Symposium: Inclusivity in citizen science

UPDATE: Useful links added; Symposium recording coming soon | Join us on 29 November for a symposium exploring inclusivity within environmental citizen science: where we are and where we can go

The UK has a long history of volunteer involvement in environmental monitoring, which has continued to grow in recent years. We know that the diversity of citizen science, or community science, volunteers is not reflective of the wider population, suggesting we could do more to encourage engagement from all members of society. What is the impact of this for society and for monitoring data, and how can we improve? These are themes we'll explore in the symposium, and we hope you will join us.

What you can expect

This symposium will include a series of talks focussed on inclusivity in citizen science, with examples from the UK and elsewhere, and there will be time for questions and discussion.

Who is the symposium for?

The intended audience is those involved in running citizen science projects, but the symposium is open to all.


When: Wednesday 29th November 10.00-13.00 GMT
Online via Zoom 


The symposium recording is in two parts:

Videos hosted by UKCEH on YouTube.


Session 1 (10:00-11.35) Talks followed by audience questions and panel discussion.

  1. Opportunities for increasing inclusivity in citizen science projects: Rebecca Jefferson, Human Nature
  2. Engaging more diverse audiences in bat conservation and monitoring: Philip Briggs & Stephanie Fernandes, Bat Conservation Trust
  3. The FSC BioLinks Project - Lessons from a 5-year project engaging people with species ID and biological recording: Keiron Derek Brown, Biological Recording Company
  4. Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, Accessible, Large-scale (IDEAL) Participatory Science: Prof. Caren Cooper, North Carolina State University

Session 2 (11.45-13.00) Talks followed by audience questions and panel discussion.

  1. Inclusion and Community Empowerment with Citizen Science: Lessons Learned from the Global South: Dr Artemis Skarlatidou, University College London
  2. The power of rock pooling and community citizen science!: Dr Ben Holt, The Rock Pool Project
  3. Cascading impacts of lack of diversity in citizen science: Prof. Sarah West

Final reflection: Niki Newton, JNCC

Talks and speakers

Opportunities for increasing inclusivity in citizen science projects

Rebecca Jefferson

This presentation will explore some of the challenges to inclusivity faced by citizen science projects and highlight opportunities for broadening engagement.  Citizen science is an inclusive process at its heart, but the audiences engaged with projects are often not representative of the wider population. This leads to the benefits of engaging with citizen science projects not being equally received, and reduces the perspectives shared within the project.  Examples of how citizen science projects can move to more inclusive models will be discussed.

Rebecca Jefferson is the founder and director of Human Nature, which empowers conservation professionals and organisations to use social science.  Through training and mentoring Rebecca supports those with backgrounds in natural science to build their capacity to understand and use the evidence of people to increase their conservation impact.

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Engaging more diverse audiences in bat conservation and monitoring

Philip Briggs & Stephanie Fernandes

We will look at work carried out and commissioned by the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) to assess the current levels of diversity across our volunteers and within the conservation sector as a whole, and the factors behind low ethnic diversity in particular. We will outline changes we have made in response to these findings, and new roles and exciting projects that have enabled us to reach under-represented communities.

Philip Briggs is the Monitoring Manager at the BCT, where he has worked for 20 years within the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) team.

Stephanie Fernandes is a Volunteer Engagement Officer at BCT, where she has been working in the NBMP team since April, focussing on reaching out to people from under-represented backgrounds.

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The FSC BioLinks Project - Lessons from a 5-year project engaging people with species ID and biological recording

Keiron Derek Brown

The BioLinks project was launched by the Field Studies Council in 2018 to engage more people with biological recording and address the generational skills gap that is forming when it comes to species identification skills. Part of this included engaging more young people, ensuring women were equally represented and considering how training can be adapted for neurodiverse audiences. Keiron will delve into the audience engagement work of this successful project, including the success, the challenges, the lessons learnt and how the project had to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Keiron Derek Brown has been involved with a range of invertebrate projects across the UK, including designing and managing the BioLinks project for the Field Studies Council. He set up the Biological Recording Company, where he highlights invertebrate research through the entoLIVE series and runs a wide range of invertebrate courses and events. In his spare time, he is an Entomology Chair of the London Natural History Society and is the National Recorder for Earthworms.

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Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, Accessible, Large-scale (IDEAL) Participatory Science

Dr Caren Cooper

Contributory projects run by science institutions are often situated within dominant culture and engage participants who are relatively homogenous in terms of socio-demographics. Given geographic patterns in social disparities, the lack of diverse engagement can produce data-rich and data-poor areas that both perpetuate social injustices and limit scientific research. Projects can become diverse by adopting inclusive, equitable, and accessible practices. In a forthcoming study, we will test a wide range of such practices with two nationwide contributory projects. Our findings will improve The Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, Accessible, Large-scale (IDEAL) Participatory Science Handbook.

Dr Caren Cooper, Associate Professor of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. An advocate for participatory science practices, including public science, citizen science, and community science, pursuing scholarly inquiry into these areas with a lens of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI). Caren carries out social science research to develop public science programs that engage participants in collective efforts to generate large-scale data to study, visualize, and change the interactions between social and ecological systems, including the built environment.

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Inclusion and Community Empowerment with Citizen Science: Lessons Learned from the Global South

Dr Artemis Skarlatidou

Inclusion and community empowerment in Citizen Science is about making sure that everyone’s knowledge, skills, efforts, and voices are equally important in shaping scientific agendas to address local and global challenges. Although citizen science is gaining increasing popularity in the Western world, a small number of citizen science initiatives take place in the Global South. This means that a significant amount of the global population is excluded from existing scientific conservations, environmental governance, and sustainable development debates, which are common themes within citizen science. This talk is based on materials from the book Geographic Citizen Science Design: No one left behind, and will showcase extreme citizen science initiatives from the Global South with a focus on the socio-technical and design perspectives to address barriers and support inclusive knowledge-creation processes, which empower local communities and could potentially transform the world.

Dr Artemis Skarlatidou is a Lecturer in Citizen Science at UCL Geography. She is a member of the Extreme Citizen Science and the People Nature Lab groups. Her research and teaching focus on socio-technical and design perspectives in citizen science and the trust-building potential of bottom-up participatory approaches in science and environmental sustainability. She is the editor of the book Geographic Citizen Science Design: No one left behind.

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The power of rock pooling and community citizen science!

Dr Ben Holt

Over the last six years the Rock Pool Project has worked with 1,000s of members of the public in the South-West of England from a very wide variety of backgrounds; from visiting tourists, to people with long term health condition, to local children on free school meals. The incredible intertidal habitat we work with facilitates this inclusivity, there is something for everyone and everyone can engage with our activities in a way that suits them. We have also learnt a thing or two about what works and what doesn't work when looking to inspire from all walks of life to connect with local wildlife. I'm looking forward to sharing these lessons with you all at this exciting symposium.

Dr Ben Holt, CEO & Co-Founder of the Rock Pool Project, is a prominent marine ecologist, specialising in citizen science, working to empower people of all ages to collect vital information about the environment which can be used for scientific studies.  Ben has trained and led hundreds of members of the public to survey our coastlines and contribute meaningfully to marine science and conservation.

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Cascading impacts of lack of diversity in citizen science

Sarah West

I'll present a recent paper Rachel Pateman and I wrote about the potential impacts that can arise from citizen science projects and what happens if, as in many citizen science projects, your participants are not from diverse backgrounds. I'll show how lack of diversity can lead to outcomes not occurring, or only occurring for certain sectors of society, thereby widening inequalities.

Sarah West is a Professor in Citizen Science and Director of SEI's York Centre, based at the University of York. She's been running, designing and evaluating citizen science projects for 15 years and is passionate about increasing diversity of who participates in projects. Her current projects include SAMHE (about air quality in schools), Youth LIVES (about youth mental health) and Ecological Citizens (about co-designing sustainable technologies).

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Useful links 

These links were provided by the speakers and other participants.

Rebecca Jefferson

Phillip Brigs & Stephanie Fernandes

Keiron Derek Brown

Artemis Skarlatiduo

Caren Cooper

Additional links shared by the audience

Inclusivity in CS symposium detail


If you have any questions Sam Amy or Michael Pocock will be happy to help.


This event was hosted by the UKEOF Citizen Science Working Group and is supported by UKCEH and JNCC.