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Citizen Science: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

A portal to citizen science resources and opportunities at Carnegie Mellon, around Pittsburgh, and online.

Achieving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Science

Black girl checking scientific instrumentThe Citizen Science Initiative serves as the primary vehicle for achieving diversity, equity, and inclusivity within CMU Libraries' Open Science and Data Collaborations (OSDC) program. Pandya (2012) writes, 

“Citizen science (CS) has the potential to democratize science (USEPA 2016) by making the scientific process participatory and inclusive of many stakeholders in knowledge generation, dissemination, and decision-making (Jordan et al. 2017; McCormick 2007). Furthermore, CS may confer broader benefits to communities (environmental democracy, scientific literacy, citizen inclusion in local issues) and local ecosystems (conservation and biodiversity efforts) (Ballard et al. 2018; Cooper et al. 2007; Conrad and Hilchey 2011; Larese-Casanova and Prysby 2018; Mueller et al. 2012). However, while studies have shown positive outcomes for CS participants in terms of scientific learning (Evans et al. 2005; Jordan et al. 2011; Phillips et al. 2018) and civic engagement (Dunlap 1992; Marcinkowski 1993; Nerbonne and Nelson 2004), participation in CS does not reflect the broader demographics of the US (Pandya 2012).”

DEI and Citizen Science in the Media

DEI Challenges in Citizen Science

Bar graph showing participation in citizen science by demographic categoryDespite its promise, citizen science has not been effective at engaging individuals across all demographic categories equally. Pandya (2012) continues, 

“Citizen science is a powerful tool for connecting people to science, but in the US, such initiatives have not connected as well to groups that have been historically underrepresented in science. Research suggests that while several factors contribute to this lack of diverse participation in citizen science, the critical hurdle may be an absence of alignment between community priorities and research objectives” (Pandya 2012).

To overcome these obstacles, the OSDC’s Citizen Science program is taking special measures to ensure that its programming accounts for the unique challenges faced by historically underrepresented groups and incorporate special accommodations to better enable and encourage their participation. 

Read more about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at CMU.