Engaging Faith-based Communities in Citizen Science through Zooniverse

A citizen science platform that allows all people - no matter their background, training, or expertise - to contribute to real academic research.
  • Date Published

    February 4, 2021

< 1 minute read
Zooniverse image with people speaking and working on science

Image Credit: Zooniverse

Citizen Science is a way that people of all ages and from all walks of life can make valuable contributions to research along with professional scientists. It enables research that would be impossible or impractical without the help of many people. Zooniverse is the largest and most popular online platform for citizen science, where participants can contribute to research in diverse fields of study across the sciences and humanities.

DoSER is pleased to partner with Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase as she creates intentional and sustainable pathways for faith-based and interfaith communities to engage with science.

The primary goal of this project is to create meaningful partnerships between academic researchers and faith communities by fostering new collaborations. Specifically, she is interested in working with community leaders to:

  1. Identify existing Zooniverse projects that could be prototyped for use in their programs (e.g., youth or adult education classes).
  2. Identify new research projects to co-develop using the Zooniverse Project Builder.

To read more about Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase, see this wonderful profile at AAAS news!

Please contact Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase if you would like to discuss these possibilities.

A Brief Introduction to Zooniverse

Video Transcript:

A brief introduction to the Zooniverse.
The way we’ve generate knowledge has changed a lot over the last century. Technological advances are creating huge amounts of data that could be hard for researchers to handle by themselves.  The Zooniverse is an online platform that connects these struggling researchers with people all around the world who want to help. Together, these volunteers have contributed to many incredible discoveries; a huge amount of wonderful science such as helping to sift through a million images of galaxies in the first project, Galaxy Zoo. Not only did this help to create the most comprehensive survey of galaxies,  having so many eyes look at each single data point led to many unexpected discoveries, including a new class of galaxies that appeared as small green blobs – or, as the volunteers called them, peas. The Zooniverse has since grown to include over a hundred and fifty different research projects across all sorts of subject areas and scales, in the stellar to the subcellular and everything else in between. All of this is possible because of a community of nearly 2 million volunteers around the globe who together are changing the way that modern research is done. Why don’t you explore the universe today?

Why Get Involved?

For religious communities:

  • Science is empowering; it enables us to improve conditions in our communities and around the world.
  • Social justice and creation care – being responsible caretakers of the Earth – are valued across many religious traditions. There are many research projects on Zooniverse that involve medical, environmental, and ecological research that address these issues.
  • Awe and wonder lie at the heart of scientific investigation and religious reflection – many people of faith see learning about creation as a way of honoring their faith. Zooniverse projects enable people to explore our amazing cosmos from the subcellular to the cosmological realms, and every level in between.

Please consider taking a short pre-participation survey to help us evaluate interest in citizen science, and/or a post-participation survey to help us improve the platform and experience for everyone!

For Scientists:

A growing number of scientists are leading or developing their own citizen science projects to assist their research efforts. The Zooniverse Project Builder tool can be used to develop research projects that can be launched on the Zooniverse website. Existing Zooniverse projects can also be used in classrooms at all levels of education.

Upcoming Events:


Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase smiling at the camera with an image of space in the background.

Video: The Power of Citizen Science: A Conversation with Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase

August 3, 2021

Even if you don’t have a degree in science, there’s no need to feel excluded from the scientific process. Websites like Zooniverse enable any curious person with an internet connection to help major scientific efforts, from classifying stellar explosions to tracking bees and manatees.

Watch the video
Zooniverse - Faith in Place event coming soon

Video: Community Building with Zooniverse: An Online Platform for Citizen Science

April 6, 2021
Faith In Place

Learn how you can participate in the environmental movement from almost anywhere, using one of the world’s largest and most popular platforms for citizen science! This event is co-hosted by Faith in Place and Chicago Muslims Green Team, in collaboration with the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, & Religion and Zooniverse.

Watch the Video



Engaging Faith Communities with Zooniverse

Video: Using Zooniverse for your Classroom

March 20, 2021

Teachers from across the U.S. joined Grace Wolf-Chase and Molly Simon to learn about zooniverse and how they can get involved in real research with their students.

“The Zooniverse enables everyone to take part in real cutting edge research in many fields across the sciences, humanities, and more. The Zooniverse creates opportunities for you to unlock answers and contribute to real discoveries.”

Watch the Video
Engaging Faith Communities with Zooniverse 2

Video: Community Building with Zooniverse: Empowering Participation in Scientific Discovery

March 6, 2021

Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase leads a workshop about Zooniverse at the Malvern Festival of Ideas. This year’s festival theme centered around unity in the face of dividing barriers. In her workshop, Dr. Wolf-Chase discusses the way citizen science brings together people from all walks of life as they make exciting new discoveries in the sciences and humanities.

Watch the video
Catholic Theological Union logo

Video: Preaching With the Sciences: Reawakening the Religious Imagination with (Space) Science

February 2021

Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase gave a presentation about Zooniverse as part of the Catholic Theological Union’s Preaching with the Sciences series. This series gathered leading scientists and homileticians to explore the positive contributions science can make to preaching.

Watch the presentation
Learn more

Blog Posts and Articles:

Engaging Faith Communities with Zooniverse 4

Article: AAAS DoSER Program Makes Inroads Into Communities of Faith With Help From Citizen Scientists

Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase is working with DoSER on a program that engages faith-based communities in citizen science through Zooniverse. “The Engaging Faith Communities with Zooniverse project…helps us dispel the notion that science is just for people who hold degrees in science,” she says. “Science is really for everyone and citizen science gives people the opportunity to see it as a process rather than a collection of facts.”

Click here to read the article.
Engaging Faith Communities with Zooniverse 1

Article: Serving God and Neighbor through Citizen Science

There are many reasons people participate in citizen science, and particularly Zooniverse projects. These can include:

– They want to contribute to increasing human knowledge
– Science can help us learn more about our world so we can be more responsible caretakers
– The ability to experience awe and wonder is part of being human

and more!

Read the full article on BioLogos’ website
Yellow balls found by the Milky Way Project from Zooniverse

Blog Post: New Results for Milky Way Project Yellowballs

An example of how citizen scientists can make new discoveries by participating in Zooniverse.

This blog was also highlighted on the Planetary Science Institute website and EarthSky.

Click here to read the article.
Engaging Faith Communities with Zooniverse 3

Blog: Preaching Science: Three Scientists Choose Their Favourite Bible Passages To Preach On

This blog shares the various ways three scientists of faith weave science into sermons. Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase, who leads Zooniverse, discusses the cosmos and Hebrew Scripture.

Read the full blog on ECLAS’ website

Key Sponsors:

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation logo

Materials on Zooniverse are based upon work supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Any opinions, findings, or recommendations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Sloan Foundation.