The final RRI-practice meeting was held in Padova the last week of March. Ellen-Marie Forsberg, a co-coordinator of the RRI-practice project, and Alexei Grinbaum, one of the principal researchers, spoke about the project and about responsible research and innovation to the reporter from “Il Bo Live” – an online newspaper of University of Padova.
Ellen-Marie spoke about the need to “be responsible in the way we conduct research and innovation. This is not just about research to help solve societal challenges, but also to prevent research and innovation from having negative effects. In the project we study and support strategies to make RRI practices operational in different organisations, both those conducting the research and those financing it.” She added that “the results of the RRI-practice will include many descriptions of good practices that can guide research organisations and institutions to implement the RRI, both in the field of funding allocation and in the real research field.” The project will also communicate to the European Commission and to national funding bodies how to support the RRI.
Alexei Grinbaum suggested that Padova could be considered the birthplace of a responsible approach to research and innovation, as it was here that Moses Luzzatto, a student of the Padova university, wrote his most famous treatise ‘The path of the just’ in the eighteenth century. The most important concept contained in the treatise is that of ‘vigilance’ (watchfulness), or the ability to remain lucid. It is here that, according to Alexei, the values of responsibility for research, and in particular for research ethics, which are now adopted in the directives of the European Union are rooted. Research ethics involves two parts: scientists and the general public. “Scientists need to ask ‘how should we approach society about the research and innovation we are responsible for?’ The general public, on the other hand, is aware that science transforms society very quickly, but often technologies remain black boxes whose operation is unknown, even the smartphone. How and why should society trust you? These are the two questions that keep science and society together and that mark the need for responsible research and innovation.”
The entire article “Ricerca e innovazione responsabili: idee messe in pratica” can be accessed on this link, but note that it is written in Italian language. However, two short videos on which you can see the complete comments made by Ellen-Marie and Alexei are in English!