Research Topic

Agro-Food Systems, Citizen Science and the Sustainability Transition

About this Research Topic

It is widely acknowledged in academic and policy literature that citizen engagement in food system transitions is a prerequisite to changing our locked-in food systems. Still, policy and academic attention are mostly focused on ethical consumerism and ecological food consumption and much less on the concept of food citizenship. Even when food citizenship is considered, it is biased towards market-based, individual and consumer-oriented approaches in contrast to solidarity and community-based agriculture, nonmarket supply and shared food values.

Similarly, citizen science and public participation for scientific research are very rarely used in food innovations and governance. There has been very little focus on how citizen science could contribute to democratic, socially and economically just, and ecologically desirable food systems. Whereas citizen science can incorporate a range of approaches (public engagement in science, public understanding of science, crowdsourcing, community science) and can develop into an active community of practice, it rarely offers citizens the opportunity to contribute to food knowledge production or food innovation. Most of the existing citizen science programs are agriculture-focused and use existing infrastructure and tools of extension programs or the engagement of urban communities. The focus is mostly on monitoring pests and pathogens, and biodiversity and ecosystem service conservation. There is a much smaller focus on food safety testing, food security, food justice, or food education. Social innovations by citizens in the food systems are rarely considered.

In this collection, we seek to explore how non-scientists can play meaningful peer-reviewed roles in project development, data collection, and discovery around food systems and their transformation. We are looking for theoretical reflections and illustrative case studies of citizen science approaches and their potential applications. Examples of this include:
• Documentation of citizens' food environments
• Food waste behavior
• Evaluation, sharing and exchanging of seed varieties
• Generating data on food self-sufficiency
• Usage of technologies in growing, cooking, eating and/or disposing of food
• Generating ideas for processes, products, and services
• Innovations towards market-ready prototypes
• Introduction of novelties to the market for the common good
• Enhancing food literacy
• DIY, or Do-It-Together, practices by citizens to ensure food sovereignty and/or sustainable food security.

Key questions that guide this collection:
• What are the experiences, benefits and the potential of food citizen science in food governance on the local, regional, national or global levels?
• Can citizens be transformative agents in the social innovation of our food system?
• Can citizens engage in the technological, product (service) and process-oriented innovations around food system transformation?
• How can we consider citizen science as a proper research-based intervention into existing ways and cultures of developing food systems/environments?
• How can we design collaborative arenas of citizen science activities to develop more inclusive and sustainable food systems?


Keywords: citizen science, food innovations, governance, crowdsourcing, community science, food, Food waste behavior, social innovation, food system


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

It is widely acknowledged in academic and policy literature that citizen engagement in food system transitions is a prerequisite to changing our locked-in food systems. Still, policy and academic attention are mostly focused on ethical consumerism and ecological food consumption and much less on the concept of food citizenship. Even when food citizenship is considered, it is biased towards market-based, individual and consumer-oriented approaches in contrast to solidarity and community-based agriculture, nonmarket supply and shared food values.

Similarly, citizen science and public participation for scientific research are very rarely used in food innovations and governance. There has been very little focus on how citizen science could contribute to democratic, socially and economically just, and ecologically desirable food systems. Whereas citizen science can incorporate a range of approaches (public engagement in science, public understanding of science, crowdsourcing, community science) and can develop into an active community of practice, it rarely offers citizens the opportunity to contribute to food knowledge production or food innovation. Most of the existing citizen science programs are agriculture-focused and use existing infrastructure and tools of extension programs or the engagement of urban communities. The focus is mostly on monitoring pests and pathogens, and biodiversity and ecosystem service conservation. There is a much smaller focus on food safety testing, food security, food justice, or food education. Social innovations by citizens in the food systems are rarely considered.

In this collection, we seek to explore how non-scientists can play meaningful peer-reviewed roles in project development, data collection, and discovery around food systems and their transformation. We are looking for theoretical reflections and illustrative case studies of citizen science approaches and their potential applications. Examples of this include:
• Documentation of citizens' food environments
• Food waste behavior
• Evaluation, sharing and exchanging of seed varieties
• Generating data on food self-sufficiency
• Usage of technologies in growing, cooking, eating and/or disposing of food
• Generating ideas for processes, products, and services
• Innovations towards market-ready prototypes
• Introduction of novelties to the market for the common good
• Enhancing food literacy
• DIY, or Do-It-Together, practices by citizens to ensure food sovereignty and/or sustainable food security.

Key questions that guide this collection:
• What are the experiences, benefits and the potential of food citizen science in food governance on the local, regional, national or global levels?
• Can citizens be transformative agents in the social innovation of our food system?
• Can citizens engage in the technological, product (service) and process-oriented innovations around food system transformation?
• How can we consider citizen science as a proper research-based intervention into existing ways and cultures of developing food systems/environments?
• How can we design collaborative arenas of citizen science activities to develop more inclusive and sustainable food systems?


Keywords: citizen science, food innovations, governance, crowdsourcing, community science, food, Food waste behavior, social innovation, food system


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 March 2020 Abstract
29 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 March 2020 Abstract
29 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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