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Lab 1: Venice – “Citizen Science for Marine Conservation”

By: Prof. Luca Corazzini, at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy Secretary Debora Ferro, Ca’ Foscari International College

Major outcomes from group projects

At the end of the lab, during the co-creation phase, participants were divided in five groups, each working on designing and prototyping a project upon the four keywords mentioned above. In the following text, you can read the abstracts from each of these projects.

Project of group 1: GiOlivi

Abstract. Recycling wastes in Venice is an open issue, in particular thinking about the large touristic flows visiting the lagoon for few days. In light of citizen science, the aim of the project is twofold: on the one hand, it will involve all people in Venice (locals and visitors) in recycling plastic bottles and, on the other hand, make them contribute to geolocalised data about pollution in the Venetian lagoon. To pursue these goals, the “GiOlivi” app will be developed.

Through the app, people will be incentivized (through either monetary amounts or gadgets) to collect plastic battles in ad-hoc collection machines distributed in the key touristic points in Venice. In addition, a second function will allow people to upload pictures of polluted sites found through their trip around the city.

The motivating principles behind the projects are:

  1. visitors can be a resource for Venice,
  2. recycling can be promoted by gamification and incentives,
  3. nudges process can trigger social proof imitation over time.

The project will have a finite delivery and implementation period of four years: the nudge factor will elongate the effect of the action. It will be delivered in three phases: local Venetian schools and communities and university, wider city and regional/national area, and international tourists. We expect to work with universities, city, local businesses (supermarkets), creators of recycled products, creative industries, sponsors.

Project of group 2: Catchy

Abstract. Find negotiated solutions for a balanced nature-human use in the Venice Lagoon in a respectful way for all stakeholders involved so they all feel as a part of the process and those solutions. Due to all different perspectives those solutions are missing. Awareness and sensibility about the nature-human interaction is needed to find solutions and to become ready for change. In addition, a critical mass is needed.

Venice’s students form a critical mass (N=30.000) and may be strong change agents, however there are doubts about their awareness of the nature-human challenges in Venice Lagoon. Venice’ students can help to find solutions as they are part of daily live in Venice, have a broad network and may stay in Venice. In co-creation scientists and students of the student-parliaments designed a participation-action research, conducted surveys and collected student weekly diaries to get insights in the current awareness among students.

Based on those results we create online lectures, site-visits and face-to-face panels with all stakeholders involved. These panels are the start for a coordinated process between all stakeholders in order to respectfully conversate, find common negotiated solutions and act upon those. Students may be the main facilitators of this process.

Project of group 3: Ecocentric engineering. From short-term to long-term measures for the socio-ecological system by raising citizens’ and politicians’ awareness in the Venice Lagoon: A participatory action research

Abstract. Due to the anthropocentric worldview the global socio-ecological system is getting out of balance. To restore the balance, it is necessary to shift to an ecocentric paradigm. The main aim of this participatory action research is to contribute to that through raising awareness among citizens and policy makers and empowering them to codesign more ecocentric measures. The Lagoon of Venice is a suitable region to see and learn about the complexity human-nature interaction.

The aims are: i. Participants understand socio-ecological dynamics and the necessity of long-term planning by guided visits of a nature reserve and a built environment in the Lagoon; ii. Participants reflect and discuss on long-term and short-term vision and explore the ecocentric perspective on the Lagoon; iii. Participants codesign a 3D Map of potential small and interconnected interventions, that will improve the socio-ecological system of the Lagoon; this map can then serve as a basis for policy level discussions.

A questionnaire at the beginning and the end provides a better understanding of the impact of this research for the paradigm shift leading to sustainable ecological management. This will be used to improve the methodology of the action research.

Project of group 4: lEttinGO- a transformative learning pathway to a new self

Abstract. Currently, most of us think from an egoistic perspective: Why is it important for us as humans to have innovative developments on citizen science? How can we transform our skills/talents and knowledge into solutions? How can we help and make the world a better place for us? We must change this eGo-perspective into an eCo-perspective, seeing human as equal part of the rest of the eCo-system, not above it.

The social skillset already obtained in the eGo-system is not sufficient to move forward with as it limits our worldview centred-around only the human species. The consequences of perpetuating the current anthropocentric view will just continue mankind’s destruction of nature, all species’ basis of life, and continue to estrange us from it. We will start from Zigler’s model of the social Self (1974) as the basis of our framework for the process of how to move from eGo to eCo, and from the eCo-system self.

The goal of our proposed model is to change behaviours, aptitudes/skills/talents, attitudes, and values stagewise. Through this process we will be more responsive to discover a new eCo-system self and obtain it by re-learning in a transformative way. Citizen science (CS) engages even the layperson to contribute to a particular project. Scientists and grass-root volunteers will form an interdisciplinary team engaged in transdisciplinary holistic approaches of complexity. We will do this by looking to the Lagoon and propose that a change in perspective and awareness will enhance our willingness to engage in enforcing a symbiotic relationship with the rest of the ecosystem.

Project of group 5: TrashGram

Abstract. This project is seeking for a solution that will reduce the trash (garbage, waste, rubbish and similar) on the beaches. In the project, we are using Ca’Roman as a case study area because of the uniqueness of plant association, bird species and the potential place for turtles to lay eggs. Although it is valuable from an ecological and biodiversity point of view, this island is threatened by dangers such as large amounts of garbage and harassment of species by humans.

Our project is trying to tackle these problems, with the help of an interaction between science and society on Ca’Roman, – citizen science. In a collaborative manner, the locals and visitors from Ca’Roman (students, volunteers, tourists, elder residents), and scientists will develop Trash-E, (a robot) which will be able to collect, sort and disposes of waste at the appropriate place. The robot will use the data basis on trash pictures made by locals and visitors from Ca’Roman, and with the implementation of software, it will separate the trash and dispose it. The main strength of our project is the participation of citizens in each part of our project. Trash-E will be prototyped and designed by the locals (mostly students) and other volunteers.

Trash-E will collect the trash and lower the necessity for human presence on the island. The main project outputs will be: trashgram (app for adding pictures of trash to the data base and offer educational information), open databases, scientific publications, a handbook (with the descriptions of our experience and suggestions for its implementation on other islands and places) and learning materials for implementation of the experience from this project in the education purposes.

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