Doing-it-Together Science Project Legacy

Summary

The Doing It Together Science (DITOs) project was originally conceived in early 2014, and started in May 2016 - just as ECSA celebrated its first conference. Within 3 years, DITOs carried out over 860 events and reached over 500,000 across Europe. The purpose of the project was to enhance the awareness of citizen science and DIY science at both public and policy level. This was done through a whole range of events - from a screening of science documentary followed by a discussion to hands-on experience with molecular biology, and to a travelling “Science Bus”, which stopped in 17 locations across Europe.

 

The project has achieved a lot: it supported ECSA in its critical early years, providing funding and personnel that have helped in setting the practices and processes of the organisation; its funding helped with the second ECSA conference in 2018 (Geneva) and numerous events that engaged ECSA’s members and working groups; it helped to raise the profile of the organisation in international meetings, including covering travel costs to the UN Environmental Assembly in Nairobi in 2019, or the Citizen Science Association conferences in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The project also provided an example of how a Natural History Museum (RBINS) can integrate citizen science into their activities, with an ongoing transformation that is now part of the practices of the organisation.

 

The project developed 13 policy briefs on different areas of citizen science - from the link to open science, to the evaluation of the science bus. Our final conference was blogged and you can find the description here and here.

 

You can find a more complete collection of DITOs documents and results in the Doing it Together science Community on Zenodo.

DITOs involved 11 partners: ECSA, Tekiu, eutema, UCL (coordinator), Universite Paris Descartes CRI, University of Geneva, Kersnikova, Medialab-Prado, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Meritum Association and Waag.

 

Main Resources

Biodesign

  • Finding a good working definition of "biodesign" - one of the two key areas of atcivity in DITOs was one major achievement of the project. Imane Baiz presented the definition at the final conference.
  • Biocrea is a new facilitity established in Medialab Prado open to public for DIY Bio experiments.

Environmental Sustainability

Deliverables D1.3 and D2.3 shows good practices and successful event templates for public engagement in Environmental Sustainability and Biodesign activities. They will be published soon, and these are there references to find them: 

  • "DITOs Consortium, 2019. Doing It Together science: Good practices in participatory Environmental Sustainability. UCL, London." This is a guide with good practices from different CS organisers and facilitators. It includes practical info to engage public, approach to communities, measure CS impact, care for the organisation team, etc.
  • "DITOs Consortium, 2019. Doing It Together science: D1.3 Good practices in participatory biodesign, UCL, London." This guide show different kind of organisation for events related to CS.

Public Engagement

  • Science Bus - the Do-It-Together science bus, coordinated by Waag, started by recruiting multiple ‘science bus captains’ from the public to drive the bus across the whole of Europe and make 17 stops at a variety of community centres, small towns, public festivals and museums to run participatory workshops and document the process on social media. The goal was to involve a broad public in ready-made activities from the bus and ask the participants to contribute their own folk remedies and recipes. With the step-by-step instructions used during the workshops everyone can make their own yogurt, pH-meter, DIY phone charger, soap, sunscreen, particulate matter meter or bacteria detector. The step-by-step instructions are available here in 7 languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Slovenian or Spanish.
  • Innovation Hubs - concept for setting up of DITOs partner organisations as innovation hubs, including description of their facilities and multiplier arrangements with third parties.
  • Videos summaries of Interactivos? events run by Medialab Prado: Interactivos?'17 and Interactivos?'18.

Policy Engagement (work package led by ECSA)

  • Summary presentation explaining our approach to Policy Engagement and highlights of our work in DITOs.

Reports from key events

Policy Briefs

 

ECSA's role during the DITOs project

People involved

  • Claudia Göbel (project co-lead, co-lead of work package “Policy Engagement for RRI”, link to Biodesign, DITOs legacy)

  • Gaia Agnello (project co-lead, co-lead of work package “Policy Engagement for RRI”, link to Environmental Sustainability, final conference)

  • Barbara Carneiro (student assistant, online student challenge 2, teacher training workshops, final conference)

  • Gina Maskell (student assistant, online student challenge 1)

  • Franziska Sattler (student assistant, collection of CS guidelines, communication strategy, 1st stakeholder round table)

  • Katrin Vohland (initial PI)

  • Dorte Riemenschneider (ECSA General Manager)

  • Muki Haklay (DITOs consortium coordinator, since 2019 ECSA Executive Co-Chair)
     

After DITOs: ECSA as legacy organisation

The DITOs project has been intimately linked to the first five years of ECSA as a maturing organisation - the first discussion about DITOs started in early 2014, and the first proposal was written in the same year that ECSA was incorporated as non-profit organisation in Germany, a step that occurred roughly after two years of intensive exchange to formalise a European umbrella organisation for Citizen Science. Since the ideas for the DITOs project took shape while the ECSA secretariat was established and the community started to become more connected, supporting the establishment of ECSA has always been a key aim of DITOs. And progress with organisational development was substantial:

  • DITOs partners were among the first organisations to become ECSA members – today there are more than 170;
  • ECSA Headquarters’ capacities increased from one part-time employee before DITOs to four staff members with the beginning of the project and eleven now at its end (however all still part-time);
  • DITOs also supported the first major transitions in leadership from the founding chairs of the association to new directions;
  • ECSA communication channels have been fundamentally expanded – from a basic newsletter to multiple-channels and a knowledge sharing platform being built;
  • DITOs was the first EU project for ECSA; today there are six – among them the Coordination and Support Action EU-Citizen.Science that is to establish the reference platform on Citizen Science information and training in Europe;
  • While ECSA was mainly linked to the US-based Citizen Science Association three years ago, today it is part of a much denser ecosystem of related networks in Europe, including a COST Action supporting research on Citizen Science (CA15212) and national networks in many EU countries, as well as internationally;
  • And finally, relations to related communities of practice, such as DIY science, community-based research and science communication have been established and often transformed into cooperations and strategic partnerships, for instance by exploring needs for opening institutions with DIYbio communities, creating a joint working group with the Living Knowledge Network and ECSITE being a fellow project partner in EU-Citizen.Science.

Building on the project as energiser for the first five years of activity, how can ECSA now become a custodian for DITOs legacy? DITOs’ overall aim as stated in the proposal was to “make a step change in European public engagement with science and innovation [...] [by] moving from a model in which scientific research, innovation, and problem-solving is mainly driven by scientific institutions to one that is based on active public participation and capacity building with various levels and strategies of engagement in the scientific process”. We defined four dimensions of addressing this aim: “deep public engagement in scientific knowledge production through citizen science; an ‘escalator’ that allows people to enter at a level of engagement that matches their needs, interests, and abilities, while also encouraging them to move beyond; the strengthening of European cooperation through capacity building of the European Citizen Science Association; and participatory activities, with a strong focus on cross-European fertilisation and knowledge sharing between hubs and activity centres”. Against this background becoming a legacy organisation for DITOs translates into the question: How can ECSA continue to promote citizen science, understood in a pluralistic way, and strengthen European cooperation and cross-fertilisation between practitioners?

We have used the past three years to discuss this question with ECSA members, partner organisations, staff, critics, competitors, research and engagement funders, policy makers and other stakeholders. While the concrete nature of such support will always depend on specific contexts, overarching principles can be identified for how ECSA shall realise its role as network organisation to nurture a thriving, diverse and inclusive community of practice. In summary, we call this “working openly”. It comes into play, for instance regarding the definitions we use, how we interact with members or how our teams work. Based on a series of activities we have realised in DITOs, we have iteratively developed a concept and made prototypes of what “working openly” can mean in practice. There have been two central dimensions to this work - how can we foster openness by supporting CS practitioners, like the DITOs innovation hubs, and how can ECSA become a more open organisation and network itself. We have identified several dimensions to address openness in citizen science related to our work at ECSA and are currently working to condense them in an ECSA Openness Policy. In addition, we have developed in DITOs practical measures to implement a more open culture at ECSA, including the development of guidelines and tools for our working groups. We'll soon update more on that. By advocating for, implementing and further working on these seeds of openness, we argue, ECSA can continue to promote citizen science, understood in a pluralistic way, and strengthen European cooperation and cross-fertilisation between practitioners - thus enacting DITOs legacy. With this vision, rather than picturing ECSA as a repository for old deliverables, we propose an idea of DITOs legacy as a living culture, structures and procedures for supporting new work - and we're looking forward to co-create this culture with you.

Let's be in touch!

 

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