The Anthropocene is defined by the unprecedented global impact human society has made, and will continue to make, on the Earth system. In the Anthropocene, the gulf between scientific understanding and civic decision-making simultaneously increases the likelihood of disaster, our vulnerability to natural hazards, and the inequity of their impact. Anticipating, mitigating, and recovering from disasters, therefore, requires the integration of multiple kinds of scientific knowledge into the broader social context used to support decisions. In other words, living in the Anthropocene requires we bring science and society closer together. Our continuing descent into the Anthropocene argues for a new approach.
To address the challenges of the Anthropocene, humans need to integrate scientific knowledge into their ways of thinking about the world and making decisions. An effective way to do that is to add participatory approaches to the portfolio of scientific methods. The most engaging of these approaches is community-driven science: developing and answering questions that are driven by the needs and priorities of specific, local, diverse nonscientific communities. Community-driven science includes both practical strategies and a shift toward a more inclusive worldview that places science alongside, rather than above, other ways of knowing. In short, as scientists and educators, we need to do science with people, not for them or at them.