Bernd Stahl, RRI expert and Director of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University (UK),wrote an article at the beginning of October following the workshop on RRI post-Brexit held at University College London (UCL) on September 23rd. During the workshop, attendees (researchers, research funders and policy makers connected to RRI) discussed the current state of RRI in the UK and where the research field might head next considering the Brexit scenario.
Bernd Stahl’s article embraces the workshop’s outcomes and suggests that the interim head of UK Research and Innovation (from now on, UKRI) should be responsible for responsible innovation across the entire remit, therefore this submission was created to the inquiry of the House of Commons Science and Technology.
In summary, the text raises the following issues:
– the importance of integrating RRI into the role of the Interim Chair of UKRI, defining RRI as a transparent, interactive process by which societal actors and innovators become mutually responsible to each other.
– the reorganization of the UK research and innovation funding system requires a transparent, iterative process of engagement with citizens to safeguard the reputation of academic researchers as independent, trustworthy, actors.
– the need for better public engagement has to be recognized by the research and innovation community.
– the interim chair of UKRI has to establish a framework for assessing the value to society and impact of research and innovation funding. There is the need to look beyond the immediate scope of research projects to identify secondary impacts on citizens, communities and society, including the environment.
– the submission identifies the need for multi- and interdisciplinary research that lies outside the remit of the current funding bodies.
– the article includes that the establishment of the UKRI is an opportunity for the UK to position itself as a leader in anticipating the science and technology implications of research and their societal impacts.
– in terms of UKRI’s governance, the inquiry ponders over the “need for a system that is sufficiently integrated, strategic and agile to meet future challenges”.
Post-Brexit uncertainty hits UK Higher Education Institutions and some reflexions and initiatives are being put on the table in order to protect universities after the referendum’s result. The integration of RRI into the role of the Interim Chair of UKRI might guarantee the continuity of RRI in the UK.