woods, Soledad Luna, André Mascarenhas, Gina Maskell, Franziska Sattler, Marie Grimm, Stefanie Pass and Veronica French.
Thank you for your support!