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Home > Focus > Journal of Responsible Innovation, Volume 8, Issue 3 - review

Journal of Responsible Innovation, Volume 8, Issue 3 - review

by Jonathan Hankins [1], 21 April 2022

The third issue of Volume 8 of the Journal of Responsible Innovation opens with Erik Fisher's editorial, Responsible Innovation Through a Multiplicity of Approaches [2]. Fisher explains the diversity of approaches and fields (human genome editing, digitized energy and automated vehicles, urban innovation, the circular economy to name several) represented in the issue, before offering an overview of each article.

In Rethinking societal engagement under the heading of Responsible Research and Innovation: (novel) requirements and challenges [3], Anja Bauer, Alexander Bogner and Daniela Fuchs identify and discuss the specific requirements and challenges for societal engagement along five dimensions, before addressing two intertwined challenges that arise for societal engagement under RRI.

After describing a methodology based on three sources: an expert workshop, ten EU projects and relevant literature, the authors move on to introducing and explaining the five distinct dimensions that are central to their analysis of the discourse on societal engagement under RRI and which make up the bulk of the article:
1 the purposes of societal engagement
2 the actor groups that should become engaged
3 the aspect of timing
4 the engagement formats and procedures
5 the framing of STI in engagement processes

The article closes with a substantial conclusion section in which the authors first argue that that societal engagement needs to be open to dissent instead of striving for consensus, suggesting the need for analysis of the link between invited and uninvited forms of engagement and with particular attention paid to the framing of the issue under discussion.

They suggest that 'only if questions and issues that relate to fundamental institutions and values (state, capitalism, environment, distribution, justice, etc.) and thus stimulate deep reflection or open contradiction are raised, the high demands of RRI might be met'.

The second research article is Design for values and the city [4] from Taylor Stone, who focuses on the identification and analysis of values in urban technologies in an investigation of value sensitive design (VSD) and design for values (DfV) methodologies.

In the introduction (mediums of the city), Stone explains how and why the goal of the paper is to conceptualize the category of 'urban' technologies through the characterization of cities as open and evolving systems, and to use this categorization to develop an analytical framework for surfacing values in/of urban technologies.

Section 2 is a review of the concepts of Value Sensitive Design and Design for Values, before a section on technology and the city in which the author describes how technology and the development of the city are Intrinsically linked.

Surfacing values in/of technology follows, proposing six principles to assist in identifying, defining, and ultimately operationalizing values in urban technological innovation, seen through a case study of nighttime lighting.

Principles to take into account are boundary conditions, technological specificities, the role of history, symbolism, valuableness over values and the need to abandon completeness, each supported with an argument about nighttime lighting. A short conclusion offers a summary of the argument as a whole.

The third research article in this issue is Toward anticipatory governance of human genome editing: a critical review of scholarly governance discourse [5] from John P. Nelson, Cynthia L. Selin and Christopher T. Scott, the authors aiming to identify gaps in discussion and practice and suggest how anticipatory governance efforts may fill them.

After a short description of historical calls for responsibility in human genome editing, the authors move on to describe anticipatory governance and its aims, before a short methodology discussion closes this section.

The authors first discuss Integration (the first of three pillars) in anticipatory governance and human genome editing, before moving on to the foresight and engagement pillars. Through an in-depth analysis, the authors 'identify an urgent need for more - more expansive, more inclusive, more indepth, more deliberative - public engagement regarding not only the isolated products of HGE research, but its conduct, aims, aspirations, funding, and governance'.

In a final 'towards anticipatory governance' section, the authors summarize their findings before offering a series of recommendations.

David J. Hess, Dasom Lee, Bianca Biebl, Martin Fränzle, Sebastian Lehnhoff, Himanshu Neema, Jürgen Niehaus, Alexander Pretschner and Janos Sztipanovits follow with A comparative, sociotechnical design perspective on Responsible Innovation: multidisciplinary research and education on digitized energy and Automated Vehicles [6], in which they develop a comparative, sociotechnical design perspective for interdisciplinary teams of social scientists and computer scientists.

After an introduction, the authors describe their methods, aims and objectives in developing a framework that can facilitate the inclusion of RI and sociotechnical perspectives in open-ended multidisciplinary education and research teams.

A historical background follows in which the authors present a sociotechnical design perspective that no longer views the social and technical as separate spheres that interact but that views them as mutually defined, organized, coproduced, or constituted. They then move on to explain their research problem and contribution before describing their comparative method, across technological systems, societal values and goals and political juristictions.

The results follow with sections on teaching, policy outreach and research, before a comparative analysis in sociotechnical system design and social science and policy research demonstrates problems and possibilities regarding standardization and harmonization between the two continents studied (Europe and North America).

A discussion of findings and short conclusion close the piece.

The final research article in this issue is Cosmopolitan technology assessment? Lessons learned from attempts to address the deficit of technology assessment in Europe [7], in which Pierre Delvenne and Benedikt Rosskamp examine ineffective efforts to address the Technology Assessment (TA) deficit in Europe and asks how TA approaches can spread across diverse socio-political contexts while considering the specificities of receiving environments.

After an introduction to TA (and Parliamentary TA), the authors introduce the PACITA project, the case study used for their article, before moving on to describe their methodology, theoretical underpinnings and realities of trying to expand the TA landscape in Europe.

The main body of the article is descriptive, comparing success in the goal stated above in relation (predominantly) to the experiences of working alongside Portuguese and Czech project leaders. The description is very interesting, offering a lot of food for thought if thinking about the EU project as a whole, and in particular related to the governance and funding of research and innovation.

A very open and sometimes critical discussion follows, with a short conclusion that raises several important issues relating to the relationship between TA, RRI and the European Commission closing the article.

The issue closes with a Perspective piece and a book review.

In Politicising Circular Economy: what can we learn from Responsible Innovation? [8] Mario Pansera, Andrea Genovese and Maddalena Ripa argue that the Circular Economy (CE) agenda might greatly benefit from the field of Responsible Innovation.

Opening with a critique of current approaches to addressing circular economy proposals from political, scientific and scholastic perspectives, the authors then move on to ask some fundamental questions: Which theoretical frameworks inform the dominant and alternative perspectives on CE? Which ideological positions underpin them? Which are the industrial sectors driving CE research and policy developments, and which ones are instead neglected? What is the role of science and technology institutions in such a transition? Which stakeholder groups are included and in which roles, and which are excluded and why?

These questions lead to the authors advocating for a new and alternative agenda for CE that is informed by the debates that emerge within the field of RI. The article then presents the 'A Just Transition to Circular Economy' (JUST2CE) project and its aims to address the problems raised in the article.

Sara El-Sayed closes the issue with her review of Power to the Public: The Promise of Public Interest Technology [9] by Tara Dawson McGuinness and Hana Schank. To quote the concluding paragraph:
The book is a good starting point and overview of the field of PIT, specifically as it relates to how government works in the USA. But future versions and related books might want to look through a wider lens at how technology impacts the public interest and how to incorporate a more anticipatory approach while focusing on social justice issues through twoway dialogues.

Once again an open access publication, this issue offers readers articles and perspectives from the highest level of RI critique. Congratulations to all the authors and the Editorial team and we recommend the issue and all within to our readers.


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Links in this document:

  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Jonathan Hankins
  2. 2] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2021.2019036
  3. 3] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2021.1909812
  4. 4] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2021.1909813
  5. 5] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2021.1957579
  6. 6] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2021.1975377
  7. 7] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2021.1988433
  8. 8] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2021.1923315
  9. 9] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2021.1989797
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Journal of Responsible Innovation, Volume 8, Issue 3
Articles by:  Jonathan Hankins
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