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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Foundations in Responsible Research and Innovation (PGSP11534)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe Engineering and Physical Science Research Council and other funding bodies (eg European Union) require scientists and engineers to acknowledge and address the social and ethical dimensions of their research. Furthermore, researchers are often expected to field media enquiries, take part in public engagement activities, contribute to policy making, work through regulatory issues related to their research, and participate in interdisciplinary teams. This course will equip students with the skills and confidence to contribute productively to broader discussions of what it means to be a 'responsible researcher'
Course description 1) Academic course description

This interdisciplinary course aims to equip students to address the social, legal and ethical issues surrounding research and innovation. It will introduce students to the body of scholarship arising from the new field of Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, particularly in relation to new and emerging science and technology (NEST). It will explore the concept of responsible research and innovation and how this may bear upon the roles of scientists and engineers in NEST projects including public engagement, risk and ethical audit, assessment of innovation trajectories and outcomes.

2) Outline syllabus

i) Introduction: how and why the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation was proposed and the debates about how this may be achieved in research and development activities

ii) Analysing processes of research and innovation; the role of scientists and engineers and a range of stakeholders including innovators, regulators and diverse publics; how these may vary between different technoscientific and application domains

iii) Examining issues involved in the promotion and regulation of new and emerging science and technology; the emerging new risk governance framework including proposals for public engagement and ethical audit of research and engineering activities; attempts at anticipatory governance including 'Constructive Technology Assessment'

iv) communicating these issues to external stakeholders

v) applying these concepts to specific areas of contemporary research and innovation including big data and artificial intelligence and biomedical research and other fields of New and Emerging Science and Technology. Examining how these may inform choices in the student's own proposed research field.

3) Student learning experience

Lectures will be used to deliver the underlying conceptual frameworks.
(In future online delivery may be an attractive option). Educationally the prime emphasis of the course will be on seminar-style presentations and class discussions through which the students will develop reflective and communication (presentation, report writing) skills.
Teaching will be designed to support enrolment from a range of backgrounds (in terms of differing levels of familiarity eg with social science frameworks and terminology and writing/presentation skills) and assessment methods will address this.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  18
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment will be based on:
1) a briefing for a public engagement exercise explaining a technoscientific project and its potential social and ethical dimensions (30%); (powerpoint presentation with presenter notes or script (500 words max)
2) a report mapping the potential implications and orientations of diverse stakeholders in relation to a selected research project (70%) (2000 words max)
Feedback The seminar format will encourage peer-to-peer and teacher to peer feedback, contributing to formative assessment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a critical understanding of the role of researchers in academia and society and what might be entailed by the practice of responsible research and innovation
  2. Engage critically with the work of Science and Technology Studies on research and innovation, their governance, and public engagement.
  3. Consider the potential orientation of a range of stakeholders (researchers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, regulators, diverse publics) in relation to the development and exploitation of research; consider their differing orientations, assess competing claims and make informed judgments
  4. Develop their ability to present - in written and verbal form -- coherent, balanced arguments about the social and ethical dimensions of developments in science and engineering research and innovation.
  5. Use a range of research skills to plan and execute an original report reflecting on how scientists and engineers have responded to the challenges of being a responsible researcher.
Reading List
Balmer, A, Calvert, J, Marris, C, Molyneux-Hodgson, S, Frow, E, Kearnes, M, Bulpin, K, Schyfter, P, Mackenzie, A and Martin, P (2015) Taking Roles in Interdisciplinary Collaborations: Reflections on working in Post-ELSI Spaces in the UK Synthetic Biology Community, Science and Technology Studies 28 (3): 3-25

Bubela, T., Hagen, G. & Einsiedel, E. (2012) Synthetic biology confronts publics and policy makers: challenges for communication, regulation and commercialization. Trends in Biotechnology 30(3): 132-137.

Burgess, J. (2005) Follow the argument where it leads: Some personal reflections on policy-relevant research, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 30 (3): 273-281.

De Marchi, B. & Ravetz, J. R. (1999) Risk management and governance: a post-normal science approach. Futures 31:743-757.

Holliman, R. (2004) Media coverage of cloning: a study of media content, production and reception, Public Understanding of Science,13, 107-130.

Macnaghten, P. & Owen, R. (2011) Good governance for geoengineering, Nature, Vol 479: 293.

Owen, R., Mcnaghten, P. & Stilgoe, J. (2012) Responsible research and innovation: From science in society to science for society, with society. Science and Public Policy 39: 751-760.

Sarewitz, D. & Pielke, R. Jnr. (1999) Prediction in science and policy. Technology in Society 21: 121-133.

Schot, J.W. (1992), Constructive Technology Assessment and Technology Dynamics, The Case of Clean Technologies. Science, Technology & Human Values 17 36-56.

Smith, R.D.J., Scott, D., Kamwendo, Z.T., Calvert, J. (2019) An Agenda for Responsible Research and Innovation in ERA CoBioTech. Swindon, UK: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and ERA CoFund on Biotechnology

Stilgoe, J., Watson, M. & Kuo, K. (2013) Public engagement with biotechnologies offers lessons for the governance of geoengineering research and beyond. Plos Biology, e1001707

Stirling A. (2012) Opening up the politics of knowledge and power in bioscience, PLoS Biology, 10(1) e1001233.

Tait J. (2009) Upstream engagement and the governance of science: the shadow of the genetically modified crops experience in Europe, EMBO Reports, 10 (Supplement 1): S18-S22.

Williams, Robin (2006) Compressed foresight and narrative bias: Pitfalls in assessing high technology futures, Science As Culture, Vol. 15, No. 4, 327 ¿ 348
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students will have strengthened their skills in:

- understanding the role and accountabilities of researchers in different contexts;
- understanding the responses and orientation of a range of stakeholders in relation to developments in research and innovation;
- presenting information visually and orally (in seminars and essays).
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Robert Smith
Tel: (0131 6)504 258
Course secretaryMrs Beth Richardson-Mills
Tel: (0131 6)51 1659
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