How to integrate RRI in secondary education
Involving students and teachers in reflecting on the role of research and innovation (R&I) fosters sustainable interactions between schools, researchers, industry and civil society organisations, both in formal and informal learning.
The integration of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) principles in teaching and learning activities supports multidisciplinarity and stronger student engagement as well as student acquisition of critical thinking and collaborative learning skills. It also prepares them to make informed and evidence-based choices about society’s future. Furthermore, responsiveness and being adaptive to change, two dimensions of the RRI process, can be seen as fundamental skills for individuals if they are to be prepared for the increasing complexity of our world. In this sense, an overall perspective on challenges in education is offered in UNESCO’s book Rethinking Education: Towards a Global Common Good?
Though its relation to science and STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) may appear stronger, RRI principles may also apply to other disciplines (social sciences, historical and anthropological research, etc.). RRI principles may relate to many aspects of innovative teaching methods that foster the implementation of formative assessment processes and the acquisition of transversal skills. Lastly, RRI concepts can help students better understand existing careers paths, entrepreneurship and innovation processes, and complexities of the professional world.
Building blocks for introducing RRI concepts to students
Introductory lessons around one or more RRI principles, such as inclusion and diversity, can be lightly integrated into class activities. For example, a few minutes at the end of each class could be dedicated to identifying and reflecting on key RRI-related aspects within the lesson. Within group activities and school projects, regular sessions could focus on critical reflection on the group’s processes, values, routines and assumptions and the activity’s final results (reflection dimension), while prompting students to make necessary changes to their plans and methods (adaptive change dimension). Reflection and discussion games can be used to shape these sessions, such as the FUND project’s PlayDecide, which supports talks and reflections about social and scientific issues. This project also offers a manual for developing a customized ‘Decide kit’.
To support student motivation and empowerment, it is important to link RRI principles to students’ current activities and studies as well as to real and concrete examples of application (in and out of school, informal and non-formal contexts) and everyday situations (social life, interests, news, etc.). For ideas, check out the Xplore Health and ENGAGE projects; their lesson plans and classroom activities, which focus on science subjects, can be adapted or can inspire new resources for activities in other subjects.
Another inspiring example can be found on the SiS Catalyst Diversity & Inclusion Map, which helps users develop high-quality programmes that are attractive to children from different social backgrounds. Students can also be involved in key steps for evaluating the programmes.
Finally, the handbook for teachers “RRI in practice for schools” is a great tool to help educators design and implement RRI-oriented academic practices by offering a range of guidelines and practice templates to integrate RRI in everyday school activities.
Education is collaboration, inside and outside the school
Collaborative planning and learning in school activities, particularly with the involvement of multiple stakeholders, foster the development of inclusive and open mind-sets in young students while also improving opportunities for students to understand the world outside the school. For example, planning and organizing an exhibition or a workshop to disseminate a project’s results (whether during a school fair or an open day, and involving the whole school as well as parents, external experts and local communities) supports the acquisition of communication and reflection skills.
Check out the DESIRE toolkit for guidelines on disseminating science education project results and the IRRESISTIBLE project for guidelines promoting collaborations between schools and science museums in creating exhibitions about RRI. Both guidelines provide valuable information for organizing similar activities for multidisciplinary school projects or involving different stakeholder groups, such as other civil society organizations or local authorities.
How to incorporate RRI in higher education institutions
In addition to instructing the next generation of policy makers, entrepreneurs, researchers and global thought leaders, higher education institutions have a prominent role in research and innovation (R&I). As such, they are vital actors in transforming society and dealing with today’s grand societal challenges. Higher education institutions can optimally fulfil their role as change agents by advancing the skills pertinent to conducting RRI and promoting the governance agendas key to RRI in such institutions. Thus, higher education institutions can help transform the R&I system such that societal responsiveness, sustainability and ethical acceptability become R&I’s new normal.
RRI Tools has gathered and developed practical resources that might help you in taking the necessary steps to embed RRI in your higher education institution. This transformation requires acting at different levels and involving not only the university community but also actors who are traditionally outside the campus.
Institutional commitment: Embedding RRI on campus
At the institutional level (provost, council, boards) a variety of measures can be taken to foster and support RRI, such as the development of:
A normative framework that includes RRI principles. For more information about these principles, take a look at the RRI Tools Policy Brief and the About RRI page. An example of one such framework is the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.
A plan to foster dialogue, reflection, participation and public engagement in your institution. The Sciencewise Departmental Dialogue Index is a toolkit that can help you make a plan for your organisation.
A plan to support structural change regarding gender equality in decision-making bodies, university staff and labour conditions. For examples, check out EC elements and solutions for structural change in research institutions and the INTEGER, STAGES, and GenisLab guidelines for gender structural change.
An ethical code of conduct for research and teaching and an active promotion of awareness and use of this code through internal meetings and education. The Oxford University Code of Practice and Procedure and ORI’s The Lab are useful examples.
Policies to promote transparency and openness across the scientific process (e.g., TOP guidelines) and measures to promote open access to research findings. A great number of such measures can be found at the ROARMAP registry of mandates and policies adopted by universities, research institutions and funders (for more details check the page on How to Implement OA Policies at Institutions).
Courses that use RRI principles or that teach students what these principles are and how to make use of them. Examples are the MOOC Responsible Innovation: Ethics, Safety and Technology and, in the Netherlands, the course Responsible Innovation (Delft University) and the minor programme Responsible Innovation (universities of Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam).
Additionally, you could make use of indicators to gauge the impact of implementing RRI through such measures. Take a look at the report Indicators for Promoting and Monitoring RRI, which focuses on indicators for the six policy agendas of RRI as formulated by the European Commission. If you are concentrating more on RRI processes, the RRI Tools document Report on the Quality Criteria of Good Practice Standards in RRI would be an interesting read. An example of a tool to monitor or evaluate institutional change is the NCCPE EDGE tool for institutional reflection on public engagement. You can also give our Self-reflection Tool a try to further reflect on what your institution already does (or does not) in implementing RRI.
All voices count: Empowering the university community
In parallel, it is crucial that university staff at all levels (lecturers, researchers, technicians, managers, communication officers) become acquainted with RRI. This can be done in several ways. First, training courses, such as those devoted to identifying and avoiding scientific fraud and misconduct. An interesting online option is Training and Resources in Research Ethics Evaluation (TRREE). Second, participatory methods can be used to widen dialogue. You can find many useful methods in the Engage2020 Action Catalogue, a decision support tool that directs researchers, decision makers and others who want to conduct research inclusively to the appropriate participatory methods. Additionally, the Guide for Evaluating Public Engagement Activities will assist you in learning how to evaluate such participatory methods. And third, everyone can increase their understanding of the varieties of open access approaches. Many websites and tools are available to assist in this regard, such as the FOSTER open science training programme and the HowOpenIsIt? outreach materials. For more training resources, check the RRI Tools training web page.
Walk the talk: Fostering responsible research
Research teams, in particular, can (and should) be informed on the new RRI requisites incorporated in funding calls (such as those described in the Horizon 2020 FAQs on open access to publications and data) and on the benefits of adopting this new paradigm to obtain funding (e.g., Winning Horizon2020 with Open Science?). These calls stimulate, facilitate and promote the use of open access (e.g., Sherpa/Juliet database of funding agencies conditions), the incorporation of a variety of views and actors through initiatives like community-campus partnerships (e.g., CCPH Toolkit), science shops (e.g., Living Knowledge Science Shop Toolbox), or citizen science projects (e.g., Citizen Science Central Toolkit) and the building of collaborations between different stakeholder groups (e.g., NWO Responsible Research Programme).
Training a new generation
Professors, lecturers, and teaching assistants can also be motivated to incorporate RRI principles in their syllabi. One way to do this is to integrate the ideas of anticipation, diversity, responsiveness, sustainability and other dimensions of RRI across and throughout course topics. For inspiration check the UNIAKTIV initiative of Dresden University and the KARIM recommendations for teaching responsibility in technology courses. Other ways to incorporate RRI principles are to introduce specific RRI policy agendas through the curricula (e.g., How to incorporate ethics in the geoscience curriculum) or to adopt general courses on RRI (examples given in the last bullet of the Institutional Commitment section above) and to ensure that these activities achieve RRI learning outcomes. Projects like HEIRRI (Higher Education Institutions and RRI) and EnRRIch (Enhancing Responsible Research and Innovation through Curricula in Higher Education) are currently developing teaching resources to incorporate RRI principles in higher education curricula, which will be progressively incorporated into the RRI Toolkit.
How to incorporate RRI in science engagement organisations
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”
It is not a secret that the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) might be new to science engagement organisations. However, many elements of RRI come quite naturally for these institutions; for example, collaboration with many different stakeholders. Science engagement organisations, as non-formal and informal education institutions, provide citizens with the necessary knowledge and skills to participate in research and innovation dialogue; they spark interest in science and technology, and promote science careers, critical thinking, creativity, science literacy and responsible citizenship. It is important to remember, however, that the line between science education and public engagement is quite blurry due to the mutual learning processes that take place during public engagement activities. This section provides a snapshot of the resources available in the RRI Toolkit that science engagement organisations can use to become more RRI-friendly. It is structured to fit the various activities and roles within organisations.
As a first step on the RRI journey, it would be useful to become familiar with the definition of RRI. Introductory videos are available on the Science Education and Public Engagement landing web pages.
The second step involves implementing RRI. Science engagement organisations can incorporate the RRI approach in their everyday activities, be it developing an exhibition, organising public science events, communicating about research or working with teachers and other community members. For educators (heads of learning/education departments), the DESIRE Toolkit can be very useful for planning and implementing dissemination activities within their projects. Outreach experts (communication departments) might want to check out the open access Journal of Science Communication to keep up on the latest trends in the field. For organisations engaged in citizen science, the project Citizens Create Knowledge (GEWISS) can provide a lot of inspiration for developing citizen science, while the User’s Guide for Evaluating Learning Outcomes from Citizen Science provides a tool to measure the impact of such activities. More resources specific to citizen science can be found here. For those involved in exhibition development, the PULSE research-based and action-oriented project serves as a good example of how to apply an innovative user-driven approach to creating an exhibition and accompanying activities. Finally, the TWIST Guidelines, targeting mostly science centres and museums, help users reflect on how to incorporate gender perspectives in exhibitions and activities.
The third step addresses evaluation frameworks for RRI activities. Evaluation of RRI activities at science engagement organisations remains one of the challenges for this novel approach. The RRI Self-reflection Tool might be a good way to introduce such evaluation –it is designed to help users reflect on how RRI-oriented their practice is. Evaluation: Practical Guidelines will also help users develop an evaluation framework for public engagement activities.
Because of their role as “intermediate agents” who promote dialogue between different stakeholders, science engagement organisations can position themselves as active shapers of RRI and can become local RRI hubs in their communities. In fact, science centres and museums already have economic effects in their communities, as was shown in a study on the economic impact of science centres on their local communities. In addition, directors of science engagement organisations can play a crucial role in building collaborations with other stakeholders. Individuals and organisations can search the RRI Community of Practice to discover potential cooperation partners or to connect with experts in specific fields. And the RRI Tools Hubs can provide helpful advice. Among the hubs of this network, there are seven science centres have been acting as RRI reference points in their countries since 2014.
This section is just an overview of the many resources available in the RRI Toolkit. You can learn more from 9 developers showcased in our “Quick-start guide in RRI for Science Engagement Organisations”: a practical guide compiled by Ecsite, available here as well.
How to introduce RRI at school through project- and inquiry-based learning in STEM
Involving students and teachers in reflecting on the role of research and innovation (R&I) fosters sustainable interactions between schools, researchers, industry, and civil society organisations. In addition, integrating Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) principles in STEM teaching (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) could make STEM careers more attractive to young students and help them acquire scientific literacy and key STEM skills. Learning such skills can help students better understand science and innovation and their relations with different aspects of society and can prepare students to take part in decision-making processes that affect their future societies.
In this sense, innovative science pedagogical methods –such as project- and inquiry-based learning, structured research-like school projects, and reflections on key socio-scientific issues (SSI) and ethical, legal and social aspects (ELSA)– support the introduction of RRI in schools. Thus, the integration of these methods into the socio-scientific inquiry-based learning (SSIBL) approach represents an opportunity to introduce RRI into science education at primary and secondary schools, as proposed in the PARRISE project's best practices.
RRI and science education agenda in EU: Where are we?
The European Commission’s Science with and for Society (SwafS) programme promotes a more effective connection between science and society and outlines the fundamental role of science education in supporting young people’s awareness and involvement. The report Science Education for Responsible Citizenship goes on to present the link between education and RRI. It identifies key aspects to helping citizens acquire the knowledge of and about science they need to participate actively and responsibly in, with and for society. For example, recommendation 4.5 outlines ways to promote RRI and increase public understanding of and involvement in science.
Still, the Scientix project’s comparative analysis on efforts to increase student interest in STEM in Europe indicates that more needs to be done to raise awareness about RRI, as less than 15% of European countries have implemented RRI in school education. This is cause for concern because the ASPIRES project’s report Young People’s Science and Career Aspirations, Age 10–14, which outlines key aspects about how young people’s aspirations develop, particularly regarding science-related careers, notes that ‘science capital’, including knowledge of how science works, is a key element in aspirations for careers in science.
ELSA, SSI and scientific inquiry at school
With the previous framework in mind, introducing reflection on SSI and ELSA, as well as scientific inquiry activities and the SSIBL approach in STEM classes, supports the development of scientific literacy and the acquisition of key skills for STEM, such as inquiry and critical thinking skills. These practices can be easily integrated into any type of school activity. Some examples are including short group discussions in each science lesson, co-designing and playing debate games, and reflecting on students’ experimental processes in the lab.
The RRI Toolkit offers a range of inspiring resources for designing and implementing class activities, such as those offered by Xplore Health, which aim to facilitate information about R&I and promote reflexivity about ELSA. Resources for games and debates include The Systems Thinking Playbook for Climate Change, which offers a toolkit with interactive games for use by teachers and students in informal and formal learning contexts, and the NanOpinion project's discussion game about nanotechnology, which can be adapted to other STEM subjects.
Along these lines, the handbook for teachers “RRI in practice for schools” is a great tool to help educators design and implement activities that integrate these and other RRI practices in everyday school activities.
Making it real: Project- and inquiry-based learning
Developing school projects can foster a deeper understanding of real world processes and the acquisition of competence and skills related to all RRI dimensions. While organising project teams, teachers can trigger students’ critical reflection on gender balance and social inclusion as well as the diversity in expertise needed to tackle the different tasks and roles of a real context and the value that collaboration with external stakeholders can bring to a scientific project.
Anticipation and reflection at this stage can be supported by reflecting on a working group’s values, identifying its assumptions, and discussing how these are related and how they may affect processes and school activities. An interesting case study, which includes the students’ points of view, is described in the article 20 Tips for High-school Students Engaging in Research with Scientists. Also see TWIST’s teachers guide One Size Fits All? Enhancing Gender Awareness in Teaching, which offers guidelines and tips on dealing with gender preconceptions in the teaching practice.
RRI principles can also be strongly connected with inquiry-based activities. While identifying the research question for a science project, diversity and inclusion can be supported through group consultation and in the way knowledge is organised and generated with and interdisciplinary perspective. In that context, SiS Catalyst offers an interesting perspective on how to empower children as agents of change.
Here, anticipation and reflection can be addressed by identifying emerging needs and through reflection on whether the outcomes might be ethically acceptable, sustainable and socially desirable. Moreover, practices that simulate real research contexts can be integrated in designing and carrying out experiments. See the following for inspiration:
The ENGAGE project proposes resources (lessons, worksheets, etc.) focused on inquiry-based methodology.
The inGenious database collects tested practices focusing on how industry–school cooperative initiatives can stimulate students’ interest in STEM education and careers.
The Go-Lab portal offers opportunities to conduct inquiry-oriented activities for scientific problem solving, through a wide range of experimental protocols and virtual labs as well as tools for designing inquiry-based learning spaces.
How to co-create community-based participatory research
This short section does not offer a general recipe or a manual for the co-creation of community-based participatory research (CBPR). Instead it offers inspiration for your first engagement with this topic. The number of relevant resources in the RRI Toolkit and beyond is much larger than shown here, and many more resources and experiences will be uploaded as the Community of Practice continues to grow.
Definition and principles of CBPR
Community-based participatory research ”is a partnership approach to research that equitably involves, for example, community members, organizational representatives, and researchers in all aspects of the research process and in which all partners contribute expertise and share decision making and ownership. The aim of CBPR is to increase knowledge and understanding of a given phenomenon and integrate the knowledge gained with interventions and policy and social change to improve the health and quality of life of community members.”
CBPR's approach is characterized by ”(a) recognizing the community as a unit of identity, (b) building on the strengths and resources of the community, (c) promoting co-learning among research partners, (d) achieving a balance between research and action that mutually benefits both science and the community, (e) emphasizing the relevance of community-defined problems, (f) employing a cyclical and iterative process to develop and maintain community/research partnerships, (g) disseminating knowledge gained from the CBPR project to and by all involved partners, and (h) requiring long-term commitment on the part of all partners.”
CBPR's strengths ”are that it allows for the innovative adaptation of existing resources; explores local knowledge and perceptions; empowers people by considering them agents who can investigate their own situations; the community input makes the project credible; (...) joins research participants who have varied skills, knowledge, and expertise to address complex problems in complex situations; provides resources for the involved communities; (...) provides a forum that can bridge across cultural differences among the participants; and helps dismantle the lack of trust communities may exhibit in relation to research.” Additional benefits of CBPR are listed in this CBPR skill-building curriculum by The Examining Community-Institutional Partnerships for Prevention Research Group.
Participatory methods in CBPR ”include a range of activities with a common thread: enabling people to play an active and influential part in decisions that affect their lives.” Researchers, community members, activists and donors can all use participatory methods and conduct inclusive research. To find the participatory methods best suited to each specific need, check out the Participatory Methods Toolkit, the Participation Compass or the Action Catalogue, a decision support tool developed by Engage2020. Another option is Participedia, which offers a database of participatory political processes for researchers and practitioners. Recent attention has been directed towards particular methodologies of community-focused cooperation between civil society and those involved in research and innovation or teaching (e.g., scenario workshops, citizen science, science shops). The Sparks project, which is conducting participatory activities in many European countries, will produce a fact sheet on both the scenario workshop and the science shop methodologies, including guidelines on how to connect these methodologies with science exhibitions. They will be online by June 2016.
Resources for co-creating a CBPR project are manifold. They include tools for learning about the needs and interests of the community and people you would like to involve in activities, as well as evaluation and assessment guidelines, engagement handbooks, communication tips and links to additional sources of help and support through networks and databases. Starting points for exploration can be the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health’s (CCPH) toolkits and databases, the online curriculum for developing and sustaining effective CBPR partnerships, the CBPR Training Manual, the Science Shop Toolbox, the UK National Centre for Public Engagement’s EDGE Self-Assessment questionnaire for universities and the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.
Learning from others
The projects and experiences of national or international consortia can highlight various engagement and CBPR methodologies. Xplore Health showcases an innovative educational infrastructure, while PERARES is a good example of how science shops can facilitate cooperation with civil society organisations to generate research ideas, questions and agendas. Other outstanding projects provide insights on citizen science (GEWISS), service learning (UNIAKTIV), curriculum development in higher education institutions (EnRRICH and HEIRRI), and children as change agents (SiS Catalyst) or show how various public engagement methodologies can be combined with science exhibitions (Sparks project). A different but still interesting approach was taken by the University of Groningen, with its project to answer 400 questions in 400 days.
Networks are among the most effective models for collaboration. They offer a forum, an information clearinghouse and a vehicle to promote collective, bilateral and individual action by stakeholders. Networks encourage communication, cooperation and coordinated action while optimizing flexibility, participation and creativity. When planning a CBPR project, creativity and efficiency can be increased by consulting and involving local, national or international networks, such as the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA), Living Knowledge International Science Shops Network, CCPH, Community Based Research Canada, or the UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education. Networks are also helpful for sharing your own findings, files or resources.
How to embed RRI in citizen science