Tuesday 28

Sparks Project: Sparkling with ideas for RRI

Posted by Ecsite on 28 Jul 2015

The Sparks project kick-off meeting was held at the King Baudouin Foundation, Brussels, Belgium, on the 6th and 7th of July, 2015.

Sparks European project kick-off meeting

Why should we talk about RRI Tools at the kick-off meeting of a new EU funded project? Because the RRI mindset wants to reach everyone and everywhere. The new Sparks project, coordinated by Ecsite, intends to inform citizens about Responsible Research and Innovation across 29 countries in Europe in many different and appealing ways. Sciences caf├ęs? Yes. Pop-up science shops? Of course! Scenario workshops? Absolutely. And most importantly, an interactive touring exhibition will be in charge of captivating different public's attention.

Marzia Mazzonetto, Ecsite representative in the RRI Tools Project, was there bringing an update of the concepts that are behind the RRI Tools approach. Policy agendas, process requirements and outcomes are the skeleton of this new way of doing research and of enhancing innovation in society. Norbert Steinhaus from the Science Shop in Bonn, introduced the Science Shops as a space and a practice to nurture RRI, where people have a voice and the gathering of interests can be transformed in new research topics, or concrete research projects. The discussions amongst Sparks partners centered on the challenge of making the complex concept of RRI accessible and appealing to European citizens.

This was followed by a great exercise of storytelling, facilitated by Andrea Bandelli, consultant for Ahti. What a powerful tool to create stories that can illustrate experiences! From fantasy with hints of reality. Or from reality with splashes of fantasy, everything is allowed, as far as we have characters, a tension and an ending. We heard funny and lovely stories that involved transgenerational issues, technology and ethics, only to mention some.

Here is a short story, to boost your imagination:

A teenage girl discovers on the internet a device she can wear on her head, the Brainwaves. The waves transmitted to her brain make her feel more confident. She is shy, so what a good gadget it is! She tells it to her best friend at school. He tries it but the effect on him is not the same. When he tries it on, their teacher notices they are doing something out of the ordinary. The teacher is also curious about it and he sees a lot of potential in using this Brainwaves with the kids, at school. He talks about it with the director, but she sees a lot of risks in using it, basically because of the lack of information about the real effects on the brain and the later consequences. They decide to call for a special meeting with the parents' board and to contact the company and the researchers behind the invention.

...How can this story end? Storytelling and metaphors have a lot to say when it comes to explain and visualize things.

The project is just starting and will soon have its own website and social media. Meanwhile, you can check Ecsite's website, Flickr pictures of Sparks Kick-off and the conference presentation on Slideshare.

Andrea Troncoso

Andrea Troncoso works on RRI Tools at Ecsite, in Brussels, which is responsible for the mapping of stakeholders in the RRI Tools project

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