Session 4: The (transformative) impact of RRI

Organised by Susanne Bührer

The topic of impact is high on the agenda of national and European research policy. Research funders, as well as research organizations and individual researchers, are increasingly asking themselves what contribution science can or should make to politics, society, culture and the economy. This is often discussed under the heading of the “new social contract of science,” and this session intends to address the specific question whether an approach such as RRI, which specifically aims to improve the links between science and society, generates different kinds of impact or in other ways than pure curiosity-driven and peer-centered science does.

Given the multitude of (well-known) challenges of impact analyses (attribution problem, measurement problem in terms of data availability, understanding the dynamics, comparability of results, aggregation, adequacy of indicators as well as timing problems (The European Court of Auditors 2008: Annex I)), this impact session presented current reflections about which kinds of impacts are most likely to be generated by RRI and what methodological and conceptual approaches exist that can reasonably capture such impacts. 

However, this session was not just about passing knowledge unilaterally to the audience. On the contrary, the aim of the session was to validate and / or adopt the findings generated so far based on a critical feedback by various stakeholder groups. To this end, in addition to the keynote presentations, breakout sessions were organized on the following main topics: 

  1. What are your personal examples for impacts generated by RRI? 
  2. Can impact pathways help us to open the black box between an RRI-activity and the results? If so, how? If not, what are the alternatives? 
  3. What kind of impact dimensions can be strengthened and how? 

Read the Executive Summary

Watch the recorded session