University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Cabinet of Natural History > Building knowledge of the natural world: the historical and contemporary contributions of citizen science within the UK

Building knowledge of the natural world: the historical and contemporary contributions of citizen science within the UK

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Laura Brassington.

Since the 19th century, volunteer communities of amateur-expert naturalists have played a central role in generating scientific understanding of the UK’s natural environment, through observing and documenting the natural world. This long and illustrious tradition continues today, with much of our knowledge of the plant and animal species that occur in the UK deriving from the expertise and passion of these long-term networks of volunteer naturalists.

Set against this continuity, the first part of the 21st century has seen a rapid expansion of the broader field of citizen science. Driven by the emergence of digital technologies, pressing scientific need and rising public interest, citizen science has increased in profile and prominence to become a popular pastime and a distinct academic field. Each year, over a million people from across the UK contribute their time, expertise and enthusiasm to an ever growing diversity of research projects relating to the UK’s wildlife and environment. For many contributors, this involvement represents their first direct experience of the process of science.

In this talk I will consider the changing landscape of citizen science and highlight some of the opportunities and challenges that this is presenting for both the field of science and the citizen scientists themselves.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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