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Lab Times

1-2015

page

57

Careers

Careers in academia

pects of the research process has become a

must. The interested reader may find fur-

ther details in the policy briefing Science in

Society: caring for our futures in turbulent

times published by the European Science

Foundation in 2013 and in a very recent

review by the National Research Council

of Italy on the main priorities and achieve-

ments of science-society activities funded

in FP6 and FP7.

Science at the service of society?

Societal challenges, with their assign-

ment to push research and innovation for

the society’s benefit, has become one of

three major funding priorities in Horizon

2020. Roughly 40% of the whole FP budg-

et is earmarked for seven topics, which have

been identified as key societal challenges in

the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustain-

able and inclusive growth. They include, for

example, health, food security, clean and

efficient energy, resource ef-

ficiency and raw materials,

and will be tackled by re-

search and innovation activi-

ties, bringing together differ-

ent disciplines, technologies

and actors.

Social sciences and hu-

manities research were

stressed as important ele-

ments in these efforts, main-

ly to counteract continuing

criticism of being largely underrepresent-

ed with respect to funding opportunities

and research budgets. Research and innova-

tion activities are accompanied by the €500

million Science with and for Society pro-

gramme (SWAFS), which was not holed up

beneath major funding lines as previously,

but was implemented as an independent

and clearly visible element. According to

the work programme, the aim of SWAFS is

to build an effective cooperation between

science and society, to recruit new talents

for science and to pair scientific excellence

with social awareness and responsibility.

For the first time in the history of EU pro-

grammes, research and innovation to soci-

ety’s benefit and activities bridging the gap

between science and society have been po-

sitioned prominently. Whether this was just

a clever move to justify an increased budg-

et for Horizon 2020 in times of economic

turbulence or indeed a strong commitment

that will not soon be abandoned for the sake

of economic impact remains to be seen.

SWAFS funding announcements, with

deadlines in September 2015, will fall with-

in the following four broad thematic topics:

Integrating society in science and innova-

tion (ISSI), making science education and

careers attractive for young people (SEAC),

promoting gender equality in research and

innovation (GERI) and developing govern-

ance for the advancement of responsible

research and innovation (GARRI). All pro-

posals have to take up and support the new

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)

approach in Horizon 2020, which will be

explained in detail below.

Whereas in the past the results of sci-

ence-society programmes often went un-

noticed by the greater scientific community

and public, more emphasis has been placed

in Horizon 2020 on dissemination beyond

a closing expert-level conference, a major

publication or website that will eventually

become outdated. In order to receive finan-

cial support, applications in the programme

have not only to give proof of their innova-

tive character but also of their social, eco-

nomic and environmental sustainability be-

yond the funding period. The topic of Sci-

ence within and for the Society has defi-

nitely drawn considerable attention within

the scientific community and beyond. This

is evident, for example, from the number

of proposals in the first calls for Horizon

2020 and from the crowd of 600 attend-

ees in the booked-up international confer-

ence on ‘Science, Innovation and Society:

Achieving Responsible Research and Inno-

vation’ in Rome last November.

Responsible research and innovation

The concept of responsibility in science

is nothing new. Its meaning extends beyond

pure research ethics and varies widely, for

example between scientific disciplines such

as biomedicine or physics and research top-

ics under consideration, such as genetical-

ly modified crops, nuclear energy and IT

security.

Various definitions of RRI have been

put forward recently, for instance by a

group of scientists in the UK consisting

of Jack Stilgoe, Richard Owen and Phil

Macnaghten, by the Dutch agricultural sci-

entist and philosopher René von Schom­

berg, working for the European Commis-

sion on research and innovation policies,

and by the European Commission itself. The

UK scientists described the four dimensions

of RRI: anticipation in governance, reflex-

ivity by actors and institutions, inclusion of

new voices and responsiveness in the in-

novation systems. Von Schomberg defined

RRI in his article A vision of Responsible

Research and Innovation as a “transparent,

interactive process by which societal actors

and innovators become mutually respon-

sive to each other with a view to the (ethi-

cal) acceptability, sustainability and soci-

etal desirability of the innovation process

and its marketable products in order to al-

low a proper embedding of scientific and

technological advances in our society.”

In the EU context, Responsible Research

and Innovation (RRI) surfaced during the

programming period of Horizon 2020, to-

wards the end of FP7, as a com-

promise between economic and

societal aspects of research and

innovation. RRI has been im-

plemented as a cross-cutting is-

sue with relevance for all three

major funding areas of Horizon

2020, and should be taken into

consideration and promoted

throughout the whole FP.

The European Commis-

sion settled on six RRI key ele-

ments in 2012: 1) open access to the results

of publicly-funded research for all societal

actors to increase their impact and to make

research and innovation more transparent,

2) ethics as a way of ensuring high quali-

ty results and increased acceptability of re-

search and innovation, 3) gender equality

in the context of research and innovation,

4) science education to bring more talent

into research and to create a science-liter-

ate society, 5) engagement of all societal ac-

tors and their participation in the research

and innovation process and, finally, 6) gov-

ernance as a tool to implement the five pre-

vious keys and to prevent harmful and un-

ethical developments in research and in-

novation.

One might argue that RRI is just an

om-

nium gatherum

of the European Commis-

sion to gain acceptance for a bundle of high-

ly diverse topics, which are directly or indi-

rectly linked to research and innovation but

do not have too much in common and have

been widely addressed before. The rest of

this article will be confined to the RRI key

element of open access and how it is put

into practice in Horizon 2020.

Jack Stilgoe

, Department of Science and Technol-

ogy Studies, University College of London: “Under

Horizon 2020, there will certainly be growing support

for open access. But open science does not only

speed up research and innovation, it brings new

responsibilities, too. It questions the boundaries that

separate science from the rest of society. I think we

underestimate how difficult will be the vital task of

turning open science into responsible science.”