A “Sense of Place” in Public Participation in Scientific Research
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Public participation in scientific research (PPSR) within the natural sciences has been demonstrated as an effective strategy to expand cognitive knowledge and understanding of ecology, with implications regarding individual perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors about the environment and feelings about the personal relevance of science. Yet the development of PPSR outcomes, the processes through which they form, and the settings where they are shaped are still not fully understood. Because most PPSR takes place and is grounded in specific sites and socioecological contexts, the relationships among PPSR participants and the places in which they explore, collect, and gather information are central to the PPSR experience. Nonetheless, a dearth of empirical research on the interactions between people and places in PPSR highlights a promising area of future scholarship. Drawing from theoretical traditions within geography and environmental psychology, this article contends that PPSR experiences and outcomes both influence and are influenced by a “sense of place.” Highlighting the significance of people–place relationships in PPSR via a place-based window, this article calls for efforts that bridge multiple academic communities to open innovative avenues for understanding natural science PPSR experiences, the cognitive, conative, and affective outcomes of such encounters, and the dynamics of human–environment interactions.