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A participant in my citizen science workshop, April 2014, doing a sorting activity.

New efforts in government transparency, examples of natural resource management done best by communities, and mandated stakeholder engagement in things like the National Ocean Policy all mean that many practicing scientists who want to apply their findings are going to have to deal with the public. But how does one define the public? Who is encompassed by the term ‘stakeholder’ and should be invited and who will serve as only a distraction? How do you set up your communications – online, in person, both? How does one deal with the loud person who feels his voice should be louder than others or the person who you know has good things to say but can’t get a word in edgewise? These are many of the challenges faced when embarking on the facilitation train.

Participation, even within a single context of citizen science or collaborative fisheries research, does not mean the same thing in all cases. I’m collecting and testing methods of facilitation – be that through workshops, online space, or interactive mapping – to meet the needs of colleagues who want better collaboration. Some of these I’m testing in a classroom setting, others in the field with research participants around the world. In the end, I will compile my lessons into a book – a handbook for those who need to gather and organize the ideas from a wide array of people. Until then, I’m happy to provide consulting services or listen to your ideas for what I should test next.  Please contact me.