Citizen Science & Libraries

I think it would be *great* fun to develop an upper level undergraduate course that spans three disciplines/topics:

  1. Some science discipline (or interdisciplinary science course – like the one I taught, Global Change)
  2. Information literacy
  3. Citizen science

Wouldn’t it be a cool “upper level” library course to follow something like the Digital Research course offered at the UM Library?  Perhaps this course is something a science librarian could develop, in conjunction with a professor or two, that could be housed at the library.  Students could pick a citizen science project to research and contribute to (e.g. eBird, Project BudBurst, CitizenSky, or they could find one that interests them at SciStarter) and write up a reflection on their experience or proposal for a new citizen science site or research paper based on the class dataset.

On the library side, librarians could use this as an opportunity to give students a deeper look into the world of subject-specific databases.  Embedded throughout the course could be discussions around the resources students are finding on the topic of their citizen science project.  Do we trust these resources?  Who wrote them?  Do we believe their conclusions?  Would we need more data to assess their hypotheses?

I think this kind of course could interest a range of students in different disciplines, connect them to the science in a new way.  Undergraduate science majors, science education majors, science policy students and others could gain something from such a course.  Students could get a taste of some specific topic, the research process, evaluation and critique of resources, and writing or presenting what they’ve learned.

After doing a bit of searching, I haven’t found this kind of course out there – but if anyone knows of one, do let me know!


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