Tool Training

Resources for enhancing RRI understanding and prompting debate on societal issues in the curriculum for early stage students

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 11 April 2018

Ruth Hally, Catherine O’Mahony and Kenneth Burns. University College Cork, Ireland. EnRRICH project

A key objective of the EnRRICH project is to improve the capacity of students and staff in higher education to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes to support the embedding of RRI in curricula by responding to the research needs of society as expressed by civil society organisations. Work package 3 was responsible for developing and piloting RRI educational materials to support academic staff to integrate RRI in their disciplines and to produce a range of resources to sustainably embed RRI in curricula.

If you are new to Responsible Research and Innovation but are keen to learn more and subsequently introduce the concept in the classroom, there are a number of websites and resources that develop your understanding of RRI. Becoming familiar with RRI terminology and theory will help you get the most out of this document and the enclosed case studies. These sites and resources form part of the selected reading list towards the end of this document. In particular, readers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the EnRRICH Tool for Educators, which provides readers with an overview of RRI terminology and the development of the RRI policy agendas as well as introducing RRI in higher education design principles:

  • Principle 1 Education for Society
  • Principle 2 Education with Society
  • Principle 3 Education to whole persons

The information provided in this document is primarily linked to Principle 1, Education for Society. These three principles provide guidance on how to resign assessments, activities, courses and programmes in order to develop students’ RRI competences. Students participating in courses that utilise the following cases studies will be supported to consider the broader issues and concerns faced by society and how their discipline might address these.

Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is, for the most part, new to early-stage students. Students, through their studies and research dissertations, will perhaps be familiar with concepts such as ethics, research integrity, gender equality, open access, sustainability, science education, and social justice. However, some students may not be yet have been exposed to RRI during their learning and need to have their introduction to RRI scaffolded.

The case studies in this deliverable were used by partners to help students reflexively engage with RRI, and on how research and practice within their discipline could incorporate openness and transparency, anticipation and reflection with the research design and innovations processes. Working with students who are entirely new to RRI can be both challenging and rewarding for both students and educators! To help pique students’ interests and to make connections between RRI and their discipline, research and their practice, it is important that students are incrementally exposed to RRI and are provided with stimulating examples to which they can respond and discuss the relevance and applicability of RRI. 

To this end, the case studies profiled in this deliverable, have been trialled and refined by members of the EnRRICH project to help scaffold students’ learning and development. Through the use of examples, exercises and techniques that are, for example, gripping, contentious and colourful, we have been able to encourage students to debate and negotiate the complexities of research, innovation and development and to wider policy and political initiatives. For example, EnRRICH members built links between RRI and the European Commission’s Grand Societal Challenges, the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and national policies on community-university engagement.

These case studies are featured because of their applicability and because they feature a range of provocative topics. Some of these resources will be more appropriate for one-off RRI workshops with students (e.g. Case Study 1) where the educator has limited time to gain an understanding of RRI. Other resources may work best if introduced as part of a wider module or programme where the educator wants to explore topics such as policy development (e.g. Case Study 3), or to open dialogue on complex societal challenges (e.g. Case Study 4).

The following case studies are distilled, summative versions of the prompts used by EnRRICH members and their colleagues. The Appendix section provides more comprehensive information to aid readers to adapt and trial the tools in their own settings. 

How-To Guide
To prompt debate and to enhance knowledge on societal issues and RRI, the following table presents a suggested blue-print for educators when introducing prompts featured in case studies 1 – 5. The how-to guide is intended to guide educators to understand how these prompts fit within, and are useful for, exploring RRI in the classroom. You will also see that several of the case studies provide how-to guides that are specific to prompts featured in the case studies. 

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