How to incorporate RRI in higher education institutions
In addition to instructing the next generation of policy makers, entrepreneurs, researchers and global thought leaders, higher education institutions have a prominent role in research and innovation (R&I). As such, they are vital actors in transforming society and dealing with today’s grand societal challenges. Higher education institutions can optimally fulfil their role as change agents by advancing the skills pertinent to conducting RRI and promoting the governance agendas key to RRI in such institutions. Thus, higher education institutions can help transform the R&I system such that societal responsiveness, sustainability and ethical acceptability become R&I’s new normal.
RRI Tools has gathered and developed practical resources that might help you in taking the necessary steps to embed RRI in your higher education institution. This transformation requires acting at different levels and involving not only the university community but also actors who are traditionally outside the campus.
Institutional commitment: Embedding RRI on campus
At the institutional level (provost, council, boards) a variety of measures can be taken to foster and support RRI, such as the development of:
A plan to foster dialogue, reflection, participation and public engagement in your institution. The Sciencewise Departmental Dialogue Index is a toolkit that can help you make a plan for your organisation.
Policies to promote transparency and openness across the scientific process (e.g., TOP guidelines) and measures to promote open access to research findings. A great number of such measures can be found at the ROARMAP registry of mandates and policies adopted by universities, research institutions and funders (for more details check the How to Implement OA Policies at Institutions section in this Toolkit).
All voices count: Empowering the university community
In parallel, it is crucial that university staff at all levels (lecturers, researchers, technicians, managers, communication officers) become acquainted with RRI. This can be done in several ways. First, training courses, such as those devoted to identifying and avoiding scientific fraud and misconduct. An interesting online option is Training and Resources in Research Ethics Evaluation (TRREE). Second, participatory methods can be used to widen dialogue. You can find many useful methods in the Engage2020 Action Catalogue, a decision support tool that directs researchers, decision makers and others who want to conduct research inclusively to the appropriate participatory methods. Additionally, the Guide for Evaluating Public Engagement Activities will assist you in learning how to evaluate such participatory methods. And third, everyone can increase their understanding of the varieties of open access approaches. Many websites and tools are available to assist in this regard, such as the FOSTER open science training programme and the HowOpenIsIt? outreach materials. For more training resources, check the RRI Tools training web page.