From May, 22nd to 23rd 2018 the Social Lab on “RRI in the ERC and basic research” held its 1st Workshop of project took place in Vienna at the Institute for Advanced Studies.
The Workshop convened 18 stakeholders from research ‑ including ERC grantees, team members and applicants ‑, research funding organizations and Civil Society Organization to develop pilot activities which might help to implement elements of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the ERC and, more generally, in research funding organizations focusing on basic research.
The participants started with getting familiar with the concept of RRI and discussed the notion of responsibility in basic research and its connection with excellence. Participants highly appreciated the work of the ERC in basic research funding and wanted to keep its uniqueness in terms of autonomy and bottom up funding of curiosity driven research. Nevertheless, they also perceived a need for change in basic research towards RRI, particularly in terms of public engagement, societal impact and interdisciplinarity. In a series of alternating plenary sessions and work in small groups the participants of the Social Lab produced altogether eleven ideas to strengthen RRI in basic research which then were condensed and further developed into three draft pilot activities.
Pilot Action 1: “Excellent Research – Excellent Impact”
The pilot action focuses on public engagement in research. Its objective is dissemination of science to the general public and to generate more acceptance of RRI among scientists. The pilot activity addresses the current constraints of time and resources researchers and research institutions are increasingly experiencing today and the fact that there is skepticism amongst researchers about disseminating their findings. The group suggested earmarking a certain amount to dissemination activities.
Pilot Action 2: COR! – Collaborative Open Research
The pilot action suggests providing secondments to ERC projects from institution that would be potentially affected by and could be users of research results, e.g. policy makers, CSOs. Bringing together researchers with potential users could lead to co-production of knowledge. This could help seeding research in institutions which deal with a problem that is being studied (e.g., the EU or the Organisation of African Unity). The objective and shared intention and aspiration of the pilot action is to break down barriers and open up research via multiple pathways between user/CSO, scientists/researcher and different disciplines and to add reflexivity to project life-cycles. The pilot action addresses the vision of co-production, dissemination, cross-fertilization, against linear/closed model of knowledge production.
Pilot Action 3: RRI to improve excellence of ERC
The pilot action aims to improve excellence by looking for ways to implement elements of RRI in the ERC. A prerequisite for this endeavor is to enter into a dialogue with ERC and to assemble scattered evidence and practices of RRI (inside/outside the ERC).
Techno-Science and Societal Transformation Head of Research Group, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, Austria
Social Lab 1 ERC manager