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

4 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.

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:


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
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:

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.

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.