The Hub

Leading international organisations increasingly recognise the complicated place of science and technology in the development of contemporary societies. What is less-frequently acknowledged is the amount of social and political agency that exists to direct the shared pathways of science, technology and society.

The Edinburgh Hub for Responsible Innovation provides a space to develop:

Analyses

that critically examine and build knowledge about the place of science and technology in democratic societies.

Methodologies

to illuminate the taken-for-granted cultural, social, political and ethical dimensions of new knowledge and technology.

Collaborations

between scientists, policy makers, artists, social scientists and publics that explore the dominant directions of science, technology and innovation, and collectively suggest alternatives.

Analyses

that critically examine and
build knowledge about
the place of science and 
technology in democratic societies.

Methodologies

to illuminate the
taken-for-granted
cultural, social, political
and ethical dimensions
of new knowledge
and technology.

Collaborations

between scientists,
policy makers, artists,
social scientists and
publics that explore
the dominant directions
of science, technology and
innovation, and collectively
suggest alternatives.

Analyses

that critically examine and build knowledge about the place of science and technology in democratic societies.

Methodologies

to illuminate the taken-for-granted cultural, social, political and ethical dimensions of new knowledge and technology.

Collaborations

between scientists, policy makers, artists, social scientists and publics that explore the dominant directions of science, technology and innovation, and collectively suggest alternatives.

What is Responsible Innovation? And what does it ask?

Where are science, technology and society going?
How they might get there?
Who will benefit?
Who should decide?

Work under this rubric seeks to transform policies and institutions, allowing people to build forms of science, technology and innovation that are more sustainable and more democratic than they have been historically. Responsible innovation builds on longstanding approaches in Science and Technology Studies (STS) and related fields that analyse the place of science in society.

Prominent science policy organisations, such as the European Commission, the OECD, the Norwegian Research Council, and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have developed their own approaches to put the ideas behind responsible innovation into practice. In the UK, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) ‘AREA Framework’ has been particularly prominent. AREA is a procedural framework that asks researchers, research organisations and research funders to:

Anticipate

Consider the possible known, known unknown, and unknown unknown consequences of a particular scientific development or technological invention.

Reflect

Critically unpack the forces, motivations, and assumptions driving a given research trajectory and consider alternatives.

Engage

Open-up these appraisals to a broad range of stakeholders, public groups and experts with knowledge of the context.

Act

Integrate the outcomes of this process into decision making about science, technology and innovation.

Anticipate

Consider the possible known,
known unknown, and unknown unknown
consequences of a particular
scientific development or
technological invention.

Reflect

Critically unpack the forces,
motivations, and assumptions
driving a given
research trajectory and
consider alternatives.

Engage

Open-up these appraisals
to a broad range of
stakeholders, public groups
and experts with
knowledge of the context.

Act

Integrate the outcomes
of this process
into decision making
about science,
technology and innovation.

Anticipate

Consider the possible known, known unknown, and unknown unknown consequences of a particular scientific development or technological invention.

Reflect

Critically unpack the forces, motivations, and assumptions driving a given research trajectory and consider alternatives.

Engage

Open-up these appraisals to a broad range of stakeholders, public groups and experts with knowledge of the context.

Act

Integrate the outcomes of this process into decision making about science, technology and innovation.

Responsible innovation in Edinburgh

In Scotland, The University of Edinburgh is unique in its expertise with responsible innovation and related ideas. Led from the department of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, our work centres on developing social, political and policy analyses of science, technology and innovation, and collaborating with partners to embed their lessons in practice:

> Our research in the Centre for Systems and Synthetic Biology (SynthSys) and UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology involves interdisciplinary collaborations between natural scientists, social sciences and engineers to explore the philosophical, social and political dimensions of making biology easier to engineer.

> With a consortium of European Research Funders, we are examining the public value of biotechnology and building capacity to support responsible innovation within science administration.

> The university’s Responsible Metrics group draws on lessons in the social sciences to develop indicators and evaluation methods that can foster innovative, inclusive and supportive research cultures.

> Within EPSRC and UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training Programmes, we are developing curricula to encourage and enable junior researchers to reflect on the social and political dimensions of their work and respond to those dimensions as they progress through their careers. This work extends our mature undergraduate and masters level curricula in science, technology and society.