This autumn, the ERA Cofund on Biotechnology has convened a European Biotechnology and Society Online Seminar Series as part of its work on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI).
Every week, we bring two speakers into dialogue to offer new insights on the social, environmental, political and ethical dimensions of biotechnology in Europe. We are now midway through the series, but we have three sessions left on Wednesdays at 14:00 CEST, and we warmly invite you to attend. We also welcome you to join CoBioTavern, informal social and networking session between participants and speakers on 21 October at 18:00 CEST. For further information and to register for the seminars and social, please go to https://tinyurl.com/rriseminars.
So far speakers have shared their perspectives as scientists engaging with publics; funders and policymakers developing responsible innovation programmes; and social scientists, philosophers and interdisciplinary researchers making sense of biotechnology and responsible innovation in context. Some fruitful dialogues have developed between these perspectives. We have been delighted to have over 50 attendees for each session, and 185 people from 29 countries registered altogether.
Dialogue in each session has brought insights and deep challenges of responsible innovation to the surface. In the first session, Alan Goddard and Phil Macnaghten exchanged views as a scientist and social scientist on the role of public engagement work, the importance of co-creation approaches, and challenges for scientists of gaining funding and support for these approaches. In the second session, Cecilie Mathiesen and Helge Rynning, together with Alfred Nordmann and Janine Gondolf, reflected on an audience question: does RRI also apply to basic research? Cecilie emphasised its practical value for all improving all research; Alfred suggested that RRI does not recognise categories of “basic” and “applied”. Instead, he argued that RRI challenges classical ideas of research, and invited us to place values first as we address societal challenges. In the latest session, two sets of speakers (Eleanor Hadley Kershaw, Stevienna de Saille and Carmen McLeod; and Amy Clare and Ruth Müller) exchanged in-depths insights about their experiences as social researchers occupying RRI roles in innovation projects, articulating together some fundamental challenges of introducing responsibility into current research systems. More information is available on the seminar series website. We look forward to continuing these conversations, and welcome your participation.