Citizen Science Across a Spectrum: Building Partnerships to Broaden the Impact of Citizen Science
Environmental protection as a movement is broadening to both invite and require the participation and energy of everyone, including federal agencies, local governments, activists, and enthusiasts. Citizen science and community science, approaches rooted in non-traditional partnerships and diverse participation, are a strong approach to science, and they are especially strong approaches to a wide range of outcomes with direct impacts on the protection of the environment, from civic engagement all the way to enforcement action. There is evidence that institutions and agencies are moving towards more inclusive visions of their missions, and citizen and community scientists are motivated to engage. We propose a spectrum of engagement that defines opportunities for citizen science and community science beyond the participation of volunteers in institution-driven or scientist-driven research; we also provide examples of projects and efforts that have led to outcomes for each of the spectrum categories. We argue that the impact of citizen science and community science can be strengthened through the recognition of a wide range of partnership structures, including long-term community documentation, community pattern identification, community problem source identification, and advocacy to community. Citizen science and community science represent a more inclusive version of science, and provide a model for embracing truly collaborative environmental protection, as well.