On April 2, we officially launched the EnviroCitizen project, bringing together researchers from seven European countries. We were supposed to all be in Stavanger, in the university board room overlooking campus. Instead, most of us were sitting at home, looking at each other on a computer screen. Like so many other events in the wake of Covid-19, we met virtually through a Zoom meeting.
Over the next 42 months, we will study how engagement in birding-related citizen science projects can make the participants into better environmental citizens. Supported by the European Horizon 2020 funding scheme, we bring together scholars from history, literature, anthropology, STS, education, biology, and ecology in order to gain a deeper understanding of the formation of environmental values and action.
These are certainly interesting times to be launching a citizen science project of this type, where both we and the people we study and work with face new challenges. We all have to seek new forms of togetherness and find new ways to strengthen connections and communities at a distance, often through digital media. We don’t know how soon the situation will return to “normal”, assuming it ever does. These are times that cry out for engagement and citizenship.
As people are sheltering in their homes, nature experiences become even more valuable sources of such engagement. We see reports from across the world how backyard birding is becoming ever more popular. Confined to our homes, we observe the nature we can find right outside. Feeders attract birds to our backyards where we can watch them. The possibility for home birding to build and strengthen environmental citizenship has never been more relevant.
Over the next few months, we will be presenting the research teams and share our plans and initial research. Follow our research here on this website, on Facebook, or on Twitter over the next years to get regular updates on our research.
Finn Arne Jørgensen
EnviroCitizen Project Coordinator
Professor of Environmental History, University of Stavanger