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Enhancing Responsible Research and Innovation through Curricula in Higher Education (EnRRICH)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EnRRICH (Enhancing Responsible Research and Innovation through Curricula in Higher Education (EnRRICH))

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-06-30

EnRRICH aims to improve the capacity of students and staff in higher education to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes to support the embedding of RRI in curricula. It is doing this by responding to the research needs of society as expressed by civil society organisations. It focuses on identifying, developing, piloting, and disseminating good practice and relevant resources to embed RRI in academic curricula across Europe. In order to achieve the overall objective of creating a better awareness and take-up of RRI in the curriculum and therefore produce more responsible and responsive researchers and enhance the capacity of higher education to respond to societal needs, we have identified 6 specific objectives:
1. To define and build a shared understanding of RRI in curricula by debating, collecting and evaluating good practice across the consortium and beyond; developing and making openly available case studies and guidelines demonstrating how RRI keys can be embedded and evaluated in a range of academic disciplines and at different levels in higher education;
2. To develop and pilot the use of RRI teaching practices based on multi stakeholder inputs, to support academic staff to integrate RRI in a range of disciplines in higher education from early stages, and to produce useable resources to enhance the uptake of RRI in curricula;
3. To test science shops and other community exchange mechanisms as methods of developing and supporting incorporation of RRI in higher education curricula, starting and mentoring new practices and upgrading already established practices through a Community of Practice;
4. To stimulate dialogue and help develop and leverage policy at international, national and institutional levels to advance the uptake of RRI in academic curricula, in particular in relation to professional frameworks that influence curriculum development and encourage recognition and reward of higher education lecturers integrating aspects of RRI keys in the curriculum
5. To enable mutual learning among EnRRICH project members, their strategic partners and networks and the wider academic and CSO communities regarding best practices and bottlenecks in enhancing RRI learning in the curriculum, learning about how practices could be improved through internal and stakeholders’ evaluation, and relating these to expectations and aspirations of national and European evaluation and quality assurance agencies;
6. To build partnerships and engage stakeholders including CSOs, higher education institutions (HEIs), research bodies, the media, relevant networks, and policy makers with the activities and results of EnRRICH from the outset, obtaining feedback from them and stimulating transnational exchange on RRI curricula for use by HEIs and other societal actors and disseminate newly developed educational material and curricula for use by HEIs.
RRI is a relatively new concept and therefore is not well known amongst designers and implementers of higher education curricula. Early project stages focused on raising awareness of RRI amongst a range of stakeholders, initially within the consortium, to scope out how RRI can connect to existing curricula. As a consequence, there is a better understanding of RRI in all of the EnRRICH institutions. Formally, interviews have taken place with people involved at different levels in designing and teaching higher education curricula. Informally discussions have also taken place with CSO partners and students. Alongside, EnRRICH has been working with other RRI EC-funded projects RRI Tools and HEIRRI, to monitor the development of RRI as a concept.
These scoping exercises led to a decision to focus on RRI process requirements (which connected better with educators) alongside the RRI keys. We have drawn out supporting competencies relating to RRI in curricula and begun to examine how to develop these amongst staff and students. The EnRRICH Tool for Educators (D2.3) has contributed to the understanding of the idea and can guide educators to revitalize their modules by applying RRI driven educational design principles, learning outcomes and strategies, etc.
Alongside this, 24 case studies from all over Europe have been developed demonstrating how RRI approaches are already being used, particularly in connection with Science Shop activity and with CSO involvement.
Trialing of teaching strategies and supporting of new Science Shops are underway, creating more opportunities for staff and students in HEIs to understand and engage in experiential learning. Highlights have included the development of a 15 credit module for teaching community based participatory research, which has been shared and on which further trials will be based and the establishment of three brand new Shops. Furthermore, three early stage Shops have been heavily supported and a community of practice has been established.
Engaging with multi-stakeholder perspectives has also been a key part of the project. A highlight was the project conference which was held in Dublin in June 2016 with attendance from 44 students; 47 CSOs; and 163 HEI/researcher/other delegates. A policymakers’ forum was also held to examine how RRI might be built into higher education policy and views of policymakers have also been sought at other events, which led to a deliverable report (D5.1). Partners have also sought to stimulate discussions on RRI in curricula by their attendance at approximately 20 other national and international conferences. Furthermore online dissemination is taking place continuously, through the newsletters, website, social media.
Mutual learning has been encouraged throughout the project. An additional WP leaders meeting was added in Month 7 to enable review and discussion of milestone and deliverable reports and an academic writing group has also been set up. The international advisory board has enabled mutual learning at a higher level.
The state of the art at the beginning was that RRI was relatively unknown to people working in higher education teaching and learning. There were also very few resources to support people. The project has moved beyond the state of the art in the following ways:
- developed an initial definition of RRI in academic curricula and begun to unpack and articulate competencies for RRI in academic curricula alongside providing resources for better understanding;
- developed an exemplar module to embed RRI in academic curricula for PhD students which will be trialed and tested by other partners;
- set up of three new Science Shops – two in areas where Science Shops have not existed before (Hungary and Lithuania) and one in a research institute (Spain). It has also begun to move existing Science Shops beyond the state of the art in terms of looking at how to embed RRI in academic curricula (trials ongoing);
- informed and engaged higher education policymakers in different areas about RRI in academic curricula and the value it might potentially have for their area of work';
- currently developing evaluation resources for RRI in academic curricula which will be trialed and evaluated;
- engaged a wide range of stakeholders at both local and international levels with ideas about RRI in academic curricula, including projects dealing with RRI.
EnRRICH logo including Living Knowledge subscript
EnRRICH logo without Living Knowledge subscript