Priya Vallabh

Priya Vallabh

NatDip (Pretoria Technikon); MEd Environmental Education (Rhodes University); MA Online and Distance Education (Open University, UK).

Dissertation working title: Are the rumors about citizen science true? Does participating in citizen science activities enable epistemic access to the science


Priya is a PhD scholar and lecturer at the ELRC at Rhodes University, within the CATHSSETA and Citizen Science research groups. Her broader research interest is around participation in online learning and social action-taking. Priya’s PhD study aims to examine the epistemic cultures of a variety of citizen science programmes in South Africa, with an eye to informing how we can better utilize such forms of social learning towards addressing contemporary environmental challenges. The study involves a mapping of 60 citizen science projects within South Africa and the development of a methodological framework to better research epistemic cultures. The methodological framework is illustrated through an analysis of the iSpotSA project, which is an offshoot of the international iSpot project. The study is framed drawing on Knorr-Cetina’s (2007) notion of epistemic cultures, and Latour’s (2004) notions of learning curves and matters of concern.

Priya is an advocate of open learning, and the rapidly increasing opportunities for new and innovative social learning strategies that Web 2.0 has enabled. She believes that these new learning and action taking strategies have opened up mechanisms for engaging in environmental learning and problem-solving, and hopes that her work will contribute to unlocking access to these tools for the environmental learning community in Southern Africa.

Primary research question: How is learning shaped by different epistemic cultures within the citizen sciences?

Keywords: Citizen Science; epistemic cultures; epistemic access;learning curves; learning

Supervisors: Prof. Heila Sisitka & Dr Ingrid Schudel

Organisational affiliations: Employed by: Rhodes University (

GreenMatter Fellow

Last Modified: Tue, 22 Mar 2016 15:15:59 SAST