Week 1: Bread, Public Engagement and Science

The word “biotechnology” tends to invoke thoughts of computers, genetic technology, test tubes, and other laboratory materials. Bread is a technology, and could be argued to be one of the most important innovations in human history (along with the invention of rice). Nawar’s project, merging the biotechnology of bread with social and political activism, exemplifies the many ways that science and biotechnology infiltrate our everyday lives.  The first week’s emphasis on bread was an insightful and imperative way to start the course, for biotechnology does not need to always be so complex and advanced. In fact, the connotation of the word science may do more harm than good, for it makes science appear too complex for the general public to engage in (Bucchi, 2002). Even though science is intertwined with everyone’s daily lives, the concept of “science” often feels distant and disconnected from the public. Nawar’s project may be considered a form of “citizen science” that aims to highlight certain political arguments. Nawar was able to recruit drawings from people across the globe; engagement of citizens in both art and science should be discussed more broadly, for such engagement can help solve numerous environmental, structural and political issues at both the local, regional and global scales. Citizen science aims to engage the public in the collection, analysis and implementation of science in their local communities. Citizen science seems to be a new and innovative concept; however, citizens should be aware of the natural worlds surrounding them instead of relying on professionals to understand the natural world for them. In addition, citizen science may become crucial to certain disadvantaged communities that do not receive expensive and professional scientific advice from the developed world. 

Source: http://www.talkwildlife.net/citizen-science/

Citizen science has become an important mode of disaster recovery, especially on the island of Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Many individuals living on the island of Puerto Rico have taken recovery upon their own shoulders, for organizations such as FEMA are not always able to understand and implement structural issues that occur at the levels of small communities. The organization "ParaLaNaturaleza" aims to educate, engage and empower the individuals of Puerto Rico, so that they can serve as their own heroes in the fight for disaster recovery. The words "Para La Naturaleza" are Spanish words that translate to "For the Nature". As climate change becomes more visible throughout the world, Caribbean islands are at high risk of catastrophe. Para La Naturaleza is a grassroots organizations that can prepare the people of Puerto Rico to battle their current crisis, and be prepared for future events that may occur as a result of climate change. The organization plans events all over the island of Puerto Rico; some events include tree planting, the maintenance of urban gardens, the recording of lizard populations, and much more. 

Source: http://www.paralanaturaleza.org

Both the work of Nawar and Para La Naturaleza are examples of people power and communities. In times of crisis, civil war, inhumane conditions and the like, citizens cannot rely solely on the actions of the government and professional, scientific institutions. Similarly to the many types of bread displayed in Nawar's book, citizen science is a concept that will work and operate differently based on the needs and cultures of the communities in which it lives. In Puerto Rico, citizen science aims to rebuild hurricane-torn rainforests; in the Amazon of South America, citizen science aims to document the ongoing processes of deforestation and water pollution, especially in indigenous communities. Citizen science can without doubt utilize art to educate and empower communities to understand the natural world in which they live.

Source: http://cienciaciudadanaparalaamazonia.org/index.php/awi/

 

Works Cited:

“AMAZON WATERS INITIATIVE.” CIENCIA CIUDADANA PARA LA AMAZONIA, 2018, cienciaciudadanaparalaamazonia.org/index.php/awi/.

Bucchi, Massimiano. Theories of Public Communication of Science. 2008.

“Citizen Science.” Talk: Wildlife, 2017, www.talkwildlife.net/citizen-science/.

“Home Page.” Home Page | UCLA Art | Sci Center + Lab, 2018, artsci.ucla.edu/.

“Para La Naturaleza.” Para La Naturaleza, 2018, www.paralanaturaleza.org/.

“What Is the Citizen Science Alliance?” Citizen Science Alliance, 2017, www.citizensciencealliance.org/index.html.