Volume 10 of the Journal of Responsible Innovation remains ‘in progress’ and is being constantly updated. This volume has articles gathered within collections, the largest of which may be of particular interest to Foundation followers as it addressees Engagement of Publics (one of our primary interests). The collection currently (October 2023) features five research articles and a perspective piece.
In If deliberation is the answer, what is the question? Objectives and evaluation of public participation and engagement in science and technology, Jesse L. Reynolds, Eric B. Kennedy and Jonathan Symons argue the need for more evaluation of public participation and engagement (PP&E) in decision-making regarding science and technology.
After a brief history of PP&E, the authors move on to characterizing its three top-level sets of objectives: substantive, deontological and political, before discussing wider associated costs and deeper problems with PP&E, including raising the questions of how lack of evaluation leads to an inability to offer proof of its benefits, its broader costs and their possible distribution.
The article closes with a challenges and opportunities section in which Reynolds and colleagues state that in order to ‘help advance PP&E’s funding, reputability, and consistent utilisation, commensurate investment is needed into developing clear and specific objectives, conducting independent evaluation, and offering transparent reporting of successes and failures alike’. They note however that this would not be challenge free, requiring clearly defined observable criteria of ‘success’, reflection upon objectives and independent evaluation as a marker of credibility to counter unintentional bias. All of which has to be transparently reported.
The section continues with Defining success in community-university partnerships: lessons learned from Flint by Laura Schmitt Olabisi, Chelsea Wentworth, Kent Key, Renée V. Wallace, Miles McNall, Jennifer Hodbod and Steven A. Gray.
This article presents lessons learned from a participatory modeling research project (Flint Leverage Points Project) based on RRI principles and interested in the transformation of the food system in Flint, Michigan, focusing on the principles of co-design and co-innovation. It offers an honest and detailed methodological description of experiences in a turbulent time (COVID).
During an overview of the project the authors describe the dire social situation on the ground in Flint before presenting its goals, objectives and aims based upon the identification of leverage points, which would provide opportunities and the highest potential impact in shifting the system towards more healthy, equitable, and sustainable outcomes.
A detailed description of the first three years of the project followed by an overview of modelling currently in progress brings the authors to addressing some of the challenges faced and changes made to the project (brought about thanks to the integration of findings and recommendations during rather than at the close of the project) and lessons learned.
In Trust, trustworthiness, and relationships: ontological reflections on public trust in science, Kieran C. O’Doherty examines the ways in which the notion of trust is implicitly conceptualized in social scientific research dedicated to measuring and studying public trust.
The author describes how trust is a foundational aspect of living in a democratic society and how democratic systems serve a critical role in structuring distrust, before moving on to discussing science, technology and trust and how such trust is conceptualized in research (with a particular focus on COVID 19).
The author moves on to criticize the common ontological foundation of trust which is posited as an intrapsychic phenomenon that is quantifiable, located within individuals and specific to particular targets, as this fails to examine the trustworthiness of individuals and institutions and to recognize the relational nature of trust. He also raises the issue of manipulation tied to ideas of trust and trustworthiness, before wrapping up the arguments in an easy to follow conclusion.
In Responsible epistemic innovation: How combatting epistemic injustice advances responsible innovation (and vice versa), Gwen Ottinger argues that epistemic resources, including concepts, categories and metrics should be addressed within responsible innovation through the development of new forms of material deliberation and by including resources for responsible epistemic innovation in RI policy.
Ottinger uses three examples of epistemic innovation that led to resources for representing air quality in communities close to oil refineries, all of which fail to capture the population’s lived pollution experience, using an RI framework to makes a series of suggestions for aligning these innovations with societal needs for epistemic resources.
The methodology section that follows describes the development and use of bucket air sampling techniques in terms of their relationships to RI practices, alongside the EPA model for pollution monitoring (that she argues demonstrates a poor relationship to RI) and the toxic soup index (which consists of continuous monitoring of multiple chemicals, with measurements reported to a website in real time).
A section on challenges for Responsible Innovation follows, the author discussing what she describes as the error problem, the data deliberation problem and the inclusion problem, before a short conclusion ties the argument together.
The final research article is Online data sharing with virtual social interactions favor scientific and educational successes in a biodiversity citizen science project from Ana-Cristina Torres, Baptiste Bedessem, Nicolas Deguines and Colin Fontaine.
In their introduction, the authors discuss Citizen Science and how the learning of science and science processes can be promoted for participants, helping to develop individual commitment towards environmental issues as they secure the production of a large amount of high-quality data in a large spatial and temporal extent. They describe the Photographic Survey of Flower Visitors study (Spipoll) in which participants have access to an online space, moving on to investigate the influence of such a space.
An analysis of the types of exchanges between the participants follows, after which the authors argue and explain how such a free communication space might be seen as contributing to achieving different types of successes within citizen science projects.
Their description of participant interaction leads them to believe that a free and open online space of data sharing and communication ‘promotes the constitution of a benevolent community of participants, which itself might support the realization of different kinds of objectives commonly expected from citizen science programs’.
In the Perspective piece Scientists need professional development to practice meaningful public engagement, Kathryn A. Stofer, David Hanson and Kirsten Hecht identify areas needing improvement to achieve meaningful community engagement within science. Based upon three studies of scientist experience, they highlight the problem of scientists’ lack of preparation for effective and inclusive engagement.
The authors provide evidence to underscore the need for what they describe as formalized, sustained, reflective, increasingly advanced, and ongoing professional development for researchers based upon several findings: academic scientists do not always consider and reflect on the role of power in their public engagement; a lack of reflection on the two-way engagement work model; lack of firm goals; need to evaluate to improve engagement practices. They then describe a very interesting case study before addressing a series of implications for professional development and making several recommendations.