Step Change Policy Brief 1
Step Change is a Horizon 2020 Citizen Science (CS) project, which is an emerging field that refers to the active engagement of the general public in scientific research. In fact, during last decades, CS has become increasingly relevant, as witnessed by the rapid diffusion of CS in different research fields, the use of platforms and apps or the establishment of European and national funding programmes aimed at supporting CS projects. This turn is connected to the profound changes affecting science by making it more aligned with the European’s Union (EU) Open Science policy and the European Research Area (ERA), which intends to position open science as the modus operandi of modern science, and seeks as an ultimate goal that “the general public should be able to make significant contributions and be recognised as valid European science knowledge producers”.
However, the potential of CS is still partly to be discovered, both as a specific research approach and, more generally, as a policy tool to strengthen the often difficult and even conflicting relations between science and society. Challenges such as data quality and validation, scientific recognition, demonstrated impacts, and sustainability, among others, seem to hold back the whole potential of CS. Step Change has been precisely conceived to provide a great contribution by generating new knowledge useful to explore the potential, but also the critical issues, limitations, and recurrent obstacles of CS as a research approach and evidence-informed-policy tool.
Step Change builds on the assumption that CS can play an even broader societal and scientific role than is generally acknowledged. The project implements five Citizen Science Initiatives (CSIs) in the field of health, energy, and environment. The CSIs tackle the issues of wildlife conservation in Slovenia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in the UK, energy communities in Germany, infectious disease outbreak preparedness in Italy, and off-grid renewable energy in agriculture in Uganda.
The five CSIs have been planned also to provide an empirical basis that allows the formulation of recommendations and the production of instruments for better cementing CS within Research & Innovation institutions, as well as changing researchers’ mindsets on its value.
vs3_SwafS-27-2020_Citizen Science_POLICY BRIEF _Step Change-cs-3.pdf
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