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How do citizen science volunteers interpret “trust in science”? A case study of Lake Partner Program participants

Social scientists contend that a “Science Crisis” acts as a barrier to mobilizing public support for scientific research. This crisis is described by a variety of factors, such as: a declining trust in scientific institutions and the evidence produced by scientists; a hostility towards the idea of expertise; a rejection of scientists as legitimate and unbiased spokespeople for environmental issues; the rise of “alternative facts”; and a turn towards prioritizing internal, subjective “gut feelings” over scientific evidence.  Citizen science provides experiential learning about scientific methods and establishes dialogues between scientists and citizens, which could lead to increasing public trust in science. Yet, few studies have investigated whether participating in citizen science corresponds with trust in science.  The objectives of this study are to conduct open-ended interviews with volunteers in a lake monitoring program in Ontario, Canada, to gain a richer understanding of what sustains participation in a freshwater, citizen science based, monitoring program over a long period of time. This study is part of a co-created research project led by Edward Millar, PhD candidate, Ryerson University, and involving Terry Rees (Federation of Ontario Cottagers Association). Our study was motivated by conversations among limnologists, environmental managers, and citizen science practitioners at the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON21) conference in Muskoka, Ontario in 2019.     

2019-11-07 to 2021-12-31
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