Political Ecologies of Citizen Science

This session explores the political ecologies of citizen science, or community-based monitoring (CBM). Citizen science and CBM programs are increasingly popular models of environmental governance around the world and have been used to monitor a range of systems, including forests, water, fish, and climate. Accordingly, a handful of review papers have sought to highlight the various benefits, challenges, and governance models associated with their uptake (see, for example, Bonney et al 2014; Carlson and Cohen 2018; Conrad and Hilchey 2011; Kosmala et al 2016; Whitelaw 2003). While these reviews have been pragmatic in their recommendations and in supporting scholars and practitioners in implementing and understanding the possible forms of CBM, they have largely been silent on the power structures implicit in these management and governance models. Moreover, they say little on the ontological underpinnings of such systems, and often posit ‘science’ – homogenous, hegemonic, and apolitical – as the common language spoken by community members and policy makers. The literature on citizen science and CBM often presents the desired end goal as data sharing for policy making. This session problematizes these assumptions, and queries the social, political, and ecological implications of this ascendant model of resource governance.


To that end, this session seeks papers that explore the political ecologies of citizen science and CBM. We are especially interested in theoretical or case-study based papers that examine any of the following:


  • The funding arrangements (and their implications) for citizen science and CBM;

  • Issues around the intellectual property resulting from citizen science;

  • The relationship between Indigenous or Traditional Knowledge and citizen science or CBM programs; and

  • The science/policy nexus in the context of citizen science or CBM programs.


Interested participants should send a 200-word abstract to Alice Cohen (alice.cohen@acadiau.ca) by November 15th. Participants will be notified by November 21st and must register for the conference by December 1st.

Please reload