Keywords

participatory modelling; citizen science; fuzzy-logic cognitive mapping; public participation in scientific research.

Location

Session F3: Modeling with Stakeholders: Old Problems, New Solutions

Start Date

17-6-2014 2:00 PM

End Date

17-6-2014 3:20 PM

Abstract

Although model-based reasoning is often at the center of environmental science and management, the process of constructing, refining and empirically validating scientific models is not often made explicit to participants in many citizen science programs. The lack of attention that modeling receives in citizen science programs is likely attributable to resource constraints, given that scientific modeling often requires considerable training and scientific software tools are not easily accessible to members of the general public. To address these constraints, we describe the development and use of a fuzzy-logic cognitive mapping software called Mental Modeler (http://www.mentalmodeler.org/), embedded within a citizen science web portal (www.citsci.org) and curriculum that allows scientists, environmental managers, and citizen scientists to: (1) collaboratively define environmental issues of shared concern, (2) model and represent assumptions, evidence, and existing information about these issues, (3) run scenarios to discuss potential research or management options, and ultimately (4) co-develop citizen science research and environmental management plans with science professionals. Our program uses an adaptive management framework to facilitate discussion between project managers and volunteers on: the current and desired state of the natural resource system being managed; their plan for a management action; project implementation; and evaluation and communication of results. Using data collected from one community group who worked with professional scientists and land managers on a local project in Virginia as a case study, we outline the architecture of the modeling software, describe participant interaction with the modeling tool and website, and review the project generated.

 
Jun 17th, 2:00 PM Jun 17th, 3:20 PM

Modeling with citizen scientists: Using community- based modeling tools to develop citizen science projects

Session F3: Modeling with Stakeholders: Old Problems, New Solutions

Although model-based reasoning is often at the center of environmental science and management, the process of constructing, refining and empirically validating scientific models is not often made explicit to participants in many citizen science programs. The lack of attention that modeling receives in citizen science programs is likely attributable to resource constraints, given that scientific modeling often requires considerable training and scientific software tools are not easily accessible to members of the general public. To address these constraints, we describe the development and use of a fuzzy-logic cognitive mapping software called Mental Modeler (http://www.mentalmodeler.org/), embedded within a citizen science web portal (www.citsci.org) and curriculum that allows scientists, environmental managers, and citizen scientists to: (1) collaboratively define environmental issues of shared concern, (2) model and represent assumptions, evidence, and existing information about these issues, (3) run scenarios to discuss potential research or management options, and ultimately (4) co-develop citizen science research and environmental management plans with science professionals. Our program uses an adaptive management framework to facilitate discussion between project managers and volunteers on: the current and desired state of the natural resource system being managed; their plan for a management action; project implementation; and evaluation and communication of results. Using data collected from one community group who worked with professional scientists and land managers on a local project in Virginia as a case study, we outline the architecture of the modeling software, describe participant interaction with the modeling tool and website, and review the project generated.