Two joint projects coordinated by TU Berlin are among 15 new citizen science projects selected by a committee consisting of scientists and members of the public for funding by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). A total of nine million euros is available for a period of approximately four years.
TU Berlin’s citizen science project “My thing – I am what I (don’t) have” examines which of our possessions we really need and which we can do without, albeit reluctantly. The second TU project “Wohnqualität – researching the living environment quality of large housing complexes with children and youths” explores the positives and difficulties of life in large housing complexes in the Neu-Hohenschönhausen district of Berlin from the perspective of young people.
Our homes are becoming increasingly filled with a range of consumer goods. TU Berlin coordinates this joint project together with ConPolicy – institute for Consumer Policy Co2online, Life e.V., Future Fashion Forward e.V., and the consumer protection organization Verbraucherzentrale Berlin. Within the project, citizen scientists try to find out which items they personally can live without. In a second phase, they invite people around them to join in and also give it a try. Reflecting on and then reducing possessions in this way is intended to demonstrate how a level of consumption can be achieved which is sufficient without creating an unpleasant sense of having to do without.
The increasing demand for housing in Berlin has led to a rapid increase in new buildings. Residential areas are becoming ever denser. After a long period of criticism, large residential complexes are reemerging as a solution to the housing question. “We want to make a contribution to ensuring that residential developments are planned and built to provide for the wellbeing of future residents,” explains Professor Dr. Kristin Wellner, dean of Faculty VI - Planning Building Environment at TU Berlin. Professor Jörg Stollmann of the Chair for Urban Design and Urbanization at TU Berlin adds: “Our living environment is a natural element of our lives and one which we often don’t think about. Many people are not aware of whether they feel well and if not, why not. In our project, we spend time with children and youths in their living environments and immerse ourselves in their daily lives. Time and again during this process, something strikes them that they would not wish to be without.” These indicators of perceived quality of life are recorded by researchers from TU Berlin working together with their cooperation partners, who include Kompetenzzentrum Großsiedlungen e.V., der Verein für aktive Vielfalt e.V., the Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing and the urban culture foundation of the HOWOGE housing association. Together, they seek to identify the criteria which need to be taken into consideration in urban planning and housing construction.
The eleven members of the selection committee chaired by Professor Ortwin Renn, scientific director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), included both scientists and actors from civil society.
Citizen science involves members of the public contributing their experience and their everyday expertise. This direct input enables researchers to understand the challenges faced by society as well as its wishes and needs. At the same time, this process of knowledge exchange enables the public to be personally involved in research by providing people with direct contact to an area they often only experience as an abstract phenomenon.
From 6 until 8 May 2021, TU Berlin will be hosting the (digital) Forum Citizen Science. Jointly organized with the “Bürger schaffen Wissen” platform funded by Wissenschaft im Dialog and the Natural History Museum Berlin, the forum addresses the question: “Trust, impact, transformation: Citizen science as a driver of change?”
“The forum will provide a space for thought and reflection on self-critical questions,” explains Dr. Audrey-Catherine Podann. “Does citizen science harness the potential to develop trust between knowledge creators with different areas of expertise? What impact has citizen science had in recent years in science, politics and society? How can this impact be measured? Which transformations can citizen science bring about? Where are there new areas for citizen science and where is this approach already well established?”
Project initiators, science communicators, social and political actors, as well as citizen scientists are invited to attend and take advantage of this opportunity to discuss and network