Our Community Science Lab model engages school students in applied projects that seek to understand and influence the cooperation dynamics relevant to the everyday lives of school communities.

What is Community Science?

Community science is a broad term for community-based approaches to research, often including a range of practices including citizen science and service-learning.

Through the Global ESD Community Science Lab Model, we focus on the collaborative use of scientific methods to better understand and inform the cultural evolution of cooperation and well-being in our own communities. It is an approach to youth empowerment that works to bridge our evolutionary past with our preferred futures on issues that matter to students and their communities.

Citizen Science is the engagement of everyday citizens in all aspects of the scientific process

Service-Learning is the use of community service as a platform for academic learning and citizen development

The Cultural Evolution of Cooperation

Humans are a uniquely cooperative species, having evolved capacities to work together at scales of time and social organization unparalleled in the natural world. Despite these abilities, the challenges of cooperation seem to be at the heart of nearly every sustainability dilemma that modern communities must face. The science of cultural evolution provides a theoretical framework for understanding the complex conditions that favor or hinder our capacities for cooperation towards the well-being of all.

  • Prosocial - an international research community for working better together through a shared understanding of the cultural evolution of cooperation and psychological flexibility

Community-Based Research in Education

Students are in a unique position within their own communities to be able to learn about and advocate for valued changes to the world they are inheriting . By grounding community science investigations within cultural evolutionary perspectives on human cooperation, students can engage a powerful set of theoretical and methodological tools to investigate and communicate the sustainability issues that directly impact their lives.

School Culture & Governance

Schools are central social environments for young people to grow and develop themselves. How schools are governed, and which norms, values, and institutions get adopted, can all drive major life trajectories for how students think about their own learning and civic capacities and about the world they live in. This community science project provides scientific infrastructure for students around the world to investigate and strengthen the cooperation dynamics of their own school governance systems.

School Gardens

School gardens offer immense learning potential, yet organizing and sustaining such learning environments is notoriously challenging. This community science project provides scientific infrastructure for students around the world to investigate and strengthen the cooperative dynamics of their own school gardens.

Relevant literature

Atkins, P. W. B., Wilson, D. S., & Hayes, S. C. (2019). Prosocial. Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, and Collaborative Groups. Oakland, USA: Context Press.

Boyd, M. R. (2014). Community-Based Research: Understanding the Principles, Practices, Challenges, and Rationale. In P. Leavy (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199811755.013.006

Jason, L., & Glenwick, D. (Eds.). (2016). Handbook of methodological approaches to community-based research: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. Oxford University Press.

KIDS Consortium. (2001). KIDS as planners: A guide to strengthening students, schools and communities through service-learning. Lewiston, ME, USA.

Strand, K., Marullo, S., Cutforth, N., Stoecker, R., & Donohue, P. (2003). Community-based Research and Higher Education. Principles and Practices. San Francisco, CA, USA: Jossey-Bass.