PROmoting SOcietal Engagement under the terms of RRI

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) receives increasing significance as the European Union’s approach to good governance in research and innovation. The EU project PROSO deals with the question how to implement and foster societal engagement in research and innovation.

RRI seeks to align the processes and outcomes of research and innovation with the values, needs and expectations of the European society. Therefore the engagement of all societal actors including civil society organizations (CSOs) and citizens is an important element of RRI. However, there is a lack of clarity about what societal engagement actually requires, and to what extent it should be pursued. The main objective of PROSO is to foster the early engagement and cooperation of CSOs and citizens under the terms of RRI in research and innovation systems in Europe.

How to foster societal engagement in research and innovation?

With a view to RRI, what requirements do societal engagement events have to meet? How to organise engagement processes in order to successfully include a broad variety of perspectives and worldviews? And how to integrate stakeholders’ and citizens’ views and recommendations in ongoing research and innovation processes? With identifying incentives, barriers and hurdles for societal engagement in research funding, research and innovation, PROSO aims to find more effective ways to involve third-sector actors and citizens. The empirical analysis takes into account three domains of research and innovation: nanotechnology, food and health, and bio-economy.

PROSO’s analysis of barriers and hurdles for societal engagement is carried out in several steps:

  • State of the art-report on the role of and requirements for societal engagement in the context of RRI

  • Interviews with representatives of civil society organizations and science policy institutions to reveal their perspectives on and their role in engagement processes in research and innovation

  • Citizen panels in five European countries (dealing with the issues of nanotechnology, food and health, and bio-economy) to jointly identify motivations, incentives and barriers for public engagement

  • Expert workshops and one European stakeholder conference to discuss the outcomes of the PROSO’s analysis and to further develop a policy and practice guide for advancing the use of participatory approaches in research and innovation processes in Europe

PROSO’s key insights will be condensed in a policy and practice guide, which will include:

  • An overview of the barriers and incentives for engaging with third sector organizations and citizens in different research and innovation contexts

  • Best case examples of societal engagement for RRI

  • Policy and governance options for encouraging societal engagement for RRI

PROSO is carried out within a European-wide consortium comprised of four research organizations, a research-oriented civil society organisation, two strategy consulting firms, and a European industry association. An advisory panel guides the consortium in research and policy related issues.

Public engagement completes responsible innovation. PROSO will analyse how civil society actors can be involved in a meaningful and effective way. (Photo: Nathanmac87/Flickr)