Thursday 08

Czech hub prepared the workshops all around the Czech Republic

Posted by Techmania Science Center on 08 Dec 2016

A series of workshops was held in the Czech Republic during the first week of October. The purpose of the workshop was to raise awareness of responsibility research and innovation and to present tools developed in the RRI Tools project. Training sessions took place in four regional cities, namely Ostrava (3 October), Olomouc (4 October), Liberec (5 October) and Brno (6 October) and successfully followed up the first workshop held in Plzeň earlier in June. The workshops were organised by the RRI Hub for the Czech Republic and lecturers were Miroslav Parvonič from Techmania Science Center and Jana Brabcová from Grafia, s.r.o.

The workshops were open to anybody who was interested in the topic, and mainly to the target groups, i.e. policy makers, the research community, the education community, business & industry and civil society organisations. The largest number of participants came from training and research institutions, while there were no representatives from the business sector and public administration. The total number of attendees was 47.

The response and feedback by the participants cannot be summarised into a unanimous evaluation as we reported both positive and negative reactions, but neither of them prevailed. Generally speaking, for most attendees the workshop was the very first experience with the responsible research and innovation concept.

We took a purely practical approach to the workshops and focused on real project outcomes, namely the search engine, how-to apply RRI and the self-reflection tool. During the first part, participants were acquainted with the RRI concept and its form as it is presented by the European Commission. They were given space to actively engage in the debate on different RRI aspects while using their experience and practice. In the second pat, we went through different parts of the agenda – ethics, gender equality, governance, open access, public engagement and science education. Discussions happened with a great contribution by the attendees and concerned mostly which aspects of responsibility are relevant to them in their everyday work and which aspects they consider problematic or hard to apply for different reasons. This brought us to opportunities and obstacles to RRI. The last part of the workshop introduced the RRI tools and practical work with them. The participants tried their hands at searching for different projects and instruments using a search engine and different filters and key words and tried working with search results. Another instrument that they tried was the self-reflection tool. They filled in the relevant section of questionnaires for a selected agenda and then discussed the results in groups and tried to identify key tools for the application of RRI in their parent companies. Last but not least, we also dealt with “how-to”; however, due to a lack of time, we only went through a selected procedure and used it to explain how we can further work with it.

As we have mentioned, the overall assessment was not too clear. Negative feedback was most often provided by researchers and scientific workers. Some of them see RRI as a useless activity that will reduce their capacity that they otherwise could dedicate to the actual research. On the other hand, many of them appreciated especially the search engine tool as a source of possible inspiration for implementing RRI into practice. There was a large agreement that the existing RRI concept is too general and has to be specified. At the strategic level, the European Commission should outline the future of RRI and how the Commission intends to further work with this concept. For instance, whether RRI will become an equivalent to horizontal priorities, whether institutions applying a responsible approach in research and development will gain some advantages when obtaining public funding, etc. The attendees also think that the parameters of a responsible research definition have to be specified, e.g. in the form of indicators (not just qualification indicators, i.e. those saying what is or is not responsible research, but also development indicators, i.e. those specifying fields where the RRI principles should be applied and what different development levels are). Last but not least, it would be suitable to further elaborate the RRI Tools and to make them more practical (more specific procedures, recommendations, examples of good practice, etc.), as the current search engine is a guidepost that leads to specific projects. Those interested then have to research and go through the project structure, search for information that they need in a complicated way, which, overall, reduces the usefulness of the search engine (according to some attendees, Google can do the same job, even better, when the key words are used). Another major risk that the participants mentioned was that referenced sources are often publicly funded projects where sustainability does not have to be observed over a longer period of time. This means that such sources may soon cease to exist.

Katerini Dalasová

Katerini Dalasová works on RRI Tools at Techmania Science Center in Pilsen, the RRI Tools Hub for the Czech Republic

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