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  • GROW Observatory

Citizen Science: From Data to Action

Join us to discover how citizen-generated data on soils, food and a changing climate can create positive change in the world.

1,112 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours
  • Digital upgrade


How can citizen science create positive change in the world? Join this online course to discover soil and food growing data and results generated by citizen scientists like you who are collaborating with the GROW Observatory. Become familiar with datasets, learn to identify patterns, errors and insights that can create change from the local to the global.

You will explore the potential of art to communicate complex scientific data and concepts and become one of the first to experience the work of GROW’s artist in residence.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds SPEAKER 1: We are facing serious environmental challenges and the increasing impacts of a changing climate.

Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds You can be part of the solution by joining the GROW Observatory, in which thousands of people are collaborating to observe and care for the environment. Amongst the problems we’re exploring are soil degradation and the impact of a changing climate, both affected by unsustainable food growing methods. Through GROW, you will connect with a community of growers small scale farmers, scientists, and policymakers who are all working together to help address these challenges and learn from each other. Our shared vision as to support and build sustainable custodianship of the land and soil across Europe. You can be one of our citizen scientists, helping inform international policy decisions on land use, soil management, and climate change.

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 seconds As well as supporting growers in different countries to share, discover, and test sustainable soil stewardship and growing practises. Join the data to action course to find out how to investigate, enjoy, and act on open data from the GROW Observatory, generated by people passionate about soil, science, and food growing. Discover how to collect and handle data on your local environment and growing plot, and how to use those data to inform your growing practise, and to interpret data to take action under a changing climate. During the course, you will be given access to exemplar data sets generated by Grow citizen scientists, and you will find out about the results of a GROW polyculture experiment.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds These data and observations can help to inform your own food growing and improve yields, and will give you insights about how to make a positive impact on the environment around you. How can growers and scientists collaborate to discover better ways to grow and care for the land, and contribute to understanding the global climates? How can we move from data to discoveries, and from discoveries to positive action on soils, food, and a changing climate?

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 seconds Sign up for the Citizen Science: From Data to Action online course and join a community of soil champions.

What topics will you cover?

  • Overview of different sources of citizen science generated datasets in the GROW Observatory including soil sensor data.
  • Analysis of results submitted by GROW participants over the growing season to investigate the effectiveness of a polyculture vs monoculture experiment.
  • Identifying trends and patterns in datasets as well as reflecting on the different insights you can gain from individual and collective experiment results.
  • The role and potential of art in communicating complex scientific concepts and data.
  • Creating positive change through citizen science: from the local to the global.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore methods for analysing data from growing sites collected by growers like you.
  • Engage in activities using citizen generated data to identify patterns and errors in soil and food growing data.
  • Describe key research principles and their importance in designing and analysing robust citizen science experiments for your growing site and your community.
  • Design strategies for moving from insights from datasets to positive change making.
  • Identify the level of change citizen science experiments can generate in local, national and international spheres, including participatory governance channels.
  • Explore the role and potential of art in communicating complex scientific concepts and data.

Who is the course for?

This course is for you if you are interested in any of the following subjects: soil, food growing, agriculture, ecosystems and the environment, technology, earth observation, sensors, environmental governance. Participants won’t need any prior experience but it might be of particular relevance to small farmers, community and urban growers, gardeners, land managers, allotment growers, fab lab users, environmental NGOs, people interested in food production and citizen science, as well as teachers in science and environment-related subjects.

Who will you learn with?

Mel is Professor in Creative Intelligence at University of Dundee. Her research focuses on designing to support people with future technologies, societal and environmental challenges and change-making

I am a plant ecologist with a passion for plant communities, which I enjoy applying to food growing. I work as a Senior Researcher in Agroecology at the Permaculture Association (Britain).

I'm a research scholar at IIASA, interested in participatory approaches to science and understanding systems, currently playing serious games and working on several EU citizen science projects.

I am a Researcher at University of Dundee working on the H2020 WeObserve Project. My research interests include food policy, sustainable food systems, food & farming cooperatives and agroecology.

I am a geographer and soil scientist. Fascinated with the complex interdependence of landscape elements. Mapping, field work, data generation and interpretation are the fields I am most interested in.

I work as a citizen science researcher at the James Hutton Institute. I enjoy growing and carrying out experiments on my small allotment plot. My future ambition is to research environmental hazards.

Who developed the course?

University of Dundee

The University of Dundee is one of the world’s Top 200 universities and was named Scottish University of the Year for both 2016 and 2017. Dundee offers one of the UK’s best student experiences.

GROW Observatory

GROW engages thousands of growers, scientists and others passionate about the land to learn about soils and growing food, while contributing to vital scientific environmental monitoring.

What's included?

University of Dundee are offering everyone who joins this course a free digital upgrade, so that you can experience the full benefits of studying online for free. This means that you get:

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • A PDF Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you’re eligible
  • Learning on FutureLearn

    Your learning, your rules

    • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
    • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
    • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

    Join a global classroom

    • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
    • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
    • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

    Map your progress

    • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
    • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
    • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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