Why a Citizen Science Center in Zurich?

Since the Citizen Science Center Zurich is quite young (the team started working about a year ago) we would like to open this blog by introducing ourselves and explain why we are here:
The Citizen Science Center Zurich is a joint initiative of the University of Zurich and the ETH Zurich. It aims at engaging academic scientists and the public in next-generation citizen science projects. That means projects that are scientifically excellent and also have a high degree of participation of citizens in ideally all phases of the research process. Why is that necessary? As with all things, people have different opinions whether something is useful or not. But here are three reasons why we think Zurich needs a Citizen Science Center

1. Zurich has a local history of participatory research

Researchers at both UZH and ETHZ have a strong track record in citizen science, participatory research, and citizen science-related fields such as artificial intelligence, social science and the law. Combining these researchers’ expertise represents a unique opportunity for synergy. Check out some projects of the past here.
But also Citizen Scientists have been around in Zurich since quite a while, just think of the long tradition of the so called naturalists. We will explore that a bit further in one of the upcoming blog posts.

2. Fuel for Innovation and Education

Citizen Science bears the opportunity to promote creativity, scientific literacy, and innovation. On the cover of the newly published book Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy it says:
Citizen science […] is a rapidly expanding field in open science and open innovation. It provides an integrated model of public knowledge production and engagement with science. As a growing worldwide phenomenon, it is invigorated by evolving new technologies that connect people easily and effectively with the scientific community. Catalysed by citizens’ wishes to be actively involved in scientific processes, as a result of recent societal trends, it also offers contributions to the rise in tertiary education.”

3. Data and Action for Sustainability

Citizen science provides a valuable tool for citizens to play a more active role in sustainable development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of global goals developed in 2015 by the 193 UN member states and representatives of civil society. They are part of the UN Agenda 2030, a comprehensive call for action to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
High quality, timely and accessible data are required to monitor progress towards the goals, and there is a strong consensus that citizen engagement is critical.
Through citizen science, people can directly engage with and monitor issues that affect them, bring new perspectives and knowledge into science and decision-making, and ultimately demand or drive change.

This is why we, funded by the two biggest universities of the country, think it is a good idea to promote, support and further develop Citizen Science here in Zurich, with national and international collaborations. Join us in that journey if you have a great idea for a Citizen Science project. Reach out and tell us.

The journey begins …

What to expect from this blog?

Thanks for joining us!

The best two things about Citizen Science in my view are: First, it is super diverse (just like science in general), and second, everyone can do it (unlike in academic/professional science, where you need a university degree to be acknowledged as researcher) – because science should be accessible to everyone, not only as a profession but also as a hobby. All this makes Citizen Science a perfect topic for a blog.

We will cover a wide range of topics and formats from the world of Citizen Science, asking questions like: What are the benefits and challenges of Citizen Science? What kinds of projects are out there? Who are the people behind these projects and what are their stories and motivations? What Citizen Science activities happen here in Zurich and Switzerland?
To read on all that, stay tuned and do not hesitate to comment and tell me what you would like to read about here in future.

Spark ideas