Citizen Science on the Web

  • Online
  • For Certification
Starts the week of

March 2 - 6

Course ends on

April 25, 2015

Application Deadline

February 25, 2015

Passionate about citizen science?

  • Are you interested in tackling a scientific or environmental problem by engaging a wider public in tasks such as data gathering, measurement or other activities to aid in the execution of a science project?
  • Do you need to know how to target specific kinds of participants with the right know how?
  • Do you view citizens as scientists in their own right and want to support more people “doing science,” whether for educational or public policy purposes, in their own communities?
  • Is your citizen science project underway but needs to scale and attract more participants? Create more effective metrics?

Course Description

The notion that ordinary citizens with a strong interest in science – call them amateurs, enthusiasts, aficionados or even cheerleaders – can participate actively in cutting-edge science via the Web is no longer controversial. Galaxy Zoo (cataloguing galaxy images) and Foldit (folding proteins) are poster children for the citizen cyberscience movement. Perhaps even more intriguing are a number of smaller, less well-known projects like PrimeGrid (searching for new prime numbers) and Herbaria@home (digitizing archived historical plant clippings), where an amateur created a project, which is producing data professional scientists want to get their hands on. The right participant in this program knows civic problem they are trying to solve through the application of citizen science and has a citizen science project already in mind, if not already underway. Through peer to peer coaching and mentoring, the objective of this program is to help and encourage participants to develop more effective, scalable, and impactful citizen science projects. A particular preference for projects involving data collection and analysis, using the Web and mobile technologies.

Course Format

1 faculty-led session every other week for 2 hours (one hour is with a guest expert and one hour is an all-group session); and a personalized schedule of peer-to-peer and one-on-one coaching sessions. Optional: one student per team may participate in person in a data dive in Geneva during the week of 14-21 March (spring break at NYU), together with students from CUSP.

Course Duration: 8 weeks

More information


Faculty Members

Francois Grey

Coordinator of the Citizen Cyberscience Centre

Francois Grey is a physicist by training, with a background in nanotechnology and a passion for citizen science. Since September 2014, he is Invited Professor at the University of Geneva and Manager of the Citizen Cyberscience Centre, a partnership between CERN, the United Nations Institute of Training and Research and the University of Geneva.
The CCC develops technologies that lower the barrier to entry for online participatory science and promotes the use of these technologies in developing regions through face-to-face meetups between scientists, developers and citizens. The CCC has helped to launch citizen science projects such as CERN’s Test4Theory, which is part of the LHC@home volunteer computing initiative, and open source platforms for citizen science like, for volunteer thinking. Events launched by the CCC include the Africa@Home, Asia@home and Brasil@home workshops series, the CERN Webfest and the biannual Citizen Cyberscience Summit.
From 2013-2014 Francois was Head of Citizen Science at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, where he launched the Science and the City hackathons in collaboration with ITP, NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and Science Hack Day NYC in collaboration with the World Science Festival.
Francois was based in Beijing from 2008-2013, where he helped establish the Open Wisdom Lab at Tsinghua University, China’s MIT, to promote concepts of open and participatory science. He also helped establish Tsinghua’s Lifelong Learning Lab, which extends concepts of participatory science to children of all ages. He has also been a visiting Senior International Expert with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where he initiated online citizen science in China through a project called CAS@home. Francois received a prestigious Fellowship from the South-Africa-based Shuttleworth Foundation in 2010-11, for his efforts to promote citizen science in the developing world.

Liz Barry

Co-founder & Director of Community Development at the Public Lab

Liz is an activist and designer interested in collaborative urban environments. My early days in New York involved catalyzing public interactions on sidewalks and subway stations with a giant "Talk To Me" sign as well as working 25 floors above Wall Street (SOM) designing international new cities and campuses. I'm originally from North Carolina where I managed an urban agriculture youth enterprise called the Durham Inner-city Gardeners (DIG). Currently, when I'm not hoisting cameras up on balloons (with Public Laboratory) or hugging trees with tape measures (with TreeKIT), I teach geospatial tools for urban design at Columbia, Parsons, and Pratt.

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