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Citizen science in rural Brazil

29 March 2018

Tim Edwards in Brazil
Professor Tim Edwards with Brazilian rural community members and researchers from Sao Paulo's FGV institute

Rural schools in the Guapiruvu Region of Brazil hope to benefit from the social, economic and educational effects of citizen science following a visit by researchers from Cardiff University.

The team, from the Responsible Innovation Network (RIN), spent two days with representatives from a local co-operative movement and the Sete Barras education and sustainable development ministries discussing plans to build a technological infrastructure in the local communities south of Sao Paulo.

The project aims to engage students, farmers and ecological researchers in a collaborative programme to better understand the impact of climate change on biodiversity and the local economy.

Harnessing the growing expertise in technologies like mobile devices and Linux- or Arduino-based computer systems, the project will also assess how communities can be supported through the implementation of a bottom up community driven internet - a communications network infrastructure implemented and managed directly by a community.

Empowering communities

Professor Tim Edwards, from Cardiff Business School and co-founder of the Responsible Innovation Network, said: “The proposed work would help extend the significant environmental achievements of this local community...”

“Emphasising the community’s move to socially and environmentally responsible farming, the project will help local school children appreciate the damage intensive farming methods can have on their natural environment.”

Professor Tim Edwards Pro-Dean for Research, Impact and Innovation
Professor of Organisation and Innovation Analysis

Professor Omer Rana, from the School of Computer and Informatics, added: “This project will enable us to support communities to capture data about bio-diversity in their local area. In doing so, they will become both data owners and curators...”

“This will empower communities to better understand and catalogue their own environment.”

Professor Omer Rana College Dean of International
Professor of Performance Engineering

The field visit was followed by a collaborative workshop in Sao Paulo where Professors Edwards and Rana were joined by an interdisciplinary team of social scientists, computer scientists and ecologists from Fundação Getulio Vargas - Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo, the University of Campinas, and the Alameda Federal University.

To progress, the initiative must now seek funding through ongoing proposals in the UK and in Brazil. Follow the progress on the RIN website.

RIN encourages agenda-setting partnerships between Cardiff University and local, regional and international stakeholders. It is a collective commitment of care for the future through responsive stewardship of science and innovation in the present.

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