Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities
Research project

Higher Education Institutions & Responsible Research and Innovation (HEIRRI)

HEIRRI aimed to integrate the concept of “Responsible Research and Innovation” (RRI) into the science and engineering degrees; mainly focusing on universities and other higher education institutions (HEI).

figurative description of project

Main content

The concept of “Responsible Research and Innovation”, or RRI, implies the alignment of R+D+I, in all its phases, with the needs, values and expectations of society. The European Commission is very actively fostering the knowledge and practical implementation of RRI, focusing its actions on 6 key axes: public engagement; science ethics; science education; gender equality; open access; and science governance.

The HEIRRI consortium was coordinated by Universitat Pompeu Fabra; the rest of the consortium was composed of the University of Aarhus (Denmark), the University of Bergen (Norway), the University of Split (Croatia), the Institute for Advanced Studies (Austria), “La Caixa” Foundation (Barcelona, Spain), the company Innovatec (Madrid, Spain), the European Network of Science Centres and Museums (ECSITE) (with more than 400 institutions from 50 countries) and ACUP, the Catalan Association of Public Universities, which chairs GUNI, the Global University Network for Innovation (208 universities from 78 countries).

The HEIRRI project was one of the first initiatives that Horizon2020 sets in motion in order to integrate RRI into university education. Its aim was to ensure that future science and engineering professionals (and from other related fields) incorporate RRI in their activity.

Conference - March 2016

Under the subject “Teaching Responsible Research and Innovation at University”, the conference gathered more than 150 people from all over the world. Lecturers and attendees discussed about how research and innovation should respond to the needs of society and how universities can contribute towards a responsible scientific education.

The first conference of the European project HEIRRI (Higher Education Institutions and Responsible Research and Innovation), entitled “Teaching Responsible Research and Innovation at University”, gathered on March 18th more than 150 people from all over the world to discuss about the integration of the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in university education. Professionals from the Research, Development and Innovation system, teaching staff from universities, members of the scientific community and academia, representatives from science centres and museums and scientific communication associations, as well as members from public institutions, the industry and civil society organizations, actively participated in the conference to contribute to the ongoing dialogue.

The day was structured with several transdisciplinary panels and practical workshops. There had also been two keynote lectures: to open the conference, Jacqueline Broerse (UV Athena Institute Amsterdam) talked about the experience at her pioneer centre in this topic and about the challenges identified during the process to incorporate RRI in the university system. To close the day, John Goddard (Newcastle University) presented the concept of Civic University and how it can contribute to a more democratic education.

The first HEIRRI Conference improved the visibility of the project but most importantly it made possible to hear the voice of all participants and use the rich debate generated too directly contribute to the project and improve its implementation. The shared experiences of people attending from more than 20 countries worldwide (12 from Europe) are priceless for the better development of the project.

The congress was organized by “la Caixa” Foundation, of the members of the HEIRRI consortium. This European H2020 initiative is led by Pompeu Fabra University together with 8 more institutions: the aforementioned “la Caixa” Foundation, Bergen University, University of Aarhus, University of Split, the Institute for Advanced Studies of Vienna, the European network of science centres and museums Ecsite, the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP) and the private company Innovatec. The whole HEIRRI group met on the day previous to the Conference in a Consortium meeting, on Thursday 17th of March, to hold the third Consortium meeting. Representatives of all the institutions gathered at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) to talk about the several ongoing working lines, such as the State of the Art review, the material design, communication and Forum Online participation and the internationalisation of actions performed. The HEIRRI consortium is diverse and well-balanced, and from its very start all its members have been in a positive working tune with each other.

Outcome of the project

The project will develop a strategic plan with the following actions for:

  • State of the Art analysis and detection of practical cases and best practice examples.
  • Design of teaching programmes at different university levels (undergraduate, postgraduate, phD, summer courses and MOOC).
  • Elaboration of training material with the following characteristics: multimedia, created through collaborative platforms, focused on the PBL system (Problem-based Learning) and publicly available in open access.
  • Implementation of the materials and courses in 10 pilot experiences in Europe (3 of which will be done in collaboration between a university and a science museum of the same city).
  • HEIRRI Forum: actions to encourage the debate on the need to integrate RRI and to advance towards the change that it implies. The Forum includes two international conferences (offline) and an online actions programme.
  • Actions for the internationalization of the project and the elaborated material (international university meetings, fellowships, etc).
  • Communication and evaluation actions.