Triggering RRI-oriented changes in research organizations in the Biosciences

The Detailed Design of the Grounding Actions (GAs) foreseen in the RESBIOS project has been recently finalized. They will be implemented by 4 Research Performing Organizations (RPOs) who are going to implement for the first time RRI oriented actions. For this reason, we also define “beginners”. The 15 GAs are aimed at practicing RRI through specific activities focused on one of the 5 RRI keys (Education, Ethics, Gender, Open Access, Public Engagement).

The “beginners” have been assisted in preparing their GAs by the other RESBIOS partners, who already have a specific experience in this field. Such assistance will continue for the rest of the project through many activities, including mutual learning and various forms of mentoring.The 15 GAs are reported below:

With the finalization of the detailed design of the GAs, the preparation phase of RESBIOS (the so-called “co-reflexive strand”) is concluded. It was aimed at promoting a reflection within the RPOs about the needs for the promotion of RRI and about the ways in which the GAs could be better specified. Not just internal actors (other researchers within the RPOs, students, etc.) were involved but also external actors, who will cooperate in different ways to the implementation of the GAs.

The RESBIOS project is now in the implementation phase (the so-called “pro-active strand”) meaning that the focus will be mainly on carrying out the foreseen activities, and on the various related problems and opportunities.

Implementing RRI oriented GAs means triggering a process of change that has to be not only monitored and executed, but also understood and directed. As a matter of fact, the ultimate objective of RESBIOS is to root RRI within Beginners’ RPOs. This is a challenging objective.

Producing RRI oriented change implies the initiation of new practices or the systematization within the organizations of practices that are already implemented informally. Consequently, an effective implementation implies also changing current routines, habitus and worldviews. The “beginners”, while implementing the GAs, will have to take care of the effects they are producing within their organizations and in the relations with the external stakeholders. This is not that easy, since it consists of an interdisciplinary endeavour in which diverse actors, both within the scientific community and outside it, have to cooperate. An effort, therefore, will be requested to produce consensus over the problems to be addressed and on new ways of cooperation among actors which they are not used to. Furthermore, RRI also implies new forms of cooperation among scientists aimed at shaping research and innovation activities so that they are more responsible toward society.

Facing the challenge of change requires cooperation in a self-reflection on the concept of RRI. To facilitate the production of the expected enduring effects within beginners’ organizations, by the mid of the project a further phase will begin. It is named “institutional strand”. All along the project duration, the partners will carry out several Mutual Learning activities aimed at exchanging experiences and point of views. Furthermore, RESBIOS foresees a 16th GA aimed at the creation of a network to support those who want to practice RRI in the Biosciences.

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