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How Can We Elevate Community Science within the Scientific Community?

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How Can We Elevate Community Science within the Scientific Community?

If you’re reading this blog, it’s probably not too much of a stretch to surmise that you may be in the ‘choir’ when it comes to community science. As an organization devoted to helping scientists and communities work together to solve problems, it’s been gratifying to watch as the notion of community science has gained steam over the past few years. Lots of people are now on board with the idea that scientists can do better by society and do better by science by collaborating with communities—as equal partners—to ask important questions and inform important decisions.

As a recent Eos article makes clear, ‘coproduction’ (defined as any partnership between researchers and decision-makers that leverages the expertise of both groups to design, conduct, apply, and share the research) is on the rise. Abstracts based on coproduced science have risen sharply in recent years, a trend that appears relatively consistent across multiple disciplines. More and more scientists are reaching beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries and engaging communities with collaborative research approaches. More and more projects are demonstrating the real societal impacts that can accrue from such collaborations.

But community science still has room to grow. The traditions of scientific training, culture and careers run deep. Disconnects in values make it challenging for scientists to let go of some of our assumptions and learn to value a more inclusive set of knowledge sources and ways of making decisions. Disconnects in incentives make it challenging to figure out how to translate different models of knowledge creation into a viable career path.

We need to expand the awareness and understanding of community science throughout the scientific community. To do this we must build trust and demonstrate value. We must also incentivize participation by showing how pursuing these types of projects can reap recognition and rewards, as well as personal and professional fulfillment.

But how?

We’d like to hear from you. So, we’re opening up a call for ideas to elevate community science via a discussion thread on Community Science Connect. Please join the conversation and help guide our efforts in the coming years.

Here are a few ideas we’re kicking around:

  • Organize a community science expo at AGU’s 2018 Fall Meeting.
  • Hold a nationwide project launch event in which multiple community science projects kick off in different locations on the same day.
  • Organize a community science unconference.
  • Work with universities to incorporate community partnerships and a science-to-action framework into their missions as a way to increase academic career paths and enhance educational opportunities relevant to coproduction.

What approaches have you found to be effective in getting people on board with community science? What types of events or environments are ripe for expanding awareness of coproduction? Bring your thoughts over to Community Science Connect today!

Sarah Wilkins subscriber

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