Citizen science and community empowerment in landfill monitoring

“We can be ethical only in relation to something we can
see, feel, understand, or otherwise have faith in.“
– Aldo Leopold

This quote could be properly interpreted within the zeitgeist of the corona pandemic. The invisibility of the virus makes it difficult for many people to follow scientifically informed precautions. It also shows that science has its limitations, and these limitations must be included and accepted in a societal discourse.

I therefore devoted my project to the question of how society could be empowered in the context of scientific research. I focused on „citizen science“ and the question of how we can achieve a democratization of knowledge. And also what role could I, as a designer, play in making our relationship with science more tangible,
accessible and understandable?

During my research, I came across the topic of historic landfills. Since little is done with Citizen Science in this area, I saw it as a potential focus for my project.

The idea for an engagement tool came from my motivation to highlight not only the negative aspects of landfills but also offer opportunities and solutions. I also wanted to make something fun, so I came up with a board game that highlights the different aspects of landfills for different stakeholders and how they are affected by them.

Based on the insight I got from Interviews, the Engagment tool and the ISOE Model for transdisciplinary research, I created my own framework, that a community could follow to empower Citizens in the research about historic landfills. I came up with the word “care” because I draw my inspiration from the “FACTS” example which is currently used to communicate health advices to the public during this pandemic. As this is a good way to make scientific related advices more accessible I used the word CARE to respresent the content of the following principles: CLUES, ACTION, RESPONSE and EVALUATION.

Engagement tool

Engagement Tool Game rules

Thematic analysis