"Connect.Collaborate.Create." Conference successfully completed!

29. Nov 2023

A joint event organised by the PRO-Ethics and COESO Projects.

From 19 to 21 October 2023, over 170 participants from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the USA came together in Paris at the Condorcet Campus and the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (MSH) Paris Nord. In 3 keynotes, 2 plenary panels, 27 parallel sessions and a poster session with 16 posters, new connections were made and exciting insights into ethical and participatory approaches in the field of citizen science and participatory research, especially in the Social Sciences and Humanities, as well as into participatory approaches in research funding were gained.

The conference was designed as an innovative, participatory format, influenced by "that camps" and "unconferences". This approach enables collaboration and exchange among participants as early as the planning stage of a conference. In order to cover the interests of different stakeholder groups, a collaborative space for exploration and experimentation was created, which included traditional formats as well as creative and interactive workshops and networking sessions. At the beginning, interested parties were encouraged to submit thematically appropriate ideas in order to then connect people with similar thematic focuses for the planning of sessions – regardless of whether they already knew each other. The joint design of formats required an initial dialogue between participants as well as a willingness to engage with new ideas and bring together different perspectives to develop more holistic approaches. As the title promised, bridges were built between different topics, fields and stakeholders who actively contributed to shaping the future of Citizen Science and Participatory Research. This aspect was decisive in terms of content - bringing together stakeholders and topics that might otherwise not have found each other.

The conference focused on three predefined themes, each of which were touched on throughout each day. The first theme focussed on how Citizen Science/Participatory Research can be supported and facilitated. Networks and infrastructures were presented, and the concept of "Careful Infrastructuring" was discussed. Various stakeholders were part of the conversation, including representatives of research infrastructures, libraries, citizen science platforms and networks as well as research funding organisations and civil society organisations such as NGOs. Support services for Participatory Research also played a role, ranging from local community involvement to experimental formats, or the VERA platform developed in the COESO project.

The second theme focussed on the implementation of projects in the field of Citizen Science/Participatory Research and methodologies. How can Citizen Science be teached and be done? Many practical examples presented work processes and formats during the sessions, as well as what can emerge as output from a Citizen Science project. Topics such as co-creation, data justice and in particular, ethical participatory approaches in research and within the funding agencies, including the PRO-Ethics Framework developed in the PRO-Ethics project, political engagement and mutual learning were discussed. This led to especially lively conversations regarding the future of Citizen Science and Participatory Research.

The third theme of the  conference focussed on the evaluation and assessment processes of Citizen Science and Participatory Research. Concrete projects, including the pilot projects of COESO and PRO-Ethics, contributed to the programme, in performance-active to discussion-oriented formats.  Furthermore, the participation of vulnerable groups and children in Citizen Science projects and also other innovative formats were given space.

The conference created an inspiring space for exchange, perceived by participants as stimulating and highly valuable. In particular, the diverse mix of stakeholders facilitated a wide range of discussions, opening new perspectives for future collaborations. Successfully, the conference achieved its goal of promoting closer collaboration between practitioners of Participatory Engagement, Citizen Science and their supporters.

The detailed conference programme, and visual impressions of the conference can still be found on the website. Videos of the keynotes and some panels are available on the OPERAS YouTube channel. The conference report will be published on ZENODO in December.


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