Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Community Science: Why The Name has Changed

Community science in action: intertidal monitoring at Kinzie Beach,
Fort Worden. (staff photo)



Our organization prides itself on our use of science as a tool for inspiring stewardship of the Salish Sea among our community.

For years, our collaboration with volunteers in gathering data, analyzing this information, and planning new projects has been called citizen science. In fact, citizen science and the involvement of community members in the scientific process is so important to our organization that we consider it to be one of our core competencies. 

The projects that we participate in make Port Townsend and the surrounding Puget Sound a better place. This work has made us a leader in our community and in doing so has given us a greater responsibility for making sure that the message we present truly reflects our values. This is why we are reevaluating our use of the term “citizen science”. 

Living in the United States means that the word “citizen” carries a different weight. It brings up issues of citizenship and recent rises in xenophobic events. It should be noted that citizen science has been called many things over the years: participatory science, crowd science, civic science, and community science are just a few examples. Instead of conjuring up thoughts of a divided political atmosphere with the term "citizen science", our organization has decided to make the switch to "community science", a term that inspires collaboration and inclusion, after all science is a team sport. 

By transitioning the Port Townsend Marine Science Center towards the use of “community science” we will be providing the public with a message of openness and belonging. We will be telling the public that we look forward to continuing to build community through science.


You too can take part in community science right now!
Check out these activities here.



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