95th ESA Annual Meeting (August 1 -- 6, 2010)

SS 17 - Public Participation in Research (e.g., Citizen Science) and Ecological Literacy: Meeting the Challenges in Times of Rapid Climate Change.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM
414, David L Lawrence Convention Center
Rebecca C. Jordan
Rick Bonney , Jennifer Shirk , Heidi L. Ballard and Candie Wilderman
Ecosystem conservation and sustainability in the face of rapid climate change has become one of the most important challenges of our time. Dealing with this challenge requires public involvement and knowledge as well as an understanding of ecological change over space and time, goals that can both be met through public participation in scientific research (PPSR; e.g., citizen science, volunteer monitoring). This session will build on a conversation initiated at the 94th annual ESA meeting in Albuquerque, NM, where ecologists from a number of fields set a research agenda to establish best practices for advancing ecological literacy through PPSR. Many projects that engage the public in research initiatives are designed with the assumption that individual participants will develop ecological literacy based on participation alone. We need to continue to examine the evidence, however, to isolate key issues for future research. The publication of a 2009 NSF-supported inquiry report offers tools for a critical assessment of PPSR learning outcomes and suggests research priorities for the field. Based on key issues identified in the inquiry report as well as those raised at the 94th annual meeting, we intend to discuss: (1) best practices by which ecologists can meet the dual goals of generating a scientifically valid data-set while promoting public understanding of ecology; (2) evaluating outcomes of ecological PPSR with particular respect to understanding and behavior related to mitigation for climate change. We will share the outcomes of this discussion through the public participation in research online community (www.citizenscience.org).
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