Helicopter science and research at UF

UF faculty and students are deeply engaged with the world, doing research in almost every country.  The International Center wants to ensure that our research is conducted with the highest standards and regard for colleagues, communities, and stakeholders in the countries in which we work.  Thus, we offer these resources on helicopter science to better inform international researchers about the practice of doing and performing research in other countries.

What is helicopter science?

Known by several terms or phrases which are not exactly the same, helicopter science occurs when researchers from higher income countries or from more privileged settings carry out research in resource-poor settings with limited to no involvement of local communities or researchers.  Helicopter science does not recognize the knowledge and contributions that local researchers offer and may even not acknowledge their participation.

Another term for helicopter science is parachute science.  This occurs when researchers “drop down” from a higher income country or ivory tower into a foreign community to work – gather field data and samples, interact with local communities, rely on local researchers – and then zip back home without any acknowledgement of the contributions of the local researchers.

Relatedly, the movements to decolonize science also recognize elements of helicopter and parachute science in that the movement means to challenge the legacy of white European thought and culture in science and education.  One element of decolonization is to fully recognize the contributions of previous scientists and educators and to make every effort to include and acknowledge past contributions as well as current ones.

In the spring of 2023, and probably beyond, please look to this website and other sources for information about the seminar series that will bring in speakers from different disciplines to talk about and interact with the UF community about helicopter science.

On this website, you will also find resources such as relevant citations and posting of presentations.

Stay tuned for additional activities as well.

Feel free to contact any of us on the Helicopter Science committee for further information: