Responsibility in research & innovation. Challenges for the biosciences and future policies
ResBios Final Conference – In partnership with EURADA (European Association of Development Agencies), and the Horizon 2020 project TetRRIS – Territorial Responsible Research and Innovation and Smart Specialisation.
Date : December 7, 2022
Location : Rue Montoyer, 24 – 1000 Brussels
The event is organized in the context of the project ResBios “Responsible research and innovation grounding practices in Biosciences”, coordinated by the University of Rome – Tor Vergata and funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (Grant Agreement No. 872146).
ResBios is embedding Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) practices within four universities and research institutions in the field of Biosciences in four European countries (Croatia, Greece, Spain, and Ukraine). This takes place through the implementation of 15 RRI Grounding Actions, to achieve sustainable institutional changes. The Grounding Actions (GAs) are related to RRI keys and take into consideration the Sustainable Development Goals. The project, strongly oriented to mutual learning, is focused on biosciences, as they are one of the crossroads in the relationship between science and society. An International Network for Responsible Biosciences is on launch, together with a Manifesto.
The final conference of ResBios is aimed at:
• Discussing the key themes of the science-society relationship, with particular regard to biosciences, in the light of the proposals of the ResBios Manifesto.
•Presenting the main ResBios results.
• Exchanging ideas and practices with other projects and experiences.
•Reflecting with European decision-makers and stakeholders on policies regarding responsible research & innovation and Open Science.
•Presenting the International Network for Responsible Biosciences promoted by the project.
The University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture introduces a new program: “Assessment of damage to agricultural crops caused by game species”
As the human race continues to grow and develop, the world is starting to seem much smaller. With the human population predicted to reach 8 billion by the end of 2022/ start of 2023, and as land management practices change, this has resulted in the degradation and fragmentation of natural habitats and the encroaching of animals and people into each other’s environment, the frequency of human-wildlife interaction will continue to increase. As a result, the way that we manage the boarders between humanity and wilderness will need to change.
One way of managing habitat and animal populations is through the implementation of legal game hunting, and in this article, we will discuss the policy and practices adopted by the Croatian government, and how our partners from the University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture are working together with hunters to determine the extent of the damage caused by changes in game population.
To help tackle this issue, the Croatian government enacted the Croatian Hunting Act (N.N. 99/18), this allows for citizens to acquire legal permission to hunt game species; defined by law as animal that live freely in nature, intended for cultivation and reproduction for the purpose of hunting and exploitation, and includes species such as wild boar and deer.
However, as part of this licensing agreement, the hunting community takes on the responsibility for any damages these game species inflict onto the environment that is deemed “financially unacceptable”. The most common reasons why game animals cause damage are their excessive numbers, unfavorable habitat conditions, or lack of food, and any damage caused to the environment that these animals cause, the hunting association affiliated with these regions would have to pay compensation. As well as this, under the same act, any persons authorized to hunt as legal entities, or persons who have acquired the right to hunt on the basis of the Hunting Act are obliged to take prescribed measures to prevent damage caused by game.
The University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture is a higher education institution with a century-long tradition of conducting lifelong learning programs in various fields of agriculture in Croatia, and recently they have worked alongside environment and agricultural stakeholders to develop a training program for appraisers and forensic experts, on the “Assessment of damage to agricultural crops caused by game”.
This training enables participants to acquire basic theoretical and practical knowledge of assessing game damage to agricultural crops. Participants will learn about the legal provisions, current case law, the economic characteristics of agricultural land, as well as the biology and ecology of game species and the characteristics of damage they cause. As participants progress through this program they wil also be provided background knowledge on how to prepare business plans and calculating damages from game in agricultural production as well as the basics of occupational safety (protection from pesticides, electrocution hazards, fire safety) and legal requirements.
This teaching program will also have special emphasis placed on field work, where participants will learn how and in what ways to identify and assess game damage to agricultural production and ways to appropriately use protective means (electric fencing, chemical repellents) in the control of game damage.
This teaching program will be open to anyone but will have a specific focus on those within the hunting community who would like to take a more hands on approach to how to assess and mitigate the damage caused by game species. Learn more about this program by clicking here
In addition, the University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture team are also partnering with the Mammal Net project, a citizen science initiative where the general public can help monitor mammal population and distributions. Anyone with an interest in taking part can simply download the app onto their smartphone, and by simply taking a picture of any mammals you see and uploading these images to the app, can provide invaluable data on mammal population and distribution and help researchers gain a better understanding of biodiversity across Europe.
So, if you are interested in learning more about the environment and wish to get involved, there is nothing stopping you! Anyone can be a citizen scientist!
A big thank you to Lovački vjesnik for sharing information about the work that our partners from the the University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture is doing in their June 2022 edition, volume number 131.
Promoting sustainability literacy in science education
ResBios partners attend EDULEARN22 International Education Conference in July.
Earlier this month, the 14th annual EDULEARN22 Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies was hosted in Palma de Mallorca (Spain). This three-day conference was a fantastic opportunity for lecturers, researchers, technologists and professionals from over 80 countries to come and share their knowledge on teaching and learning methodologies and educational innovations. which they have gained from personal experience. This was a great example of the benefits of mutual learning, and an opportunity to learn new approaches to make sure that the next generation of teachers and students are given the best tools to deal with the issues they currently face, and those they may face in the future!
We are very proud to say that our Resbios partners from the University of Bremen (UB) were amongst these experts and industrial leaders in education. The team from UB are one of institutes in charge of the project’s work packages regarding education, and are also one of our RRI mentors.
From this team, Prof Doris Elster, Professor of Science Education at UB presented the findings from a new initiative they have started at their institution, a new Master’s study programme promoting Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Sustainability Literacy (SL) at the University of Bremen, with the course focusing on inquiry-based teacher Education for a Sustainable Future.
Biodiversity loss and climate change are two of the mayor world challenges the planet is currently facing, and something that needs to be addressed quickly. The impacts climate change will have on biodiversity will not be a gradual process, as the climate changes in certain regions, the species and biodiversity present will be able to cope in the short term, but once these regions reach a certain point these environments will be facing conditions they have never faced before, putting many species at risk of going extinct in these regions (1). The ways climate and the environment interact with one another are incredible complicated and require system level thinking to consider all the impacts these changes will have upon society, and to develop the solutions we need to take as global citizens.
This system level thinking approach is a major component of the new Master’s study programme at UB, the next generation of science teachers have a crucial part to play in changing societal attitudes and inspiring the experts of the future to come up with the possible solutions needed to maintain the long-term health of our planet. But how do we promote sustainable literacy in biology teachers?
The team at UB developed their one semester INQUIRE course for trainee biology teachers, created using the Sustainability Literacy Framework for Teachers (SEFT), which consists of 4 key components:
The ability to think systematically about the future and future generations and how past decisions led us to the crises we face today.
Considers cascading effects, system variables, positively and negatively feedback looping. How variables are interconnected?
Value-focused, orientation and/or ethical thinking. How values influence (sustainable) problem solutions?
Considers possible solutions under a given set of assumption. Which solutions are possible and appropriate?
 Warren et al. (2015)
To consolidate these thought processes, the course teaches their students how to approach issues using the Syndrome Approach; a multidisciplinary analytic tool for identifying unsustainable developments and environmental problems in earth systems by considering them as disease patterns. From these “symptoms” you can then create network that represents the environmental problems and the comprehensible relationships between these issues from different view points, in the hopes of condensing these connections focusing the most crucial ecological, socio-cultural, and economic dimensions, using the following three step process:
1. Defining elements
2. Connecting elements
3. Defining possible solutions
One such example used on the course was defining the impacts of industrial fishing on albatross and tuna populations, defining the societal and environmental issues, and presenting potential solutions and develop approaches that could either benefit, or at least reduce the impact of these changes on both the fishermen whose livelihood could rely on this industry, and the environmental costs of these practices.
The education students who participated in the INQUIRE course were surveyed before they started and after they had completed the programme, trainee teachers were asked to share their level of confidence in regards to their knowledge on sustainable literacy and the four key aspects of the SEFT framework. The results from these surveys show a general increase in the level of confidence the participants had in their knowledge of SI, and considerably improved confidence in the system thinking and futures thinking aspects of the SEFT framework, although a much less considerable increase in the areas of value thinking and strategic thinking.
Education is one of the key tenets of the RRI framework, and ensuring that teachers are fully equipped with the expertise they need to convey the complicated issues the world is currently facing, and the potential treats we may face in the future to their students, to create well informed members of society who have all the capabilities they need to make informed decisions on the future of the planet. The approach used by UB in the creation of their INQUIRE teaching course has the potential to promote this high-level system thinking and improve sustainable literacy, and should be considered as pedagogical strategy when developing training courses for all teachers.
Trisos, C.H., Merow, C. & Pigot, A.L. The projected timing of abrupt ecological disruption from climate change. Nature 580, 496–501 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2189-9
A. E. Warren, L. Archanbault, T., “Sustainability education framework for teachers: Developing sustainability literacy through futures, values, systems, and strategic knowledge.” Journal of Sustainability
Education, pp. 1-14, 2014.
On June 23rd, our friends at the University of Gdańsk were our fantastic hosts for our most recent ResBios Steering Committee meeting. Over these two days, representatives from each organisation of the ResBios consortium met either in person or online, and this was a great opportunity for all of the ResBios project partners to catch up and see what each of us have achieved over the past six months, as well as set a course for the final period of the project.
The meeting kicked off with a wonderful introduction to the University of Gdasnk from from dr hab. Ewelina Król prof. UG, Dean of the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology and Medical University of Gdańsk, and then the work begun.
We were first presented a project overview ResBios coordinator, Daniele Mezzana, from Università degli studi di Roma Tor Vergata (UNITOV), and how ResBios has transitioned from phase 3 focusing on the upscaling and dissemination of the key project goals, to phase 4- securing the long term legacy of ResBios.
Following this overview, we then took a deeper dive into the work that the partners have done in regards to each of the project’s grounding actions (GA’s):
Presented by Nataliia Sybirna from the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (INFUL)– In order to popularize innovations and responsible research in the biological sciences, the Department of Biochemistry of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv has launched a YouTube channel. This channel provides dissemination of scientific and educational information among students and graduate students of the university, school teachers who participate in events organized within the framework of RESBIOS, members of the Junior Academy of Sciences and other members of the society. Recently, videos about reference managers Zotero and Mendeley, educational videos for students about the biochemical properties of proteins, a recording of a meeting with a cosmetologist and a teacher at the beauty center “New You” were added to the platform. In addtion to this, INFUL has developed two workshops on pharmaceuticals and house chemicals in schools. INFUL recently organised a round table discussion on “Innovation and innovative technologies in the biological sciences as a basis for creating startups”, featuring a recent bioscience graduate, CEO and founder of InSpirito – Yevhen Filyak.
Open Access and Ethics
Elena Buzan from the University of Primoska – Within these work packages and GA’s lots of work has been done across the consortium, including; the publication of a Code of Conduct and plagiarism policy at INFUL, a policy on Open Access and a plagerism system at University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture (UNIZG-FAZ), and a Open Access and Open Innovation policy at the Democritus University of Thrace, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics (DUTH). In addition to the creation of these documents, these insitites have also been developing lectures, workshops and post graduate training courses on bioethics, integrity, and open access.
Citizen Engagement and Gender equality
Janire Salazar from Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC). ResBios partners from CSIC and DUTH were very eager to talk about the success of recent public engagement activities, including the “Traveling in the magical world of Biology” and “Barceloneta Ocean” public events. In regards to the work that has been done towards gender equality, CSIS also shared the success of their annual awareness month, a series of events that focus on how research institute can promote inclusion and diversity, which included the ResBios webinar “Keeping Women in STEM Careers- Fixing the Leaky Pipe” . In addition CSIC and the University of Gdansk have published Gender Equality Plans as well as other supporting documents for their institutions.
Another major part of this meeting was discussing the successes and lessons learnt by the ResBios consortium throughout the duration of the project. Although things have not gone exactly to plan, due to the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine in Feburary 2022, we have all managed to adapt our processes and methods to accommodate these new normals, and we are very proud of what the project has been able to achieve during these difficult times. Therefore as part of the Sustainability and Support plans, we would like to include case studies from each of the project’s implementing partners, success stories about how these institutions have managed to adapt and deliver effective interventions, as well as sharing the challenges and lessons learnt. These success stories will be incorporated into the projects sustainability plan, as well as sharing these case studies in video interview that will be made availble on the ResBios website and social media platforms.
The final consideration for this meeting was the development of the International Network for Responisble Bioscience to be launched at the end of the ResBios project in December 2022. This network will act as a meeting point for a community of research institutes who share the goal of making positive changes and continuing to promote the principles of the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) framework! This will involve the creation of a core group of network members, consisting of ResBios consortium members, who will also provide guidance and advice, as well as a selection of useful resources informed by their experience gained throughout the ResBios project. However before the launch of the network, we have a lot of work to do, from the creation of the online scaffolding needed to host this network, the creation of an appropriate logo and brand identity, and the creation of the official documentation and network manifesto. A lot to do in six months!
It was a busy couple of days, however, it was not all work in Gdansk, for those who were lucky enough to be able to attend the meeting in person, they were treated to a real taste of Poland, with a tour of the beautiful city of Gdansk, with a wonderful and well informed tour guide, followed by a fantastic meal and further opportunity to catch up and chat.
As we reach the final few months of the project, it feels very bitter sweet– as a consortium we have come so far and learnt so much, but there is also still so much we could do. But through the difficulties and challenges of working throughout the past few year’s, we are so proud of the work we have achieved together. These opportunities to meet as a whole consortium, are such a great way for us to celebrate just how far the ResBios project has come, and how we can ensure the legacy of all the positive changes this project can be fostered and continue to grow. As well as the project laying important groundwork needed for other bioscience institutes that wish to follow our example.
Thank you again to our friends from Poland for welcoming us to the beautiful city of Gdansk, and stay tuned for lots more updates in the next six months!
“Traveling in the magical world of Biology” with the ResBios Team
The ResBios team was very proud to be a part of the Bioscience Fair Day on “Traveling in the magical world of Biology” that was held on Wednesday 18 May 2022, in the County Hall of Alexandroupolis, under the auspices of the Prefecture of East Macedonia and Thrace, Chamber of Evros Prefecture.
The event was co-organized by the Directorate of Secondary Education of Evros (DSEE) and the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics (DMBG) of the Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH), in the context of the cooperation between the two institutions on the occasion of the RESBIOS project, the event was attended by school directors, teachers, family members, students and other guests.
More than 200 students from 9 middle schools of Evros (3 schools from the city region of Alexandroupolis and 6 schools form the broader region of Evros) participated in the event. The students presented works of painting, collages, board games, and many other wonderful ideas, inspired by the curriculum of the Biology syllabus and received congratulations, warm applause and positive reviews from the attendants. The students were very enthusiastic for the unique opportunity to engage with biology in creative ways, fostering a greater understanding and love for this scientific field. Each school received the book “The stuff of life: a graphical guide to genetics and DNA” as a thank you for their participation.
The event was opened by Prof. R. Sandaltzopoulos, Vice-Rector of DUTH, Prof. A. Chlichlia, Chair of the DMBG and Dr. E. Plakoti, Director of DSEE.
This event was organised by; the biology educators from the participating schools, Mr. E. Moutoussidis (Gymnasium of N. Vyssa), Mrs. M. Georgousidou (2nd Gymnasium of Orestiada), Dr. I. Grammatikopoulou (Gymnasium of Lavara), Dr. P. Boudoukas (Gymnasium of Soufli), Dr. P. Miltiadis (Gymnasium of Tychero), Dr. M. Panagopoulou Pantazi (Gymnasium of Feron), Dr. P. Mandalos (Experimental Gymnasium of Alexandroupolis), Dr. I. Bouchliou (3rd Gymnasium of Alexandroupolis) and Dr. A. Tsolou (2nd Gymnasium of Alexandroupolis). collaborated with Mrs. S. Tsiropoulou, Head of School Activities of the DSEE in co-ordination with Profs A. Galanis and A. Pappa, faculty members of the DMBG and members of the RESBIOS-DUTH team, promoting the principles of RRI and the importance of education.
We would also like to thank local news outlets for sharing this event on their networks!
Well done to everyone involved in this fantastic event!
Summer may be just around the corner but the ResBios team are still busy sharing the principles of RRI
Despoina Eugenia Kiousi, PhD candidate and Core Team member of ResBios-DUTH, participated as an organizer of the 10th Summer School of the World Hellenic Biomedical Association (WHBA) in Mani, Neo Oitilo from May 15th to May 21st.
The summer school is aimed at PhD students and young researchers working in the biomedical field and indented to attract scientific talent from Greece and abroad. Despoina led a 1-hour interactive session with panelists with Dr Petro Grivas, Associate Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and Christina Niavi, PhD candidate in Emory University, presenting the aims of the ResBios project and activities organized by DUTH regarding gender equality, education, ethics, open access and citizen engagement (5 RRI keys). The participants had the chance to discuss these topics and share experiences from their institutions. They were encouraged to advocate for inclusivity, equity, and openness in STEM and to actively take part in institutional changes. The total number of PhD students/postdoctoral/research fellows attending the event was twenty-nine (29).
This event also featured sessions from Dr. Elisa Konofagou (Columbia University, USA), who discussed
Harnessing the best of ultrasound – imaging, theranostics and therapeutics, Dimitris Agrafiotis (Pfizer) sharing insights in to Computational Biomedicine -Understanding the structure of data , and Christina Dalla, (University of Athens) – Sex Differences in Neurobiology and Disease, plus many more fantastic presentations.
In addition, there were a number of workshops on talks providing advice and useful skills for young career researchers, including sessions on how to write grants, creating CV’s and cover letters, and effective science communication.
On the 2nd of May 2022, the University of Bremen were the host for the 8th Mentoring Meeting on Education. This was a fantastic opportunity for the Resbios partners to come together and discuss how best to integrate the principles of RRI at an institutional level, within the context of education and the biosciences. The University of Bremen used this opportunity to introduce the audience to the doctoral project Proshed, an initiative of the University of Bremen, the Leibniz-Institute for prevention research and Epidemiology, and working in collaboration with the State University of Zanzibar, that aims to provide information on sustainable health and nutrition education to students in Zanzibar, Africa.
The Proshed project consists of a lecture and further online workshops that are designed to support health and medical students from the State University of Zanzibar. The offers shall provide them tools for a sustainable and efficient communication with their future patients, and the community at large.
An overview of one of a Proshed lecture, that took place in November and December of 2021 was presented. A lecture series that focused on the specific nutritional health challenges present in their local community, insights into current research on nutrition and health education for specific target groups, and best practices on how to use this information to inform their decision-making. This lecture was broken up into five blocks (detailed below), with the fourth part focusing on “transfer knowledge sustainably”, where groups of students develop an instructional strategy for a specific target group. For example, one group worked with a local education organisation- “ZanzibarHelp” – a school for students with mental and physical disabilities in Zanzibar, to develop and organize a short outreach event to educate these students about the importance of healthy snacking and long-term health.
This collaboration between Proshed and ZanzibarHelp was facilitated through the ResBios network.
Students´ Voices and Ramadan
In the block “evaluation and reflection”, the health and medical students were then asked to consider what further work could be done to support other students in their field. Based on the lecture and the final evaluation and reflection, some of the students developed an online format, that would serve as a digital hub for students interested in using the methods described in these Proshed sessions, and how it relates to nutrition and health education. The first contribution to this online format was a discussion about “Diabetes, Health and Nutrition during Ramadan”, which provided information on the research that was being done on how fasting during Ramadan effects patients with diabetes, and what could be done to support these patients during this period of celebration.
On-line format supports reflection about RRI issues
On reflection of the Proshed program and the resulting online format, with regard to RRI and education, it can be said, that the online-format provided the opportunity for health and medical students (and other interested persons) to participate in discussions on RRI-topics, without any prior knowledge (e.g. on health education or RRI) or responsibilities, and is an effective way to share information on current and relevant topics that impact local communities in Zanzibar. The online format allowed for information to be shared, as well as providing materials to support the needs of local societies. It was also a great opportunity for students to get involved and act as mediators to the people within their community, on topics which are important to them, as well as providing a platform for discussions and exchange, between themselves and with lecturers and researchers within these fields of study.
The participants of the UBremen 9th Mentoring Meeting on Education, as well as the participants of the Proshed online-format, suggested that it would be very beneficial to open up these sorts of initiatives and work alongside people from other disciplines and backgrounds, as this would provide more diverse perspectives on these issues, and expand the possibilities of learning from one another. Furthermore, it was highlighted, that it would be more sustainable and fruitful, if exchanges among different disciplines through these online formats, were integrated into the university curricula, and embraced as part of the collaborative nature of working within the fields of biosciences.
All of us at ResBios are so pleased to hear about the fantastic work that is being done by our partners at the University of Gdansk (UG) in addressing gender equality issues! After months of hard work, the University of Gdańsk’s Social Responsibility Committee has outlined key objectives and areas of action to ensure effective diversity management at the institution, within their Gender Equality Plan (GEP), “for the implementation of gender equality policy at the University of Gdańsk.”
‘We aim to strengthen the position of the University of Gdańsk as a safe place to work, always respecting equality and diversity. We want to use tools that support building such a work environment, where people with different backgrounds work together in the same team, have space and freedom to demonstrate and develop their talents,’
The development of this document was a result of previous collaborations between the UG and the EU HORIZON 2020 project Modifying Institution by Developing Gender Equality Plans (MINDtheGEPs), which detailed the effective actions to realise effective diversity management at the institution. Which includes specific mention of how data collection and monitoring is conducted, the promotion of good practices that address gender equlity issues, and the organisation of training and capacity building at UG for effective diversity management, and implementing long lasting implementation of gender equality policy at the UG.
For more information about the work being done by the University of Gdansk in addressing gender equaliy, please Click here.
‘Gender equality plans are activities aimed at removing structural and cultural barriers to employment and career development in science and achieving a work-life balance among women and men, counteracting gender disproportionality in university decision-making bodies, and taking fuller account of gender issues in scientific research and educational programmes.’
We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the three female bioscience researchers from the University of Gdansk, whose fantastic work was recognised last week by the ‘Pomeranian of the Year’ competition.
The committee awarded first place to prof. dr hab. Krystyna Bieńkowska-Szewczyk, Head of the Department of Virus Molecular Biology, for their work promoting COVID research awareness throughout the global pandemic.
Alongside prof. dr hab. Krystyna Bieńkowska-Szewczyk, the work of our very own dr hab. Natasza Kosakowska-Berezecka, was recognised and was awarded third place, for her continuous research that challenges gender stereotypes and beliefs, and who is responsible for the implementation of the Universitiy’s Gender Equality Plan. As well this, dr Karolina Pierzynowska from UG Biology Department, achieved tenth place for their research efforts into the possibilities of using genistein as a potential treatment in the fight against Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
A huge congratualtion to all three! We are proud to be partnered with an institute whose work has been so influential in the fields of bioscience.
from the left: prof. dr hab. Krystyna Bieńkowska-Szewczyk, dr Karolina Pierzynowska, dr hab. Natasza Kosakowska-Berezecka, prof. UG.
The next new normal… How our Ukrainian partners are carrying on!
As of the day of writing this, it has been 65 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, and during this time our thoughts have been with our friends, colleagues and the people of Ukraine. And although they have been struggling throughout this difficult time, and despite the fact the conflict has reached the once safe western regions of the country, our partners at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (IFNUL) are doing everything they can to continue to carry out activities and help promote the positive changes we hope to achieve through the ResBios project and the implantation of RRI, and we are so proud of our colleagues right now! For continuing to put their students and academic staff first, through the chaos going on around them.
So we just wanted to take this time to talk through how our IFNUL team have had to adapt again to support the education of their students, and promote the ideals of RRI within their institution.
The university resumed their teaching programs a month ago, although some of the logistics involved in migrating lessons to onlines platforms had already been put into place, due to the COVID global pandemic, both academic staff and students now face issues of reliable power supply and internet access. Although with the little time left before the end of the semester and of the academic year, everyone is doing their best to carry on with the teaching program. As students continue to write up their assignments and the final reports needed for them to qualify for their undergraduate degrees, the IFNUL team have created a series of online videos and resources to help their students, including guidance on how students can use the plagiarism checking software they are required to use before submitting pieces of work, including “Reference Manager Zotero” and “Reference Manager Mendeley“), which are posted on the YouTube channel of the Department of Biochemistry of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. In addition to this, the team has organised workshops for their students on “Working with electronic library and bibliography in reference managers”.
The IFNUL team has also set up a number of online platforms for their students and teachers to connect with each other, and discuss any issues they are currently facing. This has been set up through a number of the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv Telegram channels.
IFNUL team believes “that through our work we also contribute to the defense of our country on the educational front. Today, Ukrainians are fighting on all fronts: with weapons in hand, in the fields, sowing wheat and rye, in bakeries, baking bread for our citizens, in schools, conducting lessons for our children, in virtual classrooms, lecturing for our students. It is our real life today.”
RRI and citizen science, how these approaches overlap
Summary of the online event “Reaching out and stepping up, how Citizen Science and RRI can enhance bioscience research”, jointly organised by ResBios and Step Change in March 2022
Responsible Research and Innovation, and Citizen Science. How are these approaches intertwined? How can such practices enhance bioscience research? What is the added value of public engagement in this specific research field?
The H2020 projects ResBios and Step Change organised a webinar to combine shared experiences, demonstrate the benefits of public engagement in science, and explore challenges and opportunities. The webinar took place online, on March 28. The event featured contributions from Dr. phil. René von Schomberg, the Kate Hamburger Kolleg; Daniele Mezzana, project manager at ResBios Coordination team – University of Rome Tor Vergata; Prof Elena Buzan, ResBios Project and StepChange Project, University of Primorska; Dr. Carolina Doran, European Citizen Science Association. Dr. Annette Klinkert, Executive Director at the European Science Engagement Association, moderated the discussion.
The event kicked-off hosting a presentation by Dr. phil. René von Schomberg, the Kate Hamburger Kolleg, who launched the conversation explaining what the key elements of RRI are and why those are relevant for the ResBios and Step Change projects. He explained that RRI can be intended as a framework responding to current deficits of the R&I system, and that today we don’t have governance mechanisms thoroughly considering the outcomes of science and technology, which is a major shortcoming. Science, technology and innovation policies are not sufficiently aligned with shared public values. But which are the socially desirable objectives of science? Von Schomberg explained that RRI’s goal is precisely to organise a system in a way that it becomes a driver for socially desirable innovations. He also added that anticipatory governance mechanisms giving direction to innovation should be implemented. He then moved forward, stating that the publish or perish logic, which dominates research today, is paradoxically contributing to making the system somehow less productive, since this logic does not lead to socially desirable outcomes. If it’s important to change the incentive system of science, it’s also relevant to switch from a competitive approach to a collaborative one. Von Schomberg mentioned then Open Science, policy priority for the European Commission, and the relevance of co-design and co-creation of research in synergy with citizens. Co-defining research agendas is very important, he stated, since citizens have to be seen as agents of change.
The conversation moved forward with Daniele Mezzana, project manager at ResBios Coordination team – University of Rome Tor Vergata, who introduced ResBios and its objectives, explaining that the goal of the project is challenging the behaviour of academics while socialising research. He stated that the project aims to root RRI practices in four research organisations in the field of biosciences, namely through 15 grounding actions involving stakeholders from the quadruple helix. Mezzana explained that the relationship between science and society has become increasingly complex, especially in terms of trust, and that RRI is one of the possible ways to somehow exert control on this, trigger a sustainable institutional change, and favouring a stronger science. He then presented a few examples stemming from the implementation of the project.
It was then the turn of Prof Elena Buzan, University of Primorska, who introduced Step Change and explained which the main goals of the project are. She explained that Step Change aims to open science to society, and more in general to people with different backgrounds, outside from the exclusive club of science. She explained her vision of Citizen Science as Responsible Citizen Science, and claimed that it’s paramount to involve citizens in the identification of research priorities as well as in the setting up of methods. She added that citizens have to be included not only as data collectors, since they are meaningful actors who can, if adequately trained, participate in all the stages of the research process. After having touched upon a few challenges, such as validation of data and involvement of stakeholders, she concluded stating that there is certainly a bridge between citizen science and RRI, and that looking at the 10 principles of citizen science, objectives and outcomes of RRI considerably overlap.
The discussion moved on with Dr. Carolina Doran, founder of the Berlin Soapbox Science team and representative of the European Citizen Science Association. She explained that she co-created her presentation with the community of citizen science practitioners. In fact, she reached out to the community to gather information, and learn about main challenges encountered by practitioners implementing citizen science projects in the field of bioscience. Amongst the main challenges mentioned, lack of funding and sustainability of projects in the long term, recruitment, management of participants’ expectations, retaining for long data collection, engagement of high-level decision makers, need of robust scientific data, inclusiveness, and knowledge sharing. As for the lessons learned, she cited the relevance of designing impactful recruitment campaigns, as well as the importance of training local community members, who can carry on expert tasks if provided with guidance. Doran concluded mentioning inclusive terminology, financial facilitation in the global south, and knowledge sharing within the community.
Restoring the trust between science and society, listening to the inputs of citizens to increase the quality of research and innovation, while taking advantage of different expertises available on the field. Among the main takeaways of the event, the need for practitioners working at the interface between science and society to provide visibility to success stories, which should be well communicated to the top level. But also the importance of soliciting decision makers, to show them that practices that could inspire policies are being implemented at the local level. There is political momentum to embrace the inputs of citizens throughout policies, including research and innovation ones, and practitioners working in the fields of RRI and Citizen Science should make the most of it.
To achieve sustainable institutional changes, ResBios is embedding Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) practices within four universities and research institutions in the field of Biosciences in four European countries, through the implementation of RRI Grounding Actions. The project is focused on the biosciences sector which is one of the crossroads in the relations between science and society. It builds upon the EU project StarBios2, which ran between 2016 and 2020, setting the scene for transformative practices and tested interventions aligned with these new science policy frameworks.
Step Change, launched in March 2021, is implementing five Citizen Science Initiatives (CSIs) in the fields of health, energy and environment. The CSIs tackle the issues of wildlife conservation in Slovenia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in the UK, energy communities in Germany, infectious disease outbreak preparedness in Italy, and off-grid renewable energy in agriculture in Uganda. To support the spread of citizen science, the project will design a Citizen Science Navigator, a web-based tool that will collect theoretical and practical insights about different citizen science applications. The aim of the project is to ensure that research institutes make the most of what citizen science has to offer, whilst also identifying, analysing, and limiting the associated risks.
Catch up on the full discussion in the recording below.