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International ECSA Citizen Science Conference 2018 in Geneva

At the beginning of June (3-5 June 2018), the international citizen science community gathered for the three-day ECSA conference in Geneva.

On Sunday, the “Public Citizen Science Festival” invited Geneva`s citizens to take part. In the "Salle Communale de Plainpalais" cultural centre, they got to know citizen science projects on biodiversity, air quality, astronomy and history. In the sunny afternoon they set off for the Bioblitz in the Teppes des Verbois nature reserve to observe plant and animal species. With the help of a free macro lens - easy to put on smartphones - citizens got the chance to zoom in on nature and take part in the Macro Photo Challenge.

Finally, on Monday, the conference started with a keynote by Bruno Strasser (University of Geneva) on the topic "Citizen Science? Rethinking Science and Public Participation". Questions such as "Is Citizen Science the right term for the participation of interested parties in research" or "How many Citizen Scientists are there worldwide?" encouraged discussions among the participants. 200,000 citizen scientists are active every month, a significantly smaller number than the 7.8 million full-time researchers. After a presentation on the WeObserve project by Steffen Fritz (IIASA), which aims at a better coordination of existing Citizen Observatories, the conference participants got to know each other during speed dating. The afternoon offered a variety of parallel sessions on different topics. Participants learned about global citizen science initiatives such as the Citizen Science Global Partnership or The Open Seventeen and heard about international networks which already exist in Austria, Germany, Spain and other countries worldwide. In workshops on citizen science experiences with online games or motivations of citizen scientists were shared and discussed. Finally, the participants reviewed the day over a dinner in a former power plant building at the Rhone River.

On the last day of the conference, Lionel Larqué (ALLISS) gave a keynote on "Science society continuum: From 'deficit model' to social demand on research - the reform of science in progress". In his presentation, which lasted almost an hour, he strongly questioned the assumption that citizens have no trust in science and added that mistrust and criticism of research are often mixed up. The rest of the day was again filled with numerous dialogue sessions, workshops and speed talks. The topics ranged from "citizen engagement" to "open science" to "observatories". For example, in the story telling workshop participants learned how their citizen science projects could be transformed into exciting stories while others discussed the evaluation of bioflashes in the room next door.

Conclusion: Three successful days with many impressions and new experiences. And the international citizen science community continues to grow! Our thanks go to the organisers of Science et Cité, who have already published photos of the conference.

Further summaries of the conference can be found here, here and here.

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