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Home > Focus > Journal of Responsible Innovation, Vol 5, Issue 2

Journal of Responsible Innovation, Vol 5, Issue 2

by Jonathan Hankins [1], 18 September 2018

The summer brought the release of Issue 2 of Volume 5 of the Journal of responsible innovation [2]. Once again the journal offers a diverse collection of articles and essays with several freely available for download.

The journal opens with Second-generation biofuels: exploring imaginaries via deliberative workshops with farmers, by Christopher Groves, Meenakshisundaram Sankar and P. John Thomas.
In this article the authors describe their experience and findings drawn from a pilot deliberative workshop with farmers in Wales, in which the research team explored the potential societal impacts of novel nanocatalysis methods for second generation biofuels. The article opens with an overview of discussion surrounding problems associated with first generation biofuel production and developments in the process leading to further generations (that may lead to lessening of these problems).

The article then goes on to describe the methodology used within the research before addressing the findings. These are described under clear subheadings, with an array of quotes from participating farmers that bring up lots of interesting questions (of particular interest is scale).

A brief discussion section follows in which the authors summarize how the farmers describe their positions and how the issues relate, with a short conclusion describing the position of the project as a whole within current research.

In Responsibility and science communication: scientists' experiences of and perspectives on public communication activities, Maria Loroño-Leturiondo and Sarah R. Davies present findings from a focus group study carried out with natural scientists which explored researchers' ideas about public communication.

The authors describe how their findings do not indicate a 'deficit' of responsibility that requires fixing through policy instruments such as RRI, but instead that scientists seem to be experiencing a surfeit of responsibilities. The data described seems to suggest that scientists do feel responsible for successful public communication (with an interesting discussion of how they describe and measure success), leading to a dynamic in which scientists take on responsibility for the act of public communication. This leads to the scientists framing themselves as the responsible agents within the process.

In conclusion the authors raise the issue of what this understanding of public communication means for RRI and call for further research in the field.

In The moral psychology of value sensitive design: the methodological issues of moral intuitions for responsible innovation, Steven Umbrello outlines an argument that although moral intuitions are insufficient for making judgments on new technological innovations they maintain great utility for informing responsible innovation through value sensitive design. He describes how stakeholder values can be better distilled to inform responsible innovation via design, but argues that the moral intuitions that are necessary for determining the stakeholder values required for the design of responsible technologies should be subject to the adoption of heuristic tools to diminish the influence of cognitive biases.

The author argues that tools that would help to highlight and prevent moral bias should also be deployed on the designers themselves in an attempt to work towards the de-biasing and in some cases designing out of biased values that may unconsciously form part of the design project.

Umbrello concludes by arguing that by adding heuristic tools to the conceptual analyses of values, the value sensitive design (in this case responsibility) methodology can be strengthened against doubts about the epistemic status of moral judgments produced by moral intuitions.

In the fourth research article in this issue, IMAGINE RRI. A card-based method for reflecting on responsibility in life science research, Ulrike Felt, Maximilian Fochler and Lisa Sigl e create a new format for engaging life science researchers in reflections on the meaning of responsibility in their own research practices through the discussion of a card-based method: IMAGINE RRI.

The use of the card system allows those participating to recount their feelings, opinions and experiences in a narrative way, taking the abstract out of the concept of RRI and bringing experience to the fore. The method's aim is twofold. First, it is meant to empower researchers to appropriate RRI through shared reflection while connecting it to their practices. Second, it aims to enable researchers to reflect on how the institutional context of their work and the embedded values fosters or hinders responsible research practices. Supplementary material (including card design and discussion map) are made available under a creative commons license and the authors implore the reader to experiment further with them.

The final research article in this issue is Responsible innovation during front-end development: increasing intervention capacities for enhancing project management reflections on complexity, by Steven M. Flipse & Chris J. van de Loo.

This paper aims to answer the question: what is the effect of stimulating communication about project complexity, including responsible innovation elements, using midstream modulation during early phases of industrial innovation management? The article describes a short research program using a modified version of the STIR research approach (see Erik Fisher's work [3] in Arizona for further details) within industry in the Netherlands.

Following what is now a well-established approach within RI research, the article describes how an external person interacting regularly with a project manager creates conversation that otherwise would not occur, leading to more reflexivity seen within the projects studied and offering a lead for the introduction of RI aims.

The issue continues with a short perspective section. In Absent, yet present? Moving with 'Responsible Research and Innovation' in radiation protection research, Michiel Van Oudheusden, Catrinel Turcanu and Susan Molyneux-Hodgson draw on their own experiences as embedded science and technology studies (STS) scholars in the nuclear subfield of radiation protection, singling out instances where RRI is discussed among R&D managers, scientists and technologists, and social science and humanities (SSH) researchers.

The article highlights challenges and opportunities in introducing RRI into the radiation protection research space, is short and interesting and offers an interesting view of the lives and experiences of working within the field as an STS scholar.

The journal closes with a final perspective piece. In Responsible innovation in the financial sector: an Islamic perspective, Mohd Faiz Hilmi explores responsible innovation practices in the financial sector from an Islamic perspective in the light of the financial crisis and the attribution of irresponsibility to certain sectors within the financial world.

The paper locates and engages responsible financial innovation in contexts, cultures and practices of Islam, raising the concept of Shari'ah-compliant responsible innovation.

After an overview the argument is also represented in a table that pinpoints the elements of RI as defined in the various frameworks in relation to Islamic perspectives on RI, before recommending that Islamic banking and financial institutions develop, commit to and adopt a common responsible financial innovation framework.

The article concludes by providing suggestions and a recommendation to Islamic banking and financial institutions regarding the Shari'ah-compliant responsible innovation concept.

As always, this issue of the Journal of Responsible Innovation offers high quality research and perspectives. In relation to previous issues and reflecting the development of the concept of RI, the issue demonstrates a development in the arguments surrounding RI as the theme becomes more operationalized, the articles and perspectives all speaking of experience of working within the field, very much reflecting the interests of the Bassetti Foundation.

We recommend the journal to all of our readers and congratulate all of the authors and editorial staff on their work.


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  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Jonathan Hankins
  2. 2] https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tjri20/current
  3. 3] http://cns.asu.edu/research/stir
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Journal of Responsible Innovation, Vol 5, Issue 2
Articles by:  Jonathan Hankins
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