We are pleased to announce Dr Uta Wehn as one of ECSA’s new board members, along with Susanne Hecker. Here, Uta tells us a little about her research career and involvement in citizen science.
Can you tell us about your research background?
I come from the field of science, technology and innovation studies, with a background in ICTs. Currently, I work as associate professor of water innovation studies in the Integrated Water Systems & Governance department at IHE Delft, Netherlands. My research is located where digital innovation, data and knowledge co-creation intersect with water and environmental management.
Within this and my capacity-development work, I focus on the social dynamics of innovation, including how to harness digital transformations for participatory environmental governance and sustainable behaviour. This includes the co-design of projects and interventions with local stakeholders, and of community-based monitoring for natural resources management.
What has been your involvement in citizen science?
My research on the science of citizen science includes case studies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, using Living Labs principles and tailoring user-centred, multistakeholder co-design and impact methods to citizen science. I have taken a leading role in several projects, including an innovation incubator for citizen science. During more than 20 years of combined experience in research, industry and capacity development, I have also developed a broad network of partners, including strong links within the citizen science and earth observation communities.
Which roles do you see ECSA playing in the coming years?
In the 21st century, we face many existential crises: for the sustainability of our earth and for human society in particular. In my view, citizen science is a key mechanism for the knowledge co-creation, awareness raising and behaviour change needed to tackle these crises and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. My vision of ECSA’s role is to be the convenor and accelerator for citizen science in Europe: connecting stakeholders who have a passion for or questions about citizen science; consolidating knowledge in face-to-face and online environments; and spurring innovation in citizen science.
To do this, ECSA needs to extend beyond citizen science enthusiasts and establish better connections with stakeholders from civil society, research, policy, education and finance, in Europe and internationally.
What will you bring to ECSA to realise this?
I would like to use my scientific skills, expertise and networks to help ECSA make decisions that deliver on the social innovation potential of citizen science to achieve impact, trigger behaviour change and foster true knowledge societies, in Europe and beyond. I will support ECSA through my research insights, my expertise in (organisational) capacity development, and my networks, as well as my substantial strategic experience in organisational, process and knowledge management.