Citizen science and civic ecology: merging paths to stewardship

  • Rebecca C. JordanEmail author
  • Amanda E. Sorensen
  • Dawn Biehler
  • Sacoby Wilson
  • Shannon LaDeau


Take Back the Block is a community beautification and citizen science program established for West Baltimore, Maryland (MD) residents. Citizen science, given its focus on data gathering, provides an ideal context to integrate adaptive management while encouraging locally based stewardship through civic ecology practices. The goal of this research is to show how integrating civic ecology practices with adaptive co-management of resources and citizen science can lead to meaningful environmental stewardship. We begin with a structured discussion comparing civic ecology to adaptive management and citizen science. We then share information about our civic ecology-oriented citizen science project that is both consistent with the ten principles of civic ecology practices and strives for adaptive co-management. In many ways, we found that our project aligned well with civic ecology practices with a few changes such as inviting members external to the community to participate and making data collection a component of the stewardship activities. Members of the project were able to achieve some stewardship goals in reclaiming and greening public spaces. In addition, in alignment with adaptive management, they iteratively gathered information that guided projects and serves as evidence and a model of adaptive co-management for communities outside of Baltimore.


Civic ecology Citizen science Collaborative adaptive management 



We would like to thank the following organizations: No Boundaries, Parks and People, Neighborhood Design Center, Baltimore, MD, SOWEBO partnerships, various neighborhood associations, John Henry Pitas, Daniel Rodenberg, and the numerous citizen scientists.

Funding information

This project was supported through a National Science Foundation CNH: #1211797.


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Copyright information

© AESS 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human EcologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography & Environmental SystemsUniversity of Maryland Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Applied Environmental HealthUniversity of Maryland School of Public HealthCollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.Cary Institute of Ecosystem StudiesMillbrookUSA

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