Can Science Define our Identity?

Philosophers and social scientists have been hampered by inability to define what is meant by “identity”. This is because they have been unable to clarify the term “sameness” on which the definition depends. As a result, specialists in the humanities have taken very different approaches to understanding “identity”. This has resulted in widespread confusion, even chaos, in its application. Science is now able to determine precisely what is meant by “sameness” in the individual and in the group. It can, therefore, define identity objectively and succinctly at these levels. The article asks why there appears to be reluctance to accept the new paradigm.

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Science won’t be responsible until citizens get more involved

As the RRI Tools project comes to an end, it has gathered a collection of concrete solutions to engage citizens more closely with the research process. There is still a lot of work to be done to better associate citizens with the scientific process. As part of this special issue on RRI, we have asked experts in the field to take a step back and reflect on the next evolution of the RRI field. This makes for facinating reading.

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The many lives of Responsible Research and Innovation

From a distance, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) displays all of the features of a passing fashion. Yet, there is substance to it. In particular, this approach offers an opportunity to redefine divisions of moral labour in our societies. In this stimulating opinion piece, Arie Rip, professor of philosophy of science and technology at the University of Twente, The Netherlands, shares his perspective as a sociologist on the recent trend to reflect on research goals and include more actors in the research and innovation processes.

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RRI as a wake-up call

Until now, our diagnostics of the role of research and innovation in society has been too simplistic. In this opinion piece, Elisabeth Gulbrandsen, special adviser in the division for innovation of the Research Council of Norway, shares her view on how RRI can be embedded in the fabric of research programmes. She argues that RRI is a wake-up call pointing to the need to examine the nature of the research and innovation itself before we can implement a change in the culture of research, moving beyond our comfort zone.

Bitterness cannot be avoided, but should not turn into rejection

Amaya Moro Martín reacts to the FCT head resignation a couple of weeks ago and the recent death of former Portuguese science minister José Mariano Gago. She places this crisis in European research into the wider Southern European research context. She shares her unease about the collective apathy surrounding such austerity measures against research. She believes, if we don’t plant the seeds of research and innovation now, we are unlikely to reap the benefits at all.

Spring of discontent in the European science community

The new Juncker Commission is attempting to tackle the sluggish economic climate by introducing a punchy new plan. It involves the creation of the European Fund for Strategic Investment to invest in job creation and growth. This initiative has generally been welcome. Except that the proposal involves taking €2.7 billion away from Horizon 2020, the very programme supposed to produce the innovations that would contribute to the growth of the economy. This has triggered uproar in the European science community. This reaction was further compounded by criticism from the European Court of Auditors pointing to the many gaps in the proposed plan. Finally, additional concerns that further funding restrictions could be imposed on the way structural funds are permitted to be used have also emerged, given that research features low on the list of EC priorities.

Inadequate childcare policies affect scientists’ careers

The inadequacy of childcare policies across Europe, means that scientists who do not wish to be away from their lab for too long are struggling to balance their life as parents and as researchers. There are still some significant decisions concerning harmonisation of such childcare provision to be made in Europe, while further policy support would be welcome.