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RRI in practice: a European tour

Three inspiring stories of citizens and researchers working together for better and more ethical healthcare.

Can you imagine our society without antibiotics and computers? Researchers like Alexander Fleming and Ada Lovelace greatly impacted our way of living, and daily discoveries of modern scientists are shaping our future right now. But should science and technology be the exclusive business of scientists? Should they bear this huge social responsibility on their own? Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI – see this introductory article if you’ve never heard of it) doesn’t think so. RRI defends that responsibility must be equally shared with politicians, industries and citizens to define together the direction society has to take and to make sure the research and political agendas will take us there. This social approach to the rapidly evolving scientific landscape can be broadly defined by 6 umbrella-terms: engagement, ethics, gender equality, science education, open access and governance.

This sounds great in theory, but what does Responsible Research and Innovation look like in practice and how is it understood and applied at local level?
 
‘Beyond the Lab: The DIY science revolution’, a Europe-wide traveling exhibition created by EU-funded Sparks project, is promoting RRI in an unconventional way. It showcases seven stories which present the contributions of common citizens to scientific research and three artworks created in residency as a result of collaborations between artists and researchers to address stringent societal issues and envisage the future use of new technologies in health and medicine. In order to boost the eclectic dimensions of ‘Beyond the Lab’ and make it resonate with the local context, each venue hosting the exhibition pledged to present a local example of how RRI is or can be applied in research in the field of medicine and healthcare.
 
We talked to three Sparks partners – the Luxemburg Science Center (Luxembourg), Tycho Brahe Planetarium (Denmark) and Parque de las Ciencias (Spain) – and to researchers involved in local case studies showcased in the exhibition. From developing mobile apps that organise medical data for patients to addressing ethical issues in space research, RRI examples are blooming in European cities and regions. Let us take you on a tour of wonderful examples of engagement and collaboration between citizens and scientists, open access to ethical research and good governance frameworks.

Read the full article in Spokes #23

Events date: 
Thursday, October 20, 2016