667   Roundtable discussion

Social labs as transformative approach to implement Responsible Research and Innovation

The notion of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) reflects the changing relationship between science and society and calls for transformations of science-society relations. An open and transparent process is regarded as crucial for good scientific practices. While the inclusion of societal actors in research processes is becoming more important, the ways diverse stakeholders are included are still in development. Innovative and appropriate, which allow for real engagement and co-production of knowledge still formats need to be explored.

The New HoRRIzon project, funded by the EC, aims to further integrate RRI in research and innovation systems. It addresses RRI practices by focusing on the 19 funding programme lines of the EC. By bringing together stakeholders from the different fields of the programme lines from all over Europe, the project engages them in participative processes, in so-called Social Labs. A Social Lab is not a method, but rather a paradigm which is social, experimental and systemic that opens up space for reflection and discussion, developing new ideas and further implementing and assessing them.  A Lab thereby consists of a series of workshops, enabling a highly participative process. The diverse stakeholders involved act on an equal and collaborate basis throughout the process of the Social Lab. Each of the Labs allows for an approach of doing, rather than just planning by using experiments and prototypes and involving most diverse groups of people and finally implementing the selected activities in pilot actions.

In the context of the New HoRRIzon project, we have adapted the Social Lab approach and used it as a tool to implement public engagement within an RRI process. Each Social Lab has co-designed several pilot-actions that are – with the support of the group –  implemented and managed by the participants themselves.

Author: Ilse Marschalek
Centre for Social Innovation, Germany, Austria

ilse will talk about Social Labs as method from the perspective of a Social Lab manager; she will address framework conditions, the differences of one way communication activities versus the Social Labs approach, and its chances to bring forward a truly added value; challenges including organisational aspects such as recruitment and invitation to the Lab, work in between the workshops and cross-fertilisation across Social Labs. At ZSI staff acted in both roles, as managers and facilitators. In the role of the workshop facilitator ilse will talk about experiences in a series of 3 workshops in two different Social Labs, the interactive methods applied, facilitating factors and barriers as means for communication and integration of stakeholders, as well as general do's and don'ts to support the process.

Speaker: Joshua Cohen
University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Joshua as well will talk about the management and facilitation of the Social Lab, but also brings in the perspective of developing narratives stemming from the social lab experiences. A comprehensive reporting procedure across all labs was conducted to get insights in all critical moments which occoured along the lab processes. Lab teams were asked to reflect on the lab processes, the methods applied, the development of the pilots and the success and hindering factors of the pilot implementation. Based on theses compiled reports and a series of interviews he carried out narratives for each of the social labs. As leader of the evaluation workpackage in the project he will talk about the narrative development process and present general learnings on his pilot action theory of change.

Speaker: Elisabeth Unterfrauner
Centre for Social Innovation, Austria

Elisabeth will talk about experiences as lab facilitator in a series of 3 workshops in two different Social Labs, the methods applied, facilitating factors and barriers as means for communication and integration of stakeholders, and general do's and don'ts to support the process. Furthermore, Elisabeth will take about learnings across all 19 established labs. According to her role in the project she organised a virtual social lab for discussion and exchange between the social labs, as well as two face to face cross-sectoral workshops for all social lab teams.

Speaker: Eileen Focke-Bakker
Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

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