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Citizen science for the food system

This book chapter argues that, although currently focused mainly on health and food production, citizen science has the potential to help address a much broader range of challenges related to food and agriculture.

Sarah West, Rachel Pateman / Published on 1 June 2021

Reynolds, C., Oakden, L., West, S., Pateman, R., Elliot, C., Armstrong, B., Gillespie, R. and Patel, M. (2021) Citizen science for the food system. In Future directions for citizen science and public policy. Cohen, K. and Robert Doubleday, R. (eds). Centre for Science and Policy, Cambridge. 55-59.

This chapter uses qualitative case studies as well as literature reviews to research the relevance, benefits and challenges of citizen science as a method to inform food policy.

It argues that citizen science can help with food policy development and delivery, including:

  • Monitoring and quantifying issues
  • Building understanding of issues
  • Educating and communicating
  • Leading to action – by the individual (encouraging deep learning, agency), and by decision makers (drawing on evidence collected through citizen science).

While some policy actors already make use of citizen science, the authors argue that there is room for expansion in both project scope and numbers and types of participants involved. They conclude that making more use of citizen science approaches in food policy research can help the transition toward a more equitable and sustainable food and agriculture system.

The book Future Directions for Citizen Science and Public Policy

Through a series of seminars, lectures and online conferences the Centre for Science and Policy have gathered a breadth of views on the challenges and opportunities that governments face in integrating citizen science into public policy. This book illuminates how citizen science can lead to more inclusive and effective decision making across a range of policy domains.

SEI authors

Sarah West

Centre Director

SEI York

Rachel Pateman


SEI York

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