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Citizen Science

  • The program works to deepen the scientific literacy of all students at Bard.

    The program works to deepen the scientific literacy of all students at Bard.
  • Experiments are an important part of the program, giving all students exposure to lab work, regardless of their chosen major.

    Experiments are an important part of the program, giving all students exposure to lab work, regardless of their chosen major.
  • What is the role of citizens when it comes to weighing in on important scientific issues?

    What is the role of citizens when it comes to weighing in on important scientific issues?
  • Students collect data and evidence in the laboratory, which they then apply to the global questions they're considering in class.

    Students collect data and evidence in the laboratory, which they then apply to the global questions they're considering in class.
  • Faculty members work closely with students to examine the issues from a historical, societal, and scientific perspective.

    Faculty members work closely with students to examine the issues from a historical, societal, and scientific perspective.
  • Instructors create a supportive and immersive teaching environment.

    Instructors create a supportive and immersive teaching environment.
The program works to deepen the scientific literacy of all students at Bard.1 Experiments are an important part of the program, giving all students exposure to lab work, regardless of their chosen major.2 What is the role of citizens when it comes to weighing in on important scientific issues?3 Students collect data and evidence in the laboratory, which they then apply to the global questions they're considering in class.4 Faculty members work closely with students to examine the issues from a historical, societal, and scientific perspective.5 Instructors create a supportive and immersive teaching environment.6

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Phone: 845-758-7490
citizenscience@bard.edu

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Citizen Science

The 2020 Program Dates will be posted soon.

The goal of the Citizen Science program at Bard College is to provide students with opportunities to develop their personal science literacy through hands-on, real-world coursework and projects. We ask: What does it mean to be scientifically literate? What is the role of citizens when it comes to weighing in on important scientific issues? How can citizens find the scientific information they need in order to meet the challenges they face in their lives and respond to the scientific issues of their day? What are the skills we all need in order to adequately and thoroughly interpret scientific claims, and how can we be sure that the conduct, analysis, and interpretation of science are not unduly influenced by political or other potentially distorting factors?

Inspired by stories from places like Flint, Michigan, and Hoosick Falls, New York, the Citizen Science program tackles urgent, present-day questions related to water. We will explore the properties of water, as well as how these properties influence the contamination (and decontamination) of drinking water. We will also consider the extent to which problems of contamination are not purely scientific in nature: Where and how does politics enter the picture? In what ways are social, historical, and political factors at work even when we think we are engaged in “objective” science?

The program consists of a common core of coursework and one of four lab strands, described below. Students will be assigned to a strand during the fall semester based on interest.

Research Lab Strand
Students in this strand will conduct original scientific research on a group of aquatic bacteria that are found in waterways around the world. These bacteria produce a purple pigment, violacein that has remarkable chemical properties. Most practically, the pigment has been shown to kill a fungal pathogen that is decimating global amphibian populations. This strand is ideal for students who have done some scientific research before and are eager to do more. It’s also a great entry point for students who’ve never had the chance to do original hands-on research and would like to try it.
 
Community Action Lab Strand
Students in this strand will conduct original research on the prevalence of environmental estrogens/testosterone in local waterways. Such compounds can enter the water system as a result of industrial and agricultural uses, and also as a result of the use of synthetic hormones to modulate human reproductive cycles. These compounds have been shown to have potential negative effects on wildlife and human health. Whether they are found in local water, and if so, at what concentrations, is not currently known. This strand is ideal for students who are interested in conducting original research, and for those interested in how scientific research can inform local communities.
 
Science Communication Lab Strand
In this strand, students will translate important scientific discoveries to make them accessible to the public. The focus will be on interpreting, synthesizing, and writing about results from potentially contradictory studies to provide the best information for people to make timely decisions. For example, does hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) pose risks for human health? Does the widely used herbicide atrazine (produced by Monsanto) cause deformities in wildlife? This strand is a good choice for students who want to embrace the challenge of distilling scientific information for the public in clearly written prose.
 
Science Education Lab Strand
In this strand, students will work with Engagement Fellows from the Center for Civic Engagement to lead hands-on science activities with local middle school students. In the lab, students in this strand will engage in research of their own and develop classroom activities for young learners. This strand is ideal for students who are interested in education, and for those who would like to gain experience doing hands-on work within the local community.