About Responsible Innovation

The world faces persistent problems: economic crises and rising inequality are coinciding with the growing awareness that current approaches to meeting our demands – whether in food, energy, water or resources – are unsustainable. We must address these issues now, through innovation policies that are focused on transformative change.
We need a new approach to innovation policy for two good reasons:

  • Science and technology are vital to solving persistent social and environmental problems.
  • Too often we assume that promoting innovation is always positive, while it is evident that innovation also has a darker side. Some forms of innovation can lead to unemployment, violence, the further destruction of our environment and the erosion of our privacy.

In other words, what we need is RI and this is now a key pillar in the strategy of the European Union and the Dutch government to create sustainable, inclusive growth and prosperity and address the societal challenges of Europe and the world. The need to gear the innovation process to societal needs is also reflected in many high-level policy, strategy and programming documents for RI:

For a detailed definition of RI, see also www.karimnetwork.com/forward

RI learning objectives and key content

RI comprises two key notions: Ethical acceptability and orientation towards societal needs and grand challenges.  Engineers need professional competences and abilities to improve societal outcomes and to develop appropriate innovative solutions which accommodate core values such as sustainability, privacy, safety and security.

Education in the field of RI implies that responsible agents must have been enabled:

  • To obtain relevant knowledge on: (i) the consequences of the outcomes (ii) the range of options they have;
  • To evaluate both outcomes and options in terms of relevant moral values: wellbeing, justice, equality, privacy, autonomy, safety, security, sustainability, accountability, democracy and efficiency;
  • To use these considerations as requirements for design and development of new technology, products and services leading to moral improvement.

The following content is key in this respect:

  • RI and ethical issues (key values, moral overload, responsibilities, values embedded in products and services);
  • The innovation process from a RI-perspective;
  • Safety (unintended harm), Security (intended harm) and risks analysis;
  • Value Sensitive Design and the 8 underlying steps;
  • Understanding the concept of frugal innovation (re-engineering products and services);
  • Understanding of empirical, conceptual and technological research;
  • Standards and implications;
  • A large number of best practices addressing the need of different disciplines and target groups.

For this project, we will develop multipurpose online content.