Bard College Student Handbook

Citizen Science

The Citizen Science program provides students with opportunities to develop their personal science literacy through hands-on, real-world course work 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 needed to 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, Citizen Science tackles urgent questions related to water. Students explore the properties of water, as well as how these properties influence the contamination (and decontamination) of drinking water. Students consider the extent to which problems of contamination are not purely scientific in nature: In what ways are social, historical, and political factors at work even when we think we are engaged in “objective” science? Students participate in the Citizen Science program during January intercession of their first year. Successful completion of the program is a requirement for graduation.