Citizen science is key to the success of Future Earth Initiatives for urban sustainability. Emerging research in urban land teleconnections highlights the benefits of incorporating theoretical insights from political ecology and participatory action research. Reviewing some of the forces propelling the recent popularity of citizen science, this article outlines challenges to processes of collaboration between scientists and non-scientists. We distinguish these concerns from others that may arise from the data or other products resulting from citizen science projects. Careful consideration of the processes and products of citizen science could engender a more fruitful relationship between professional scientists and their research communities and help universities to build effective partnerships with those in wider society whose expertise comes from their life experience.