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Community Science: Advancing Community Priorities Together

Understanding Community Science

With community science, community members collaborate to conduct and leverage scientific research and technological innovation to advance community priorities and benefit from knowledge and advancements of science and engineering, often in collaboration with scientists and science-engagement practitioners.

Our world faces challenges and opportunities at the intersection of science and society from climate change to public health to rapidly developing technologies. Community science encompasses the wide array of approaches developed by groups of people who share a common geography, set of characteristics, interests, and goals to use science and technology as a means to answer questions and construct solutions relevant for their communities.

Explore the Attributes & Outcomes

This framework of community science attributes and outcomes is informed by a review of existing models, approaches, and toolkits aimed at scientists, science engagement professionals, community organizers, practitioners, and researchers. These principles were refined through interviews and workshops with science engagement professionals who supplied further examples of community science work in action.

 

Community Science in Action

Grassroots data collection efforts and open source tools to help assess environmental impacts

Public Lab

Collecting air quality data to help drive city level climate resiliency

RVAir at Science Museum of Virginia

Diverse partnership empowers local voices to influence climate resiliency planning

Cycles of Resilience from Public Agenda

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Community science encompasses a wide array of approaches that communities and their partners use to answer science- and technology-related questions and construct solutions. Download our brief overview to learn more about the diverse models and approaches to community science that are currently in use.

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Explore networks you can join to connect with other science engagement professionals who have an interest in community science, including ASTC’s Community of Practice for Community Science.

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Our framework for Community Science features a set of attributes and outcomes that are centered around doing respectful work with communities and pursuing authentic, equitable partnerships.

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About ASTC and Community Science

ASTC’s Community Science Initiative, including the information and resources contained in this website, is aimed primarily at building capacity for and scaling the practice of community science among science and technology centers and museums, and allied science engagement organizations. 

The goal of this website is to help describe a set of broad and inclusive attributes, outcomes, and approaches to community science that can be applicable beyond ASTC members and support community science efforts in many types of organizations, while specifically targeting and contextualizing descriptions, examples, resources, and tools to support efforts within science and technology centers and museums.

 

Public Lab was founded in 2010 following the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Seeking to fill a significant gap in community knowledge about the impacts of the oil spill, Public Lab launched an open source platform to collect data and maps of changes in the coastline over time. This effort has since transformed into a strong community-created and -driven environmental monitoring and assessment program. In addition to this open platform, Public Lab offers a space for public engagement and public dialogue.

The Science Museum of Virginia decided to measure local concentrations of airborne pollution in its hometown of Richmond, currently ranked by the National Asthma and Allergy Foundation as the 12th worst city in the United States for asthma sufferers. The museum is working with local youth and other community members to collect local air quality data and create solutions to the City of Richmond’s climate resiliency challenge. Low barriers for participation have helped ensure the community could easily become involved in data collection, which has produced highly-actionable, quality data.

Cycles of Resilience builds relationships between scientists, government, and residents of the Brooklyn, New York neighborhood of Canarsie, so all can successfully participate in collaborative resilience planning. Located on Jamaica Bay, Canarsie was devastated in 2012 by Super Storm Sandy and remains at risk from sea level rise as well as ecosystem and biodiversity loss. Collaborators including Science Resilience Institute for Jamaica Bay, Public Agenda, City University of New York-Brooklyn College’s Center for the Study of Brooklyn, and Canarsie Community Development Incorporated have designed opportunities to empower local residents and help public officials work more effectively with the community.