Written by: Deepa Srivathsa (Assistant Professor, TransDisciplinary University) and Hardik Panchal (Assistant Professor, TransDisciplinary University )
Two years back, we came across a project known as “Season watch”, where documentation of fruiting, flowering, leaf flush, patterns of plants, scientifically known as phenology was initiated and is going on till date. The main aim of the project is to observe the climate and the effects of its changes on phenology of plants.
It is a well known fact understanding the life cycle of the plants and the changes in climate helps in conservation. You will be surprised to know that the program did not involve scientists, or economists but in fact common people like you and me, mainly the school children, teachers and nature enthusiasts. This is where Citizen Science comes into picture. In Citizen Science projects, common public, people from all walks of life including scientists help in data collection. Here huge data and information are gathered in a very short span of time, and has high societal impact. This induces scientific temperament among different sections of society and is an effective tool for communicating science.
Recently we had attended Science Comm’17 workshop for communicating science which was hosted at National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore. The event had a dedicated session on ‘Citizen Science’. Dr. Binoy, faculty from NIAS and Citizen Science expert, explored the potential opportunities and challenges in Citizen Science. He also highlighted Citizen Science as an effective tool for communicating science and inculcating interest in science among members of different sections of society. The workshop also had a practical brainstorming session on possibilities of citizen science projects. The attendees were divided into two groups which came up with ideas where citizen science can play a crucial role e.g. pollution issues, traffic management and garbage management issues in Bengaluru. With the ongoing activity, Dr. Binoy simultaneously explained, the Do’s and Don'ts of exploring Citizen Science.
At TDU, we are initiating “Citizen Science” forum to take-up relevant projects. The projects can vary from science to social data collection, similar to flora and fauna data, disappearance of some sensitive birds, traffic snarls, access to clean drinking water, solid waste and its disposal problems, and the list goes on. Students at TDU will be actively engaged in such projects for fulfillment of their degree requirements. Such projects will create a conducive environment between general public and the university where both are mutually benefited. The experience of getting involved with people of different backgrounds, create awareness and communicate science is extremely fruitful in understanding scientific knowledge in our own backyard.
TDU is eagerly looking forward to make Citizen Science project successful.