STARBIOS2 workshop on RRI in Africa

Editorial Team RRI

Is there a place for responsible research and innovation in African research institutions? With STARBIOS2 experiences in mind, the team at University of Rome Tor Vergata organised the workshop “RRI in Africa: Challenges and perspectives” to find out. To achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Developmental Goals, we need responsible research and innovation (RRI). But how do we implement RRI in African bioscience research institutions? At the RRI in Africa workshop, STARBIOS2 gained insights from the experiences of STARBIOS2 members, research and innovation collaboration projects between Italy and Africa, and African students. Among the around 80 participants were professors and PhD students in Europe and Africa, STARBIOS2 members, rectors of the Somali National University and Evangelic University of Cameroon, representatives of Italian universities (Camerino, Modena, Rome La Sapienza, Rome Tor Vergata, Padua, Parma, Pavia and others) and research institutions (CNR), and UNESCO. Focusing on RRI implementation in biosciences, some topics of discussion were the RRI approach, the specificity of RRI in Africa, experiences from higher education in Cameroon and Italy, student mobility, and scientific projects of Africa PhD students enrolled in Italian universities. The discussions resulted in some theories on how to best develop a plan for RRI implementation in African research institutions, and the conclusion that there may be a need to re-think the European strategy for RRI in the African context. Daniele Mezzana

Featured Image STARBIOS2 Technical Assistance

What is the role of Technical Assistance Team in STARBIOS2?

Editorial Team STARBIOS2

  Could you shortly describe your organisation, and who is involved in STARBIOS2 project? Our institute, Laboratory of Citizenship Science (LSC), is an association of researchers, trainers, knowledge managers and research project designers based in Rome, Italy. LSC works for promoting a better integration of social sciences perspectives in the spheres of scientific and technological research and for developing a better understanding of the social phenomena emerging in the interaction amongst science, technology and society. In STARBISOS2 project LSC is in charge of supporting the 6 Action Plans teams that are promoting a structural change toward RRI in their institutes, through a set of Technical Assistance (TA) activities. Furthermore LSC participates also in the development of a learning process for the whole project that will lead to design a model for RRI in biosciences. The Technical Assistance team is composed by Giovanni Caiati and Claudia Colonnello who are directly involved in the ordinary implementation of the TA activities. Furthermore our team includes other LSC experts who carry out back-office activities concerning the management and the scientific supervision. What is your role as technical assistance? Our role is to assist the Action Plans teams in order to successfully drive the Action Plans all along the project from the design phase to their completion. In practice we support the teams for coping with emerging problems or to benefit from emerging opportunities; we provide specific expertise on RRI and its 5 keys also suggesting and offering contacts with experts outside the consortium; we …

Celebrating IWD 2018 and Science Education Day in STARBIOS2

Editorial Team STARBIOS2

International Women’s Day 2018 Last week on the 8th of March the world celebrated the International Women’s Day (IWD). STARBIOS2 partners took part in this year’s campaign #PressForProgress, a strong call to unite and motivate everyone to think, act and be gender inclusive. In STARBIOS2, our first aim is to contribute to the advancement of the RRI (Responsible Research and Innovation) which underpins Horizon 2020. RRI includes 5 key issues – Education, Gender, Ethics, Societal Engagement and Open Access  – each of them are intertwined and their successful application lead to the bigger goal of the STARBIOS2 project: conceiving and implementing Action Plans (APs) oriented to attain RRI structural change in 6 institutions active in the field of Biosciences. This is how Starbios2 partners celebrated IWD!                                   Science Education Day On Science Education Day (14 of March) we were happy to thank and show gratitude to all the teachers, educators, scientists, researchers and everyone who shares their passion for science with children and adults. STARBIOS2 partners are one of those people, as the Consortium consists mainly of scientists in different spheres of Biosciences. As Science Education is one of the key issues of RRI, we grabbed the opportunity to thank our outstanding partners for promoting Science Education!   And you, how did you celebrate International Woman’s day and Science Education Day? Write us in the comments! To receive more updates on the STARBIOS2 project, follow us on Twitter and Facebook! You …

STARBIOS2 Education UG

Education in Biosciences, experience of the University of Gdansk, Poland

Editorial Team Education, RRI

How do you understand Education in biosciences research? Education is a vital aspect of the Responsible Research and Innovation concept. In order to build responsible relations with the society, there is a need for a certain level of science literacy in the society. On the one hand the scientists need to be aware of the need of communicating with other members of society, on the other hand the society needs educational interventions in order to be able to receive the information from scientists. What are the current standards and actions to achieve better Education on biosciences in your country and in your University? In Poland there are numerous initiatives to popularize science among society, e.g. science picnics, science festivals, open days in research institutions. Also some media such as TV, newspapers or radio broadcasts focus on familiarizing the society with the new discoveries of science. At University we organise special events such as debates on GMO, Biologists Night, Baltic Science Festival and other in order to broaden knowledge on biotechnology. Also special seminars and lectures on current problems in science are organised regularly. What are you aiming for with the implementation of the STARBIOS2 actions towards better Education standards for your institute? Our goal is to raise awareness about the issues covered by the RRI concept among stakeholders in Poland. An awareness raising campaign will be promoted locally at the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG & MUG, at the University of Gdańsk and beyond and will be dedicated to specific …

Open Access Biosciences STARBIOS2

Open Access in Biosciences seen by the University of Bremen, Germany

Editorial Team Open Access, RRI

How do you understand Open Access in biosciences research?  Besides scientific publications of research results, the free access to databases for sequences of bio molecules like DNA, RNA and proteins is crucial for the field of biosciences. Whereas the access to most genomic databases is already free, the Open Access to research publications is still on the way. “If I saw further than other men it was because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.” This quotation from Isaac Newton shows that research is always based on the results of previous research. The access to scientific publications is a prerequisite for any research activity. Open Access provides the free and unrestricted access to scientific publications via the internet. This is not just a benefit for the research community itself, but also for the society as a whole: every interested person has access to scientific research results. What are the current standards and actions to achieve better Open Access in your University and in your country? The “Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities” from 2003 is one important milestone in establishing Open Access in the German science system. All big science institutions in Germany – e. g. Max Planck Society, Helmholtz-Association and German Research Foundation– are among the first who signed in the declaration. Up to date more than 550 German and international institutions have signed in and admit to support and foster Open Access. The University of Bremen sets up an Open Access …

STARBIOS2 Education University of Primorska

Education and RRI: experience of the University of Primorska, Slovenia

Editorial Team Education, RRI

How do you understand Education in biosciences research? Education is, to our opinion, main link between biosciences research and transfer of obtained knowledge to next generation of scientists. This process is deep-rooted but not necessarily made explicit and it should be exploited much more effectively for the benefit of all involved stakeholders. The best way of enhancing the motivation of both academics and students is linking research and teaching and furthermore transferring this knowledge not only to students but also to broader public. What are the current standards and actions to achieve better Education in your University and in your country? Studies at the University of Primorska are based on modern teaching methods and are carried out in various forms, such as lectures, seminars, exercises (field work, laboratories), tutorials and independent study. Teaching and learning processes are based on proactive methods that encourage students to critically evaluate their acquired knowledge and skills and are focused on the integration of education and research. International cooperation and mobility of academics and researchers is one of the basic policies of our University. We also promote mobility within existing schemes (Erasmus+, CEEPUS) and within bilateral agreements on different levels (national, university and faculty). What are you aiming for with the implementation of the STARBIOS2 actions towards better Education standards for your institute? At the University of Primorska, we are implementing key actions of the ‘Science with and for Society’ by connecting together researchers, citizens, policy makers, business and third sector organizations. We believe that all societal actors working together could …


Ethics and RRI: the experience of UNITOV, Italy

Editorial Team Ethics, RRI

Dr Carla Montesano – Assistant Professor of General Pathology and Immunology, member of STARBIOS2 Coordination Team, and responsible for the STARBIOS2 Action Plan of University of Rome – Tor Vergata Taking into account the Italian context, what are the objectives of the STARBIOS2 team regarding the relationship between ethics and RRI? In Italy, as is known, ethics in the biosciences sector is regulated by law at the national level and specific activities, such as the use of animals and biological samples of human origin, the generation and use of GMOs, are controlled by specific control committees. Within the framework of the STARBIOS2 project at the Department of Biology of the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, we intend to raise awareness among young researchers on ethical issues, increasing the perception of ethics as a useful way for improving the research (in a qualitative sense): this to say that the adoption of an ethical practice in research means that research results and products are socially accepted. Furthermore, we aim to involve young researchers and PhD students in the ethics debate, as an important RRI key. The idea is to organize a “Bioethic open lab”, that is a permanent and open working group in the Department of Biology, for working out ethical issues regarding the biosciences. Which institution, within your university, is promoting this reflection? The “UNESCO interdisciplinary Chair in Biotechnology”, active since twenty years in the Department of Biology of University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, has carried out research related to the …

Featured Image STARBIOS2 Blog Gender University of Bremen

Gender in Biosciences Research, University of Bremen

Editorial Team Gender, RRI

How do you understand Gender in biosciences research? Women are under-represented in research generally, and in STEM occupations specifically. The explanations for these patterns vary from discrimination of women and “glass-ceiling” effects, to implications of gender differences in household and family, and to modern men and women making different choices due to different life values and life priorities. Historically, natural science has been perceived as a male domain. Today, gender in biology study programs is balanced up to and including the doctoral level (see Figure 1 – the proportion of men and women in Faculty 02 Biology and Chemistry at the University of Bremen). The critical point is the retention of women in and after the postdoctoral career level. In average, in academic biosciences in Germany only 15 per cent of Professors are female. The “leak” of women from the science pipeline means a regrettable waste of expertise. Gender diversity enriches scientific enquiry, promotes excellence, and opens the horizon for societal contextualized questions and research. What are the current standards and actions to achieve better Gender in the University of Bremen? The Action Plan of Science 2020 of the Senator of Science and Research of the Federal State of Bremen states the need of cultivating a more gender-balanced environment at the institutions of higher education. Gender inequality in scientific careers undermines the principles of fairness, equality of opportunity and social justice. Therefore, structural principles to cover gender-political measurements are in the core of the recently launched Diversity Strategy of the …

STARBIOS2 Blog Open Access in Biosciences UG

Open Access in Biosciences Research, Gdansk University

Editorial Team Open Access, RRI

How do you understand Open Access in biosciences research?   Open Access (OA) is providing a free-of-charge access to research results – scientific publications –  via online access. Individuals and institutions that would otherwise not easily have access to research findings gain knowledge about new discoveries when these information are disseminated in OA. This increases the benefit for society: research findings can be accessed, used and reused, further developed by scientists from different backgrounds and disciplines as well as by non-scientists. What are the current standards and actions to achieve better Open Access in your University and in your country? The Polish Ministry for Science and Higher Education supports OA and recommends its implementation by research institutions. Several reports have been published on the state-of-the-art of OA in Poland. There are units and initiatives strongly supporting the development of OA in Poland, such as  Platform for Open Science, Coalition for Open Education. Recently, the University of Gdańsk has adopted its policy on OA. What are you aiming for with the implementation of the STARBIOS2 actions towards better Open Access standards for your institute? Our goal is to support an institution-wide strategy towards improved OA to the results worked out by our scientists. We believe that OA is only possible with the joint efforts of authors, editors, librarians, supporting staff, and funders. In our project activities we focus on rising awareness among scientists on the importance and benefits of OA. At the same time, we conduct actions aimed at educating authors …