With this community’s strong focus on equity I’d been thinking about whether it might be helpful to start a thread about differences in opportunity for our institution- v.s. community-based folks. What triggered it for me was thoughts about the 2018 ECSA conference, as mentioned by Jenny at the end of last year.
The last (first) edition of this conference was in Berlin in 2016. It was set up like a classic academic conference with high registration fees (around €300), excluding most non-institutional people. I was recently freelance (read: unemployed) at the time and (very naively and unpaid – I will not make that mistake again) agreed to work on some content to connect the conference with at least the local diy community. I argued for a low ticket price for non-academics, but in the end could only get them to open up for the last day of the event and the evening before for specific sessions, whilst a lot of the other content could have been very interesting to non-academics.
Despite quite some push-back in 2016 from the few diy community folks who had managed to join and even regular attendees about how the conference was inaccessible to non-academics, they have taken the same approach to the event concept for this year: high registration fees only, no support to cover travel and accommodation costs, and scheduled during the working week. As an organisation, ECSA claims to represent ‘diy approaches’ and there are a few mentions of grassroots citizen science in the guidelines for the call for proposals [pdf], but I can only assume that this an invitation to STS researchers rather than the practitioners themselves.
I don’t want to presume too much about their personal views, but the organisers effectively work with a very top-down definition of citizen science, targeting ‘professional’ academic citizen science practitioners as their main audience. Non-institutional folks are typically talked about in rather paternalistic terms as volunteers or hobbyists for crowdsourcing projects who need to be recruited and kept motivated.
With all that in mind, I don’t just want to be critical… I think it makes sense to try and work with these organisations to help them find a more equitable approach. Presenting the GOSH roadmap should definitely be part of that. I’m just concerned that they seem to be very slow to change and that more non-institutional folks will be exploited in the process. I wonder if there’s a way the GOSH community, out of solidarity for it’s non-institutional members, could use its platform to advocate more effectively for this change.
Or maybe it’s just me Curious what you think about this… Perhaps the same issues also apply to other events or situations…