Science Shop Leiden
The Science Shop set up by Leiden University has a strong focus on citizen science and consists of two approaches: One for the local community in the vicinity of the University (known as the Citizen Science Lab, CSLab) and one for communities that traditionally don’t have access to research capacity or facilities (known as Open Science Hubs, OSHubs) (see figure below).
The Citizen Science Lab brings together researchers, citizens and societal organisations to co-develop innovative research projects that create new knowledge. The OSHubs connect science, technology and innovation with the daily life of local and regional communities, by addressing community relevant challenges, in collaboration with multiple stakeholders. OSHub is a EU H2020-funded network with 9 partners across Europe aimed at establishing collaborative co-creation hubs, based on Open Standards, near social and/or geographical borders throughout Europe. OSHub-Portugal, inaugurated in July 2017, arose as the first hub of this network, in a partnership between Leiden University and the Municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo. The network will expand to 8 European countries (including the Netherlands) by 2022, as part of the EU-H2020 project.
The implementation of SciShops.eu by Leiden University is being done by the Astronomy & Society Group and Department of Science Communication and Society. In terms of coordination, the CSLab is managed by Liselotte Rambonnet and Matthijs Begheyn and supervised by Pedro Russo, Frans Snik, Anne Land-Zandstra and Margaret Gold. The OSHub-Portugal is managed by Maria Vicente and supervised by Pedro Russo.
The projects from the CSLab are mostly coordinated by project managers and researchers from the university or partners of the CSLab in close collaboration with students, citizens, the municipality and relevant organisations. The first pilot projects are funded by Leiden University and the Municipality of Leiden. Because these are part of the activities that Leiden University support to celebrate its 444 years of existence, together with the city.
OSHub-Portugal is composed of a team of project managers with scientific backgrounds, together with a team from the Municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo with diverse technical backgrounds. Each project manager leads a project but there are also projects co-led by all, and key decisions are made by the entire team. OSHub-Portugal has a direct relationship with the Mayor and works in strict collaboration with the school group of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo.
Activity to date
In 2019 the CSLab started a Community Based Participatory Research pilot project, supporting citizens and researchers who have a research question that can be answered with citizen science. For this, the CSLab asked the residents, researchers and societal organisations of Leiden and the Hague what questions they want to answer. In total, the Lab received over 50 questions from researchers, societal organisations and residents. A jury selected two projects (plastics and psychology), which are now being carried out. Read more about the competition in this news article.
In 2018, the Citizen Science Lab organised three workshops which brought together stakeholders on specific themes, namely air pollution; archaeology; and languages and cultures. During four to five days various stakeholders, policymakers, governmental and societal organisations and researchers developed ideas for citizen science projects to answer important questions in their field.
The Citizen Science Lab communicates about its activities and gets researchers, organisations and residents familiar with citizen science during various events and via (social) media. An example is Museum Night in Leiden held in May 2019, where the Citizen Science Lab ran a ‘Pop-up Citizen Science Lab and Science Shop’, together with researchers from the Natural History Museum and the Faculty of Archaeology in which visitors could participate in citizen science ‘on the spot’.
Currently, the Lab is working on establishing several partnerships. One is with Naturalis which is the Natural History Museum in Leiden, which has some experience of running citizen science projects. Another partner is a program called ‘Learning with the City’ in which Leiden University, the University of Applied Sciences in Leiden, and the Municipality of Leiden are involved. Within this programme, interns from the University of Applied Sciences will be present in local community centres to answer questions from residents, starting in September 2019. More complex questions will be shared with students from Leiden University who can work on these questions in a so-called ‘Studio.’ The Citizen Science Lab will support this process where possible and share experiences with the pilot project and the questions they received. More partnerships will be established during the following months to exchange knowledge and support community based participatory research initiatives. The Open Science Hubs have partnerships with local municipalities, schools, research institutes, museums, NGOs and other organisations.
Impact to date
Setting-up the science shop in Leiden has already resulted in a lot of impact. This includes local and national media coverage. Examples:
- Tackling local societal challenges through science
- Leidenaars kunnen eindelijk een antwoord krijgen op de vraag die zij altijd al wilden stellen: universiteit begint ’Citizen Science Lab’
- Hoe de wetenschap van burgers kan leren, en burgers van de wetenschap
- Plastic Spotter: spot plastic in the canals of Leiden
During the coming months the Lab will support scientists and citizens who want to set up citizen science projects. For the pilot project the Lab has enough funding, but for other ideas they will help the researchers to find funding. Also, the Lab is looking for long-term funding possibilities to support at least two project managers to continue the Citizen Science Lab.
As part of the new EU.Citizen-Science project, the Lab is currently also working on establishing a national network for citizen science to improve the exchange of knowledge on citizen science within the Netherlands.
The Open Science Hub is now establishing a wider network, and with funding from H2020 will start in October 2019 to implement the same open science approach in 7 other countries around Europe, where CBPR approaches will be used through Open Schooling.
Main contact: Pedro Russo, firstname.lastname@example.org