Citizen science and the next generation of environmental law

Overdevest Christine, Brian Mayer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


IF THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LEGACY ACT IS TO SET ACCU rate baseline measures of the quantity and quality of our natural resources, whose information should be included in the establishment and monitoring of these environmental metrics? This chapter argues that the Legacy Act should pay attention to where the law might cultivate a more active citizenry by enlisting citizen volunteers in the collection and diffusion of environmental data and the public education about environmental quality. One approach to cultivating such an active citizenry is through public participation in various forms of citizen science. By “citizen science,” we mean projects involving citizen volunteers in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data through which the public becomes more engaged in federal research and decision making. Citizen science programs can increase the amount of information about the ecological condition of local resources, support data sharing for community education, build networks, leverage local resources, and help provide information to motivate local civic conservation action. In turn, participation in the collection and discussion of environmental data creates opportunities for the publicity necessary to cultivate a more active and informed citizenry. In addition, citizen science can create informal social pressure for regulatory compliance and provide support for agency and citizen enforcement efforts. To develop the benefits of active participation and citizen science, this chapter draws on the political philosophy of Hannah Arendt. Hannah Arendt focused on the importance of active citizenship in society, arguing active involvement yields citizens with the capacity for effective political participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBeyond Environmental Law
Subtitle of host publicationPolicy Proposals for a Better Environmental Future
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780511802591
ISBN (Print)9780521767712
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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