The word citizen was originally included in the term citizen science to distinguish amateur data collectors from professional scientists, not to describe the citizenship status of these volunteer observers. Today, however, it is important for us to recognize that the term has become limiting to our work and partnerships in some contexts.
Audubon welcomes everyone who finds delight in birds and nature. As part of Audubon’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, we have transitioned from using the term “citizen science” to the more inclusive term “community science.” No matter where a volunteer was born, or how they came to the United States, we value their contribution to our science and conservation programs. Citizenship, or the perception that a volunteer may or may not be a citizen, certainly isn’t a prerequisite to caring for birds.
Furthermore, participation in volunteer data-collection initiatives like the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and the Great Backyard Bird Count are, at their best, communal experiences that bring us together as a caring community of people who are inspired by birds and want to protect them. The term community science better reflects these social and relational realities.
Read more about Audubon's statement on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion here.