As technological innovation accelerates the controversial development of unconventional fossil fuels, citizen science (CS) has emerged as a potential form of citizen engagement in technoscientific energy policy. Citizen science's efficacy in engendering actual policy change, however, is often limited. This paper explores the role of CS in the context of Israel's divisive national oil shale debate. Based chiefly on 41 semi-structured, recorded and transcribed interviews with key players, and 59 policy documents, this research examines both form and strategy whereby CS served as a means of citizen engagement in policymaking. This research indicates several effective forms of citizen-led and policy-driven CS including intense self-education, science production and analysis, challenging scientific authority, and reframing the debate. Moreover, the research demonstrates the strategic operationalization of citizen science. CS was co-produced and disseminated bilaterally via a partnership between citizens and decision-makers – the environmental ministry, and CS was incorporated as one of several components in a complex and multilateral strategy. This research hence offers insight into potential forms and strategies whereby CS can serve effectively as a form of public participation in energy decision-making, yet questions to what extent these forms of CS enhance science democratization.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was financed by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem through its Dean Scholarship for Excellence, and by the Advanced School for Environmental Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem through its Fellowship for Outstanding PhD candidates. The authors would like to thank the interviewees for their valuable insights and the data they provided for this research.
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd
- Citizen science
- Citizen-institutional partnership
- Energy policy
- Public participation
- Unconventional fossil fuel