Public engagement in Responsible Research Innovation

Public engagement is an essential part of Responsible Research Innovation (RRI). There are different methods for implementing this and one of them is the so-called Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) method.

CBPR is a partnership approach to research that involves community members, who contribute to the research process with their expertise. This, on the one hand, provides an effective opportunity to inform citizens of new RRI projects, and on the other hand gives necessary input and local knowledge to researchers. This makes the RRI projects more credible and helps to resolve difficult problems.

PE in RRI helps to achieve multiple goals:

  • Increasing the public’s scientific literacy. PE contributes to building a more scientifically literate society, one that can actively participate in developing innovations.
  • Creativity. PE adds new perspectives and creativity to research design and results.
  • Research relevance. PE is an idicator for the relevance and need for research. It helps foster more societally desirable research and innovation outcomes to help us tackle societal challenges.

Public engagement establishes an active and inclusive dialogue between researchers, citizens, policy makers and industries on research and innovations that can address societal challenges. At the same time, these activities prepare society for technological change and help them to accept the results.


Projects in public engagement in RRI:

Living knowledge:

Living Knowledge is an international network of organisations active in public engagement. It brings together civil society organisations in research & innovation, and those who support these activities. This consortium promotes a community-oriented debate and open dialogue by providing scientific knowledge for citizens in an inclusive, action-oriented and participatory way. It brings civil society concerns and interests into the scientific discussion in order to foster a process of knowledge co-creation between all societal actors. Its strategic impact on international RRI policies is built upon a capillary net of science shops, which are intermediary organisations that act as a bridge between citizen groups and research institutions. These organisations create more widespread access to science for social groups that would not ordinarily interact with these disciplines.

Science cafés, innovation cafés:

Science cafés are an informal, grassroots movement associated with universities, museums, or professional scientific societies. Some cafés are organized in their own neighborhoods, combining science and socializing. Attendance at a café meeting may range from 20 to 80 people, but because of the casual, intimate atmosphere. the experience is often more inclusive and effective than a lecture. Often the success of one science café leads to an ongoing series of cafés. One of the science café themes is dedicated to innovation. This theme builds on the idea that civilization is based on the human ability to invent, that is, to create new materials and technologies from the raw materials of the earth This theme’s cafés are hosted by New York Times technology reporter David Pogue, who guides the participants as they explore cutting-edge innovations.

Xplore Health:

Xplore Health provides a variety of tools to increase public engagement in scientific health questions, such as simple introductory videos for complex health topics; videos with virtual experiments; online games; worksheets for students; and games to encourage dialogue. By popularizing complex scientific discourses and translating them to a broader audience, they engage them to decision-making process through discussions and dialogues.