Blog post: Science and society – a changing framework and the role of RRI

Editorial Team RRI, STARBIOS2

Daniele Mezzana on a changing science-society relationship and the role RRI can play to bridge the gap in a recent blog post on the Uppsala University Ethics Blog based on the Discussion Note for our final event on 29 May: Responsible research in bioscience: Challenges for mainstreaming. “Taking on an approach such as RRI is not simply morally recommendable, but indispensable for attempting a re-alignment between scientific research and the needs of society. […] [A]s the Covid-19 pandemic is challenging our societies, our political and economic systems, we recognise that scientists are also being challenged. By the corona virus as well as by contextual challenges. The virus is testing their ability to play a key role to the public, to share information and to produce relevant knowledge. But when we go back to ‘normal’, the challenge of changing science-society relations will persist. And we will remain convinced that RRI and similar approaches will be a valuable contribution to addressing these challenges, now and in the future.” Read the full text on the Ethics Blog

RRI action on science education at University of Bremen

Editorial Team RRI

Structural change towards responsible research and innovation looks different depending on institutions’ political, social and cultural context. This blog post tells the STARBIOS2 RRI story of our colleagues at University of Bremen. Want to learn more about what the STARBIOS2 project has been doing in the past 4 years and what we learned from implementing RRI in 6 European bioscience research institutions. Come to our virtual final event 29 May! MAIN CHALLENGES Our goal was to raise awareness and initiate structural change in regard to Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) at the Faculty of Biology andChemistry at the University of Bremen. The challenges we had to overcome: The development of a common shared RRI vision in awhole-institutional-approach. The activation of those affected (students, researchers, stakeholders) in a bottom-up – top-down process. The identification of supportive and hindering structures and coping with obstacles FOCUS ON SCIENCE EDUCATION We chose Science Education as an important trigger to attain the RRI issues Public Engagement, Gender, Ethics, and Open Access. Based on an inclusivecommunication model for biosciences we developed a series of reflective activities to encourage discussion and critically questions about what is responsible and conscientious practice within the scientific domain.The reflective activities about societal engagement, contextualization of research, open access publication, gender in research, and ethics in science communication were evaluated with different target groups (students, doctoral students, researchers). In addition, we developed a comprehensive educational model that formed the basis of RRI educational modules in cooperation with the Graduate School NanoCompetence, scientists …

Covid-19 and Open Science: 29 May, 18:00 CEST

Editorial Team RRI

“Covid-19 and Open Science” will be an opportunity to learn from and discuss Open Science approaches, methodologies and best practice used by STARBIOS2 partners involved in fighting the novel coronavirus and Covid-19. Join us on 29 May 2020, at 18:00 CEST! Directly following the STARBIOS2 final event on 29 May, we organise a special event on Covid-19 and Open Science. The Covid-19 pandemic caused by the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) has reinforced data sharing, communication and collaboration within international research communities. Challenging, in a positive way, the utilization of open science approaches and methodologies. Speakers include… The UNESCO chairs for Covid-19Ahmed Fahmi, UNESCO Title to be announcedAlessandro Sette, La Jolla Institute for Immunology, CA, USA University students partnership during Covid-19 epidemics in CameroonJules-Roger Kuiate, Evangelic University of Cameroon The Covid-19 Tor Vergata Joint LaboratoryVittorio Colizzi, professor of Immunology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, director of the UNESCO Chair of Biotechnology & Bioethics,Coordinator of the Tor Vergata Covid-19 Joint Lab Open Science is a new approach to the scientific process based on cooperative work and new ways of diffusing knowledge through digital technologies and collaborative tools. With the goal of making scientific research available to all. A goal that could be accomplished by publishing open scientific research, campaigning for open access, and making it easier to both publish and communicate knowledge and new findings. Finding ways of making research more transparent and accessible during the research process has become incredibly relevant for research about SARS-CoV2 and Covid-19. Open notebook science, citizen science, …

Join our final event!

Editorial Team RRI, STARBIOS2

Science is a part of society and co-evolves with it. But science-society relationships are changing, and biosciences are at the core of these changes. Join us for our final event on 29 May, when we discuss the changing relationship between science and society, and what this means for responsible research and innovation (RRI). Responsible Research in Biosciences: Challenges for mainstreaming 9.00-17.30, 29 May 2020 Transformations in post-modern societies and science production pose new challenges for governance that RRI, or similar approaches, can certainly contribute to face. This may me truer than ever in this period of great emergency related to COVID-19, and will probably continue to be true in the future. STARBIOS2 has worked for 4 years to produce RRI institutional or “structural” changes in several bioscience organizations. We have learned that for RRI mainstreaming to be successful, we need contextualisation on four levels: organizational, disciplinary/sectoral, geopolitical/cultural, and historical. The preliminary programme for our final event is now public, and we are looking forward to in-depth discussions on the changing science-society relations and what this means for bioscience, as well as the special COVID-19 themed event that same afternoon. The STARBIOS2 final event will be dedicated to discussing these challenges for mainstreaming of responsible research in biosciences. We hope to see you there! Register here! Find out who is speaking ➜ Have a look at the preliminary programme! Find out what we will be talking about ➜ Download the discussion note or our strategic document! Can’t make it? Fill out …

Bulgarian essay contest engages 234 students

Editorial Team RRI

Within the scope of STARBIOS2, the Plant Biotechnology Information Centre at Agrobioinstitute in Sofia, Bulgaria organised the third national annual essay contest for young people. This year 234 students from Bulgarian secondary schools, high schools and universities answered the call. The 2020 edition topic was “Climate is changing! And me?”. Essays from 53 Bulgarian towns were submitted and Bulgarians studying in Italy, Spain, Cyprus and the Netherlands also participated and elaborated their thoughts on climate change. “What was most interesting was the students’ personal attitude to the problem. They showed readiness and enthusiasm not only to ‘think globally’ but to ‘act locally’ to improve the environment. Starting in their own homes, backyards, schools, towns, and counties. And more importantly, doing their best to convince their families and friends to join them in their efforts” says Dimitar Dijilanov, professor at Agrobioinstitute and lead of PBIC and the STARBIOS2 work in Bulgaria. The winner essays are already available for download. Unfortunately, the official award ceremony will have to be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Bulgarians are currently in quarantine. But soon, the winners will be able to receive their proper congratulations and awards. “We are grateful to all students who submitted their essays, to their teachers, tutors and parents for this record breaking number of essays and their positive response,” says Dimitar Dijilanov.

RRI action on #PublicEngagement at ICGEB, Cape Town

Editorial Team RRI

Different contexts, different approaches to RRI. In this blog post, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) node in Cape Town describes their STARBIOS2 RRI approach. Find our more about the ICGEB approach in their chapter of the STARBIOS2 guideline. Main challenges In the busy and multi-dimensional schedule of a scientific institute, finding time to engage with the public is a challenge. Restructuring roles within the institute to have a dedicated person at the ICGEB Cape Town component, responsible for our communication and public engagement activities has resulted in increased public engagement. Focus on Public Engagement Contributing to a vibrant scientific community and disseminating knowledge and enthusiasm for science to the public are concepts integral to the ICGEB mission. Action plans in action ICGEB is actively engaged in disseminating science to the public. Our scientists, staff and students volunteer to participate in science fairs and events and to support local, national and international outreach activities, thereby enriching our work, deepening our contribution to the wider society, and aligning our mission to our environment. ICGEB also promotes public engagement and communicates science through the ‘Science & the City’ series. Lessons, meetings, courses and seminars organised by ICGEB are distributed freely through podcasts and on iTunes U, Apple’s digital platform. Collections cover topics from cancer research to stem cells, from basic molecular biology to cardiovascular diseases. Each month, over 11,000 users preview and download ICGEB’s scientific Films in over 80 countries worldwide. The ICGEB Cape Town Component will be launching Science …

RRI action on #OpenAccess and #PublicEngagement at the University of Primorska

Editorial Team RRI

Diffent contexts need different approaches to RRI implementation. What does RRI look like at the youngest public university in Slovenia? And more specifically, in biodiversity? Find out below, where the STARBIOS2 team at University of Primorska share their experiences. Read more about it in our guideline. Main challenges The University of Primorska (UP) is the youngest public university in Slovenia. Therefore, at the beginning of the STARBIOS2 project, the connection between the university, the researchers and the local community was weak. Moreover, the concept of responsible science was not yet fully established in everyday research and academic work. There were several challenges to overcome, for example, there was no formal RRI training included in BSc and MSc programmes. There was also a lack of understanding of open access among scientists, and we did not have any official document, such as a code of conduct, covering ethically sensitive work in conservation biology. Engagement and open access We have focused our activities on public engagement. Through the action plan, the STARBIOS2 team was able to increase awareness of biological scientific research in the local area by organising various events. We also worked to increase the participation of different stakeholders in the activities of the faculty. The aim of our activities was to increase acceptance and make different applications of life science research more understandable for end-users and the general public. In particular, the organisation of events on the “Growing UP in the Universe” helped to strengthen the link with local actors. Indirect …

RRI action on #AllRRIKeys at Agrobioinstitute, Sofia, Bulgaria

Editorial Team RRI

RRI implementation needs different approaches in different contexts. The STARBIOS2 guidelines offer many examples of this. Based in Sofia, Bulgaria, and with expertice in plant science, this is an overview of Agrobioinstitute’s experiences implementing RRI. Main challenges The main challenge was related to the fact that we promoted structural change by developing a new structure: The Plant biotechnology Information Center (PBIC). In this new structure, the STARBIIOS2 project’s core team took on a double role, making science and promoting RRI in science at the same time! Focus on Full RRI package The PBIC was established as a focal point and to serve as the engine for all RRI activities of the Agrobioinstitute, both internal activities and our outreach. We decided to develop activities to cover all RRI keys: Public engagement, gender, open access, science education, and ethics. Overcoming obstacles There was a lack or limited experience in RRI activities, both within the ABI team and in the Bulgarian scientific society as a whole. We also needed to deal with a deep societal distrust to modern plant biotechnology approaches. Furthermore, both young people, and a predominant part of the educational system, seem to lack interest in plant science, which hampered active networking with schools and universities. In addition, we had difficulties convincing scientists to communicate with the public, and the response from public institutions and administration was slow, and sometimes a bit “clumsy”. Another major obstacle that plant bioscientists need to navigate is related to public distrust, and prejudice about GMOs …

CANCELLED: STARBIOS2 Cape Town workshop

Editorial Team RRI

We regret to announce that the STARBIOS2 Cape Town workshop scheduled for 16-17 March 2020 has been cancelled due to the corona virus outbreak. More information will follow. Should you have any questions, please contact Mariet Wium (), or Claudia Russo () at ICGEB Cape Town.

RRI action on #Gender at University of Oxford & NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre

Editorial Team RRI

Continuing to tell the story of lessons learned during STARBIOS2, in connection to International Women’s Day 2020, we thought we would share more #Gender action. This time in another context, using a different approach! Main challenges Achieving structural change in a very large organization with comparatively small resources relative to the size of the organization. Aligning our activities under the RRI banner with many other similar activities driven by different actors under different banners. Address all five RRI keys simultaneously with limited resources and time. Focus on Gender We focused on gender because it was tied into the objectives of our organisation under the remit of our funder – the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). The drive to develop and implement Athena SWAN gender equality action plans in our organisation provided an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the ongoing activities. The project catalysed change by aligning its objectives with the objectives of Athena SWAN. The most significant example of structural change has been benchmarking gender as part of the organisational performance metrics. Overcoming obstacles Given that activities pertaining to all five RRI keys were already well established in our organization before the project, we did not have to convince internal stakeholders of their value. Our main obstacle was to develop enough capacity to catalyse change because the work packages were ambitious and lacked sufficient resources to achieve change at scale. We overcame this obstacle by securing strong support, additional resources, and staff time from the NIHR Oxford …