International Workshop: (Un)taming Citizen Science – 4/12/2017 – KU Leuven

Workshop outline

We are presently witnessing a global explosion of citizen science initiatives covering a wide range of topics, from counting hummingbirds to actively researching new medical treatments, to the use of smartphones to measuring radioactivity in the environment. European policymakers and societal stakeholders hail citizen science as a means of (re)building trust in science, which may in turn lead to “more democratic research based on evidence and informed decision-making” and more responsible innovation (Sanz et al. 2014). Others see it as a means of enabling citizens to become researchers, advocates, or watchdogs of science, or to become their own sensors and create their own expertise and communities, distinct from established organizations and practices.

In this workshop, we explore these and related issues through the notion of ‘(un)taming,’ which refers to the mutual adjustment of technology and the social, and links to ‘domestication’ and domestication theory in science and technology studies (Latour, 1987; Callon, 1986; Williams et al. 2004). It allows us to highlight how citizen science is incorporated into science and other subsystems of society through a wide array of interrelated and unconnected mechanisms, programs and procedures, such as research and development processes, the fabrication of new technologies and systems (e.g. DIY technologies), science policy making, educational activities, science journalism, and contemporary art forms, among others. As these processes elicit both support and controversy, they evoke several significant questions as to how citizen science is changing the confines of science and citizenship in contemporary society:

  • Who and what is citizen science (not) for?
  • How is citizen science tamed, and why? Which citizen science forms are amenable to taming, which forms are not?
  • How is citizen science made public or politicized? How is it professionalized? How is it promoted, and to what effects?
  • How do citizen scientists engage with the above questions?
  • How will citizen science fare in the years ahead?



Callon, M. 1986. “Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St. Brieuc Bay”. In Power, action, and belief, Edited by: Law, J. 196–233. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Latour, B. 1987. Science in action: how to follow scientists and engineers through society. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Sanz, F.S. et al. 2014. EU White Paper on Citizen Science for Europe (White Paper);

Williams, R., Stewart, J, Slack, R. (2004). Social Learning in Technological Innovation, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.


Participation is free of charge but registration is required before 15 November. If you would like to join us in Leuven on 4 December, send an email confirming your registration to Michiel Van Oudheusden:

Workshop venue

Collegium Veteranorum (COVE) 02.10 Sint-Michielsstraat 2-4 3000 Leuven Building number: 109-20

How to get there:


10.00-10.30 – (Un)taming citizen science, Ine Van Hoyweghen (KU Leuven) and Michiel Van Oudheusden (KU Leuven, SCK-CEN)

10.30-11.15 – Engaging citizens in European research and innovation activities, Philippe Galiay (DG Research and Innovation, European Commission)

11.15-12.00 – Citizen science and its promotion at the European Commission level, Hadrien Macq (Université de Liège) and Elise Tancoigne (Université de Genève)

12.00-13.30 – Lunch

13.30-14.15 – Citizen Science as Communication in Japan, Yasuhito Abe (Doshisha University)

14.15-15.00 – Citizen science after Fukushima: an opportunity to learn, Joke Kenens (KU Leuven, SCK-CEN)

15.00-15.30 – Coffee break

15.30-16.15 – Popularizing citizen science in Flanders: science journalism with EOS, Liesbeth Gijsel (EOS Magazine)

16.15-16.30 – Taking up citizen science? Concluding thoughts, Gert Verschraegen (Universiteit Antwerpen)



(Picture courtesy of EOS Magazine 2017.)

Author: B.STS

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