Inspiring Practice Project

Citizens create knowledge (BürGEr schaffen WISSen, GEWISS)

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 01 November 2015
Last modified on 15 March 2016

GEWISS promotes citizen science in Germany by networking existing projects and initiatives and facilitating discussion on the possibilities of this approach between practitioners, scientific institutions, funders, policymakers, civil society organisations and interested citizens. GEWISS aims to develop citizen science methodologically, strategically and practically through building networks, analysing current activities and needs, creating a toolkit to promote activities and quality, producing technical and organisational resources, and developing a strategy for the future.

Stakeholders with targeted experience and expertise lead workshops on key issues related to citizen science. The project works to ensure gender balance in keynote speakers and workshop leaders, and reimburses travel costs to encourage participation of volunteer actors. 

The online platform invites project initiators to share experiences and identify new projects, and encourages citizen participation, regardless of social, gender or ethnic background. Active methods such as world cafés, interactive workshops and project fairs promote input from all participants

The project aims to build trust between citizens, stakeholders and scientists. Stakeholder groups have access to goals, procedures, expectations, progress and research data through the GEWISS online platform. Results of events are available online through the project website and are archived with the German National Library. Information tailored to the public or specific stakeholder groups is disseminated through activities and academic and lay publications.
The advisory board plays a key role in anticipating and discussing possible consequences. As the project team has worked to build a definition of citizen science that includes all different perspectives and is sensitive to several areas of contention, potential areas of concern as well as opportunities and barriers have been discussed in world café–style events.
World cafés and interactive workshops allow different stakeholders to discuss their ideas and perspectives. As attendance can be difficult for some, the project has responded by organising a series of webinars and holding events at times and locations that are more convenient for attendees. The project is also discussing ways of addressing external factors such as distrust between scientific institutions and societal actors and difficulties in obtaining funding for citizen science projects.
Development, Implementation
Discussions (through events and the online platform) are taking place and the project has begun development of the Citizen Science Strategy 2020 for Germany and a practical resource toolbox for citizen science practitioners. The project is also completing analysis of a public survey on citizens’ attitudes and needs related to citizen science. Additional outcomes are not yet available.
The development of strategic and practical tools within the citizen science community can open new opportunities for good practices. Building cooperation between different actors may help reduce distrust and increase acceptance of citizen science as a desirable addition to traditional science and build a stronger coalition of partners in the area of participatory research.
  • Museum für Naturkunde Berlin – Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Research
  • German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research
  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research 
  • Science in Dialogue (Wissenschaft im Dialog gGmbH)
Dr. Lisa Pettibone  
GEWISS Project Coordinator  
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin  
Berlin , Germany

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