Storytelling workshop ECSA 2018 ©Science et Cite EvaZornio-6

Empowering civil society through participatory investigation?

1-2 February 2019
LISIS, Université Paris Est Marne-la-Vallée (RER Noisy-Champs), France

This 2-day workshop is dedicated to exploring new types of interactions between science and society, which we call participatory investigation, and how such interactions can contribute to the empowerment of civil society. We want to discuss such interactions from the perspective of civil society organisations (NGOs), a point of view that has so far been largely neglected.

The workshop is organised in collaboration by European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) within the H2020 project Doing it Together Science (DITOs), Pour une alliance sciences en société (ALLISS), Institut francilien recherche, innovation, société (IFRIS), Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Sciences Innovations Sociétés (LISIS) and the Living Knowledge Network (LKN).

There is a preliminary agenda here.

If you would like to participate, please register by Sunday 9th December 2018 (see section "How to take part").



Objectives of the workshop

We will share experiences about empowerment* of civil society among actors from the field of participatory investigation* in Europe (e.g. Citizen Science*, Community-based Research*, Sciences Participatives*, etc.). We are especially interested in a better understanding of the perspective of NGOs. Therefore we seek contributions that address participatory investigation projects that are realized by NGOs or organized in cooperation with them. We invite individuals and organisations with experience in running participatory investigation projects, European networks of such projects as well as social science researchers analyzing such projects. We want to start a joint conversation to identify shared concerns and to develop ideas for joint actions in order to support diverse forms of participatory investigation across Europe.

* For more details on the concepts used please see the background document.

Main themes

In order to both share experiences and construct a common vision of how participatory investigation can contribute to empowering civil society and what we need to strengthen this, the focus of this first two-day seminar should meet the expectations of the members of the organising networks ECSA, ALLISS, and LKN.

We have identified the following 6 questions as common points of interest for starting the conversation:

  1. What experiences of empowering civil society do we find among different networks concerned with participatory investigation?
  2. How can we organise spaces for cooperation between civil society and higher education & research institutions? With a particular attention to the programmatic and institutional frameworks which favour them (or not) (for example post-H2020).
  3. How can we create new research topics and research approaches based on cooperation between civil society and researchers based at an academic institution, e.g. a university?
  4. How can we change higher education curricula to be able to integrate cooperation between civil society and students?
  5. How can we involve members of civil society directly in research?
  6. What are potentials and challenges for empowerment of civil society through cooperation with researchers, students as well as education and research institutions?

Links with ALLISS working groups are for instance: ALLISS started a working group on chronic risks to figure out how to experiment with plural orientations of research, i.e. incorporating various aims and knowledges. The group is dedicated to formulating questions about “environmental degradation” and “health” through participatory research. Also, the working group on “intermediations between sciences and society”, aims at equipping the actors for successful interactions. So far, they have shared experiences of intermediations in the fields of agronomy, health, public engagement in sciences and digital communities. Website:

Links to the LKN, the international network of science shops and Community-based research, exist in relation to empowerment of civil society through cooperation with university researchers and students, and the shaping of such initiatives and their impact in interaction with the socio-material context. Website of the network:

Links to the work of ECSA are emerging especially with the working group on "Empowerment, inclusiveness and equity" that ECSA has launched in mid 2018. The aim of the working group is to support a discussion on these three topics in the Citizen Science community in Europe and collect experiences. For this reason we explore connections between the approaches of Citizen Science and Community-based research and work with the Living Knowledge network to do joint method development. We're continuously updating our activites on this website:

How to take part

We aim to have about 30 participants from NGOs and academia with experience in empowering civil society through participatory investigation projects from across Europe, including ca. 10 from France.

Expression of interest

For the registration (see below), we kindly ask you to submit a short expression of interest (max. 2 pages) which includes a description of who you are and your potential contribution to the workshop. In the description please address the following points:

  • The experience of participatory investigation related to empowerment of civil society that you are/have been involved in. We seek examples of successful initiatives as well as challeging or failed ones. The descriptions of experiences might be shared with the selected workshop participants beforehand for preparation.
  • Which one(s) of the six questions above do you want to address primarily?
  • Are you working at an NGO or have collaborated with one?
  • Does your experience concern running participatory investigation projects, European networks of such projects or social science research analyzing such projects?
  • Are you a member of any of the networks organising the workshop?
  • If this makes sense to you, what field of participatory investigation would you say is your experience mostly part of: Citizen Science, Community-based Research, Sciences Participatives, etc.?

You can find more details on the concepts used in this background document.

General criteria for selection

  • Quality and relevance of the submitted expressions of interest
  • Spectrum of perspectives, backgrounds and case studies
  • Geographical and thematic spread
  • Gender balance

Travel cost support

We have a limited amount of money to give support for travel and accomodation expenses. If you would like to request this compensation, please indicate how much money you would need in your expression of interest. We will gather requests and try to pay the required amounts; however if the requests exceed the total available amount, we will have to pay a lump sum for everybody. This support is intended first and foremost to support the participation of people who do not have other funding to attend this workshop – so if you have other possibilities, please go for those. Generally, you will need to pay the travel first and then get reimbursed after the event. If your participation depends on getting an advance before the event, please note this in the expression of interest.


If you would like to attend the workshop please register through this page until Sunday 9th December 2018.


The workshop will consist of a mix of formats:

  • keynotes to get some inspiring examples and reflections from practice and research - we're aspiring to have co-presentations by NGOs/practitioners and academics;
  • workshops on the "how-to" questions outlined above; there should be 3-4 workshops in parallel;
  • panels to discuss with a group a stakeholders on a particular topic.


Please find a preliminary agenda here - we will continuously update it in the next weeks. 


The main language of this workshop will be English. We cannot provide formal translation during the event but we will ask if people are willing to form informal whisper groups for on-the-spot translations for anybody who wishes some support.


For questions & comments please get in touch with any member of the organising team:

Claudia Göbel (ECSA), Pierre-Benoit Joly (LISIS), Evelyne Lhoste (LISIS), Lucile Ottolini (LISIS), Michael Søgaard Jørgensen (Living Knowledge)

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