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Making Science Public Blog on RI

by Redazione FGB [1], 5 March 2014

The Nottingham University Making Science Public blog has opened a debate about responsible innovation.

On February 24, 2014, Brigitte Nerlich posted an article entitled Responsible innovation: Great expectations, great responsibilities [2]. She argues that "Responsible (research and) innovation is becoming a new language for thinking about relations between science and society, science in society, science with society and science for society. This is observable not only in the UK but also, and perhaps even more so in Europe, especially as part of Horizon 2020, and now also in the US".

She goes on to "chart a very short history of responsible innovation, summarize some recent work on buzzwords like responsible innovation, and then point to some possible fault-lines that need to be monitored in the future".

She continues by discussing the politics of buzzwords, quoting the philosopher and historian of science Bernadette Bensaude Vincent, before raising a series of questions surrounding the use of the term "responsible innovation". She concludes with "Responsible innovation creates great expectations that 'mobilize the future into the present', while at the same time trying to anticipate and assess the impacts that possible futures may have on the present. This is a complex task that needs more scrutiny than it has so far received, and not only in academic circles. We might need a responsible innovation approach to responsible innovation itself".

In a follow on post Making Responsible Innovation Matter: From Research Projects to Public Policies [3], Sujatha Raman summarizes Nerlich's argument before going on to "consider what is needed to make responsible innovation actually matter in practice", drawing from her research on energy technologies.

After posing the question of "why responsible innovation?" and discussing what responsible innovation might be and its effects, Raman raises the issue of how it could be brought about. She argues that the focus of responsible innovation on scientific research is too narrow, arguing that it must open up to other fields.

She conludes that "Putting RI frameworks into the research process could help open up wider issues around innovation beyond the laboratory. But these cannot be the sole responsibility of the researchers bringing them up for discussion. For these issues to matter in practice, we need RI to be linked to a range of policy mechanisms beyond research projects alone".

Further posts will follow on the blog as the discussion broadens.

As many readers will know the Bassetti Foundation has been promoting the idea of responsible innovation for almost 15 years, and many of the people mentioned in these articles have visited the Foundation. David Guston first visited the Foundation in 2006, long before the 2010/11 dates suggested in the first post. The underbelly workings were in place and grinding along long before these dates.

In response to the arguments raised in the second post (by Raman) the Bassetti Foundation is one of the leading non academic operators in the field and has long held the belief that innovation and politics are tightly linked.

In 2006 President Piero Bassetti delivered a lecture at Milan Polytechnic entitles Innovation and Politics, the text of which can be found here [4].

Further expanding upon the argument in early 2012 Jonathan Hankins published The Politics of Innovation [5] on the Innovation Excellence website, and a search of the website reveals many more.

A further line of investigation involves entrepreneurship, and this website contains many examples [6] of possible approaches to involving a broad spectrum of business operators in the debate.


(photo: Forest Fire [7] by view_camper from Flickr)


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Links in this document:

  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Redazione FGB
  2. 2] https://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2014/02/24/responsible-innovation-great-expectations-great-responsibilities/
  3. 3] https://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2014/02/26/making-responsible-innovation-matter-from-research-projects-to-public-policies/
  4. 4] /en/focus/2007/05/innovation_and_politics.html
  5. 5] http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2012/03/26/the-politics-of-innovation/
  6. 6] /en/pages/search.php?query=entrepreneur&sa=
  7. 7] http://www.flickr.com/photos/view_camper/3179689934/
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