Ruth Kermish-Allen, Ph.D., is a 2016 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • James Karlan, Ed.D., Committee Chair
  • Jean Kayira, Ph.D., Committee Co-Chair
  • Michael Mueller, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • David Sobel, M.Ed., Committee Member


Citizen Science, Environmental Studies, Online Communities, Environmental Action, Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning

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Traditional citizen science projects have been based on the scientific community’s need to gather vast quantities of high quality data, neglecting to ask what the project participants get in return. How can participants be seen more as collaborative partners in citizen science projects? Online communities for citizen science are expanding rapidly, giving participants the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities, from monitoring invasive species to identifying far-off galaxies. These communities can bring together the virtual and physical worlds in new ways that are egalitarian, collaborative, applied, localized and globalized to solve real environmental problems. There are a small number of citizen science projects that leverage the affordances of an online community to connect, engage, and empower participants to make local change happen. This multiple case study applies a conceptual framework rooted in sociocultural learning theory, Non-Hierarchical Online Learning Communities (NHOLCs), to three online citizen communities that have successfully fostered online collaboration and on-the-ground environmental actions. The purpose of the study is to identify the range and variation of the online and programmatic functions available in each project. The findings lead to recommendations for designing these innovative communities, specifically the technological and programmatic components of online citizen science communities that support environmental actions in our backyards.


Ruth Kermish-Allen

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0001-9191-960X