Citizen Science, Community-based Monitoring and Urban Planning: Exploring Ideas to Extend Conceptual and Theoretical Implications of Public Participation

Thumbnail Image
Kent, Benjamin
citizen science , community science , community-based monitoring , planning theory , urban planning , land use planning , environmental planning , public participation
Citizen science is a concept that advocates involving non-experts in scientific research by framing research potentially as a two-way street between researchers and civil society (Hecker et al., 2019). Citizen science has produced a number of innovative approaches to participatory research, a prolific example of which is community-based monitoring (Conrad & Hilchey, 2011). This report will explore whether citizen science approaches such as community-based monitoring can provide the beginnings of some new ideas to extend existing planning theories of public participation. Since the 1980’s, communicative planning theory has emerged as the predominant alternative to rational-comprehensive planning theory (Innes & Booher, 2015). Communicative planning theory states that planners plan in the public interest only as a result of participatory processes that address power imbalances between all stakeholders (Innes & Booher, 2016). Yet, some theorists argue that planning theory and practice fails to meaningfully address these power dynamics (Brabham, 2009). This report follows from the critique that planning expertise itself determines, a priori, what counts as credible knowledge in planning processes and thus creates an inherent power imbalance between planners and civil society (Flyvbjerg, 2002). This report proposes citizen science as one potential framework to ameliorate this problem. To explore the potential for developing such a framework, a case study of the unique planning environment on the Oak Ridges Moraine, Ontario, Canada is presented, examining linkages between citizen science scholarship and planning theory.
External DOI