What is Citizen Scholarship?

The ‘Citizen Scholarship’ model offers a new approach to working with volunteers to build capacity for small cultural and heritage institutions. Find out more about how it works and explore example projects here.

You may already be familiar with ‘crowdsourcing’ or ‘citizen science’ projects, such as Planet Four – in which members of the public can help planetary scientists identify and measure features on the surface of Mars – or In the Spotlight – in which the public is asked to help by marking out dates and venues on eighteenth century playbills held by the British Library. You might also know these as contributory or collaborative projects, as we describe in our summary below.

In contrast, our model of citizen scholarship involves training and support for volunteers in co-designed, and co-created participatory projects. Our volunteers develop and utilise research methods closer to those of humanities scholars: adopting interpretative, contextual and analytical methods, acknowledging potentially differing understandings of historical evidence, and – at least in the initial stages of research – being prepared to encounter difficulties in finding, categorizing and understanding relevant material.

Slide design: Laura Carletti

You can explore some of the projects that resulted from this model via the ‘Example Projects’ tab.

You can access an article about Citizen Scholarship and our work with the Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham here.