Post by Tina Phillips
With a focus on environmental justice and a theme of “Growing our family tree,” the 2019 Citizen Science Association conference in Raleigh, North Carolina promises to bring many disciplines, practitioners, and perspectives together to inspire scholarship, commitment, and action. The conference, hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences begins on March 13th with workshops, field trips, and an evening reception. Hundreds of scientists, educators, community leaders, and scholars representing disciplines as varied as astronomy to public health, are expected to attend the five-day event. Registration for the conference is now open!
North Carolina has long been considered the home of the environmental justice movement, and there will be an Environmental Justice panel on the evening of March 15th. This panel will discuss key issues regarding equity and justice and potential solutions that incorporate citizen science to improve human and environmental health. Through funding from the National Science Foundation, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (the CitSci2019 local host institution) is supporting travel scholarships for dozens of community-based organizations on the forefront of environmental justice issues affecting marginalized communities. This will result in a significant representation of members of under-served communities lending their voices and expertise to conversations around equity, justice, and action for and by affected communities.
Another track of this year’s conference will focus on advancing problem-driven citizen science. Some projects see a disconnect between the data that are collected and the change they want to affect – for people, policy, and the world around us. Sessions in this track will emphasize ways to intentionally approach project design issues such as sustainability models, assessing and appropriately leveraging volunteer skills, enhancing data quality, best practices for stakeholder engagement, policy perspectives, and resource management, to improve the ability to impact problems.
The third track of the conference will focus on education, exploring citizen science both in K-12, classrooms, higher education, and out-of-school settings, with an emphasis on scientific inquiry and civic action. Hands-on workshops before and after the main conference program will take educators on a journey of experiential learning, inspiring them to guide their students in designing their own investigations. Attendees will learn about cutting edge citizen science happening in experimental gardens, BioBlitzes, museums, universities, and libraries. Scholarships are also available for K-12 classroom teachers.
The diversity of talks and presenters across the three tracks and beyond will ensure stimulating and thought-provoking conversations. Among the many other topics that will be discussed at the conference are: environmental public health research, community science literacy, ethics oversight, policy perspectives, cultural diversity, advocacy, and leveraging corporate partnerships. This range of topics can make choosing what sessions to attend challenging, but it also provides rich opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas from many different perspectives.
A chance for networking
Each day of the conference also will provide numerous opportunities for networking with colleagues, old and new. Poster sessions and exhibits will offer attendees additional spaces for one-on-one conversations centered around specific interests. The four plenary sessions will support deep and intimate conversations pertaining to environmental justice, education, and innovative science. Intentional networking and community-building sessions throughout the event will help people connect within and across areas of interest.
To maximize networking opportunities, attendees should plan to stay at one of the two official conference hotels: the Marriott Raleigh City Center or the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel. Both hotels are in the heart of downtown Raleigh and a short walk to the conference center. Staying at these hotels will help the Citizen Science Association meet its 2019 contractual commitments and support CSA’s financial future. Please show your support for the CSA by booking in our blocks of rooms. If we can meet our hotel commitments, CSA will also make a donation to the LGBT Center of Raleigh.
No matter your role, discipline, or expertise, the CSA is proud to welcome you to Raleigh in March. The conference will explore positive solutions to our most pressing problems using our shared values as our common language. We hope you will join us and stay with us!