Healthy relationships require open communication and respect for values, expectations and goals – and the relationship between research and society is no exception. Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is an approach to research that embraces this shared responsibility throughout the entire process. By engaging with stakeholders like journalists, policymakers, or citizens, research has the opportunity to better address the issues facing society in a more inclusive way.
RRI is a priority for the European Union within its Horizon 2020 funding programme, reflecting the growing expectation that publicly-funded research be accessible and engaged with society. However, universities and research institutes still face many challenges to making RRI a reality in academic environments. Science communication and public engagement are important tools in the approach, but on their own may not be enough.
NUCLEUS’ role was to investigate and understand the challenges to RRI within universities and research institutions, and to recommend implementation strategies that have been tested in practice. The project’s working definition was based on that of the European Union: an approach where societal actors (researchers, citizens, policy makers, business, third sector organisations, etc.) work together during the whole research and innovation process in order to better align both the process and its outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of society.