Monday 23

Schools are generally unaware of Responsible Research and Innovation

Posted by Scientix project on 23 May 2016

Although Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has gained prominence in Europe in the past years, even as a priority topic at the European Commission, the findings of a new comparative analysis on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education in Europe indicate that RRI remains to be fully embedded in national school education systems. Currently, it is more a concern and concept used by the academia and generally unknown at schools in 24 out of the 30 countries observed.

However, it is acknowledged that RRI could play a role in motivating students to pursue STEM studies and related careers, by bringing the societal aspects of STEM subjects to the forefront of education. For this happen, much more needs to be done to raise awareness about the benefits of implementing RRI at schools. It seems like examples of best practices are needed, to showcase how school education may best contribute to the RRI agenda.

The Scientix comparative analysis of STEM education, published by European Schoolnet with support from the Scientix project identifies some examples from Spain, Ireland, Israel, Sweden and Flanders (Belgium) that have embedded RRI in their scool education systems, at least to some extent. Only Spain and Israel claim that it is one of their top national priorities to implement RRI in school education. Spain‘s involvement in work on this issue is evident through various projects, such as the European project Xplore Health which bridges the gap between health research and education. In Israel, the project ASAM is a network that transforms schools into long-term monitoring stations on climate change, ecology and social processes.

In the summer of 2015, the European Commission‘s Expert Group on Science Education presented its report titled "Science Education for Responsible Citizenship". That report also supported further implementation of RRI within school systems in Europe. By equipping citizens with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes in science, they will be more capable to contribute to it actively and responsibly.

RRI is clearly still a new concept in STEM education. Now it will be interesting to see how countries will respond to those recommendations, and how RRI contributes to the future of education and lifelong learning processes, hopefully for the long-term benefit of society.

Róbert Hlynur Baldursson

Róbert Hlynur Baldursson is the Web Editor and Communications Officer for the Scientix project.

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