Update from Work Package 3: Concept and community

The partners in work package 3 have been busy preparing three guides for Higher Education Funding and Research Centers which plan to implement the ETHNA System. The three guides focus, respectively, on mapping stakeholders, assessing social needs to which research and innovation may respond and on holding workshops with stakeholders with deliberative methods to give them a say in RRI activities. The results have been obtained through literature research and stakeholder-inclusion activities and are based on the state-of-the-art findings from WP 2.
Stakeholder mappings help institutions get an overview of the actors with whom to cooperate when creating an ethical governance system. ETHNA System offers guidance to this end. The second deliverable guides institutions on how to consider societal needs, assuming that Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is the “on-going process of aligning research and innovation to the values, needs and expectations of society”, as defined in the Rome Declaration on Responsible Research and Innovation in Europe.
This dialogue with the civil society should, according to the theoretical foundation of the ETHNA System, be based on deliberative methods for which the third deliverable will provide guidance.
In February 2021, two workshops were held at which WP 3’s findings were discussed with the project partners, members from associated partner institutions and advisory board members as well as with stakeholders from the field of RRI. The results have also been presented and discussed at the ETHNA System workshop on “Research and innovation in and for and good society” in March 2021. The discussions with the workshop participants highlighted the importance of the ETHNA System and the relevance of its findings.   While answering to societal needs is crucial for RRI, several aspects have to be taken into account: Freedom of research should not be jeopardised by stakeholder inclusion. Also, excellence and ethics do not have to be opposed to one another, but can be achieved at the same time. Last but not least,the researchers’ reality has to be taken into account when expecting them to „do“ RRI. It must, for instance, be taught how to accomplish public engagement, to which end WP 3 analysed dos and don’ts of stakeholder mapping from the public participation community. Furthermore, taking into account ethics might be „uncomfortable“ – after all, one has to question oneself and one’s own research. At the same time, researchers are under pressure to publish, get financing and create outstanding results.

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