How to make engagement second nature to research and innovation?
Societal engagement with research and innovation is a core principle of of Responsible Research and Innovation, the European Union’s approach to good governance in research and innovation. The Horizon 2020 project PROSO “Promoting Societal Engagement under the terms of RRI” (2016-2018, explored the barriers and incentives for the engagement of third sector organizations (like NGOs) and citizens for Responsible Research and Innovation. The overall aim of PROSO was to develop practical options for a variety of actor groups on how to foster societal engagement in science, research and innovation under RRI. On February 19th, 2018 the PROSO Consortium presented the „Support tool for societal engagement“ at the PROSO Dissemination Conference in Brussels.
Promoting multi-actor engagement
This final event aimed at fostering the dialogue on societal engagement beyond project findings and succeeded to embed PROSO results in the variety of activities in the field of engagement. Engaging speakers and participants from different backgrounds (research, engagement practice, European Commission, European Parliament, CSOs, policy, industry, science communication, science funding) in panels and small group discussions ensured a lively exchange of opinions and thus spread the message of promoting multi-actor engagement of PROSO even further. Focusing on the question of “Empowering by engaging? What could/should empowerment imply?”, a first round of panel discussions provided a platform for coordinators of RRI and engagement projects to discuss their experiences with societal engagement and RRI not only on a general level, but also in the light of more specific settings, such as the context of emerging technologies (e.g. nanotechnologies or synthetic biology).
Subsequently, two cases were presented on how to engage and empower various actor groups in different research fields (Wellnow Initiative for the domain of food&health and the NanoCap project for the domain of nanotechnology). As a follow-up, Round Robin sessions allowed speakers from industry, civil society organizations, science journalism, research funding and trade unions to discuss their specific experiences with engagement and ways of implementing RRI with attendants in small groups.
PROSO’s agenda is not yet complete: as members of the GoNano Consortium also were involved in the PROSO project, findings and experiences of PROSO will continue to inspire following EU projects
Finally, a concluding panel discussion located PROSO findings in the light of ongoing activities regarding RRI and engagement activities of the European Parliament and European Commission, providing outlook into the near future of societal engagement in the agenda of the EU. However, with this conference, PROSO’s agenda of fostering societal engagement is not yet complete: as members of the GoNano Consortium also were involved in the PROSO project, findings and experiences of PROSO will continue to inspire following EU projects with regard to multi-actor engagement activities in science, research and innovation.