Science Transformation in EuroPe through Citizens involvement in HeAlth, coNservation and enerGy rEsearch (STEP CHANGE)

Project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme
Grant Agreement n. 101006386
Duration: 36 months
Start date: 01/03/2021
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Citizen science is one of the many participatory approaches that have developed in recent years in the broader field of public engagement in science and innovation. However, it is the approach that more directly puts the very practice of science in the spotlight. For such a reason, citizen science can play an even broader societal and scientific role than is generally acknowledged, particularly in those critical fields of research – such as energy, health and environment – where human and non-human factors are deeply entangled. In this sense, citizen science can play a pivotal role by making science more socially robust, inclusive and democratic while strengthening the capacity of scientific investigation over emerging phenomena that cannot be easily caught within narrow disciplinary boundaries.

STEP CHANGE is precisely aimed at exploring and exploiting the potential of citizen science in terms of knowledge and innovation advancement and science and society alignment, through the development and evaluation of 5 hands-on Citizen Science initiatives in three different areas (Energy, Health and Environment). The five initiatives will be respectively conducted in Slovenia (on wildlife conservation), United Kingdom (on non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases), Germany (on energy communities), Italy (on infectious disease outbreak preparedness) and Uganda (on off-grid renewable energy in agriculture). Based on the experience emerging from the five Citizen Science initiatives and their results, a set of recommendations will be formulated and some tools will be developed to a better anchoring of citizen science in scientific institutions.

The project includes three different stages. The first stage will be devoted to preparing the ground for the Citizen Science initiatives, especially for what concerns the recruitment of citizen scientists and the involvement of stakeholders (WP1). The second stage will focus on the development of the Citizen Science initiatives by the different teams (WP2 to WP6). The initiatives will be supported through training and mutual learning activities (WP7) and a participatory monitoring and evaluation system (WP8). Finally, the stocktaking stage (WP9) is planned to support the sustainability of the Citizen Science initiatives and to take stock of the project outcomes. STEP CHANGE also includes two cross-cutting work packages respectively devoted to communication and dissemination activities (WP10) and the management of the project (WP11).

Overall, the project consortium includes 11 partners led by the University of Primorska (Slovenia).


Between January and March 2023, the third wave of Monitoring Meetings with the organisations involved in the implementation of citizen science initiatives, namely the NGOs Action for Rural Women's Empowerment (ARUWE) and Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), Primorska University of Koper, the University of Rome Tor Vergata and the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, was concluded. The meetings were led, in the framework of Work Package 8, by representatives of K&I (work package leaders) and Aarhus University. The third wave of monitoring was aimed not only at analysing the activities carried out and those to be carried out ...
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An article entitled 'Evaluating Citizen Science initiatives through a citizen-science based approach' has been published in the fteval Journal for Research and Technology Evaluation (April 2022). The publication, whose first author is Luciano d'Andrea (K&I), presents the approach to evaluating citizen science initiatives implemented within the STEP CHANGE project. The article is accessible on the journal website ...
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Between September and October 2022, the second series of Monitoring Sessions has been conducted under WP8, led by K&I. The meetings aim at supporting the five project partners involved with the implementation of the CS initiatives through a monitoring and evaluation activity, analysing critical aspects and possible opportunities. The results of each meeting have been summarised in the meeting minutes shared with the CSI teams. The sessions have been jointly organised by K&I and Aarhus University ...
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The University of Primorska hosted the second Steering Committee Meeting of the Step Change project, held in Koper (Slovenia) on 17 and 18 May, 2022. Some members of the Committee participated in the meeting online. During the event, the state of advancement of each work package has been presented and discussed. Special attention has been devoted to the five Citizen Science initiatives, which are now in the implementation phase. As for the K&I team, Luciano d’Andrea and Claudia Colonnello were present at the meeting while Fabio Feudo participated in online mode ...
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The first series of Monitoring Meetings of the Citizen Science Initiatives (CSIs) is being implemented between April and June 2022. The meetings involve, on the one side, representatives from K&I and Aarhus University (the entities responsible for the Evaluation process) and, on the other side, the members of the local evaluation unit of each CSI Team. The meetings focus on the activities carried out, dwelling upon critical issues and opportunities, as well as on those planned for the next two months. The contents of the meeting are then summarised in the meeting minutes, prepared by K&I and shared with the ...
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The relationship between the Responsible Research & Innovation approach and that of Citizen Science was the focus of the webinar jointly organized, on March 28, 2022, by the ResBios and Step Change projects. The issues discussed were how these approaches intertwine, how can the practices inspired by them improve research in the field of biosciences and what is the added value of engaging citizens in this specific disciplinary research field. The following took part: René von Schomberg (the Kate Hamburger Kolleg); Daniele Mezzana (project manager at ResBios Coordination team − University of Rome Tor Vergata); Buzan (ResBios Project and StepChange ...
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Five online two-day Customisation workshops have been held between December 2021 and January 2022. The workshops were aimed at customising the evaluation criteria included in the “Evaluation Framework”, tailoring them to the specific features of the five citizen science initiatives (CSIs) started under the Step Change project. The workshops have been organised by K&I (that leads the Work Package 8, devoted to the evaluation of the CSIs), together with Aarhus University and involved the different CSI teams, i.e., University of Primorska (December 13 and 14, 2021), Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment – ARUWE (January 12 and 14, 2022), University of ...
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The first meeting of the Steering Committee of the Step Change project was held online on 10 and 11 November, 2021. The meeting aimed to take stock of the situation of the different work packages in the context of the final phase of the planning of Citizen Science (CSIs) initiatives. On behalf of K&I, Luciano d'Andrea, Claudia Colonnello, and Fabio Feudo were present at the meeting. During the Steering Committee Meeting, Luciano d'Andrea presented the activities carried out in the context of WP8 (Participatory Evaluation), of which K&I is the leader. Currently, the preparation of the Evaluation Framework is being ...
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The Kick-off Meeting of the STEP CHANGE Project has been held online on March 15th and 16th, 2021. The first day, after some introductory words by Klavdija Kutnar, Rector of the University of Primorska (the institution leading the project), Yiannis Vacondios, Project Officer of the EC Research Executive Agency, provided a set of information related to the management of the project while Linden Farrer, EC Policy Officer, dwelled upon the policy context and the future perspective of RRI in the new Horizon Europe Framework Programme. Subsequently, Elena Bužan (from the University of Primoska and project coordinator) offered an overview of ...
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