Online course in Science, Engineering & Maths

Citizen Science Projects: How to Make a Difference

Discover how to build your own citizen science project to address environmental issues and create positive change.

  • Duration 4 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $44 Find out more

Learn to capture and analyse data and use the findings to take action

Would you like to understand the environment and help create change? A citizen science project or observatory is the ideal way to explore environmental issues, take action and become a changemaker.

On this course, you’ll discover the type of citizen science projects available around the world and how to get involved. You’ll find out how to lead a citizen science project, including the best practices for community building, question forming and data collecting.

You’ll also learn how to interpret the data you collect and use your findings to educate others about environmental concerns.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 35 secondsSPEAKER 1: What can I do? [CELL PHONE CHIMES]

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds[DIGITAL NOTIFICATION SOUNDS] What can I do? [CELL PHONE CHIMES] (SHOUTING) What can I do? What can I do? What can I do? What can I do? What can I do? What can I do?


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Skip to 1 minute and 18 secondsWhat can we do?

Skip to 1 minute and 26 secondsSign up for the course to learn how we can come together, gather data and take action for the environment. WeObserve is creating an ecosystem of citizen observatories that can address environmental challenges and help to move citizen science into the mainstream

What topics will you cover?

  • Understanding the issue or problem: exploring environmental issues and deciding on a research focus.
  • Creating a community: finding the people who are brought together by a shared concern and positively nurturing the sharing of ideas and experiences.
  • Deciding what data to collect: using the research question(s) to select what information will be gathered.
  • Capturing or generating the data: collecting the information, keeping motivated and engaged.
  • Analysing the data: interpreting the data, being able to spot trends and anomalies.
  • Disseminating results: using the findings from the data to communicate with others about the environmental concern.
  • Change-making / planning action: using the findings to lobby for change, or plan an intervention or action to inform others about the environmental concern.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

What will you achieve?

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

  • Investigate what citizen science and citizen observatories are.
  • Explore what project are available, what they do and how to get involved.
  • Engage with the general process of a citizen science project, they tools used and where to find them.
  • Model the steps to create your own citizen science project.
  • Collect and discuss simple environmental datasets
  • Evaluate the potential of citizen science in bringing about change.

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in citizen science and citizen observatories, and learning about how to design a citizen science project.

Who will you learn with?

Mel Woods

Mel Woods

Mel is Reader 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.

Dr Saskia Coulson

Dr Saskia Coulson

I am a Research Fellow at the University of Dundee, where I have worked on several European-wide citizen science projects. I'm interested in projects where people feel empowered to make a change.

Gerid Hager

Gerid Hager

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.

Margaret Gold

Margaret Gold

I work at the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) as a Project Officer in the WeObserve, LandSense, and EU-Citizen.Science projects.

Who developed the course?

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.

WeObserve is an H2020 Coordination and Support Action (CSA) which tackles three key challenges that Citizens Observatories (COs) face: awareness, acceptability and sustainability.

Join this course

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  • Access to this course for 6 weeks


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  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
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Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.
Available until 31 October 2019. T&Cs apply.