December 17, 2018

Social Lab 8: Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy (FOOD)

What is a Social Lab?


Horizon 2020 pillar: Societal Challenges

Description of FOOD Programme

The FOOD Programme is an approximately EUR 3.7 billion programme of the EC Horizon 2020 (H2020) research and innovation (R&I) framework programme 8 (FP8). The FOOD programme aspires: “to secure sufficient supplies of safe, healthy and high-quality food and other bio-based products, by developing productive,sustainable and resource-efficient primary production systems, fostering related ecosystem services and the recovery of biological diversity, alongside competitive and low-carbon supply, processing and marketing chains.”

Potential benefits of RRI for FOOD Programme Participants

The FOOD programme stands to benefit from RRI practices of public and stakeholder engagement to support what the EC terms “inclusive innovation” supported by “multi-actor approaches” to “ensure the necessary cross-fertilising interactions between researchers, businesses,farmers/producers, advisors and end-users.” Issues of gender inequality are closely related to social and technical dimensions of food systems, from production to consumption and beyond. The resources, knowledge, cultures, and technologies associated with FOOD touch people’s lives multiple times per day, making science education and science literacy aspects of RRI critical to the collaborative development of visions for resource sustainability. The scale of system-wide transformations implicated by FOOD R&I mean that Open to the World approaches, supported by Open Science initiatives could support effective coordination and collective action. Finally, the need for local, regional, national, and international action associated with food-resource and bio-based economy sustainability makes attention to governance vital for FOOD programming to meaningfully contribute to long-lived and effective transformation supported by research and innovation.

Social Lab Aspirations

Social Lab 8 mobilizes a range of people associated with FOOD from across Europe, including national research managers, professors, labour and industry representatives, and policy officials. Participants share a common mission to learn about and enhance responsible research and innovation in FOOD R&I.

Social Lab workshops

Workshop 1

Date: 30-31 May 2018

Place: Tromsø, Norway

Description of the workshop

Workshop 2

Date: 19 & 20 February 2019

Place: Tromsø, Norway

Overview of the workshop

Workshop 3

Date: 4 & 5 March 2020

Place: Tromsø, Norway

Description of the workshop

Pilot actions

Pilot Action 1: StepUp

This pilot action aims at developing a concept for a transnational R&I call with focus on stakeholder engagement in a European network of funders. It consists of 3 phases: 1) preparation 2) event 3) follow-up and writing concept paper.
As output, the team expects to produce a concept paper for a funding activity and a general paper/recommendation for European networks in general to support stakeholder engagement in research.
Moreover it is expected to set the base among an international network of funders/ common ground for a future funding activity; knowledge sharing; raising awareness.

Pilot Action 2: STEM

The transdisciplinary research process connects scientific knowledge production and societal problem handling (Pohl et al. 2017). This approach requires a co-production of knowledge between researchers, practitioners and lay people, and is closely aligned to Responsible Research and Innovation EC keys: public engagement and science education. In general, to ensure that project efforts truly align with the aspirations and interests of all the stakeholders, and genuinely serve the above mentioned RRI keys, a dynamic well-functioning involvement of relevant stakeholders is imperative. Depending on the case, the stakeholders will be requested to focus on actual research questions, participate on relevant activities and develop innovative solutions, thus generating ownership to the question in hand. This most likely promotes the take up of the resulting solutions amongst practitioners and may also narrow the gap between scientific community and lay people, in particular, in the case of controversial research questions. The objective of this pilot action is to assess, test and share experiences of existing stakeholder platforms, using two projects in starting phase as cases (gene technology in aquaculture, digital innovation in agriculture).

Pilot Action 3: Confession Time

Multi-Actor Approaches (MAA) are core of many H2020 funded projects as driver of bottom-up and grounded innovative solutions . With the direct involvement in the project activities of different end users and multipliers, MAA projects “focus on real problems or opportunities that farmers, foresters or others who need a solution are facing. It also means that partners with complementary types of knowledge – scientific, practical and other – must join forces in the project activities from beginning to end” (EIP-Agri, 2017).
The co-construction process of MAAs project is complicated, as it requires the creation of innovation networks, where individuals meet to bring forward and co-create knowledge on selected topics (Martinez de Arano et al., 2018). Some of the crucial objective to be achieved are:
• Guarantee information exchanges across the network;
• Foster a co-learning process among the network members;
• Maintain internal trust and cooperation across members.
• Managing stakeholder expectations

The objective of this pilot action is to develop an interactive module to allow running projects sharing experiences on implemented MAAs: “the coordinators´ café”

Pilot Action 4: BIAS^2

The pilot action BIAS^2 aims at raising awareness about the existence and implications of bias in our working group, lab, office etc. Colleagues and friends will be invited to take conscious awareness of their own biases, without proposing solutions or “cures”; indeed, a responsible scientist will recognize the potential for one or more bias to interfere with his/her work, with his objectivity to tackle scientific questions and build knowledge.

Legislative changes have made discrimination illegal in most Countries, but we are facing a second-generation of bias (implicit bias) which refers to subtle forms of inherent and unconscious bias . Past studies indicate that people’s behavior is shaped by implicit or unintended biases, stemming from repeated exposure to pervasive cultural stereotypes . Biases based on race, nationality, religion, class, age, sex, and sexual orientation (to cite a few examples) may unintentionally guide our thoughts and actions .
Ending this second-generation bias is hard because people alike do not realize discrimination is taking place, or deny that it is occurring . That is, even when people are truthful, self-reports can only reflect what they believe about their orientations, whereas implicit measures bypass this limitation. Implicit biases are thought to be automatic not only in the sense that they are fast-acting, but also because they can operate without intention (i.e., are involuntary and uncontrollable), and conscious awareness . The confidence that our judgments are objective is not a guarantee that judgments are actually objective, because so many of our biases are unconscious, and this simple statement has – alone – many implications for a scientist . This can obviously strongly affect how science is practiced and guided in the lab and at academic and other research and innovation institutions.

Managers and facilitators

Social Lab Manager: Michael Bernstein, Scientist, GenØk, Tromsø, Norway

Social Lab Facilitator: Fern Wickson, Senior Scientist, GenØk, Tromsø, Norway