How the EU may support and enable universities’ ongoing transformations

By SalM on October 23, 2020 in News

“Towards a 2030 Vision on the Future of Universities in Europe” study sets out a stakeholder-driven, strategic Vision 2030 for the future of universities in Europe in research and innovation.

Recognising Europe’s diverse university landscape, the study considers the extent to which – and how – universities’ ongoing transformations might best be supported through EU support (e.g. policy changes, funding, legal mechanisms).

The Vision is underpinned by European values, such as respecting institutional autonomy and academic freedom, scientific and research excellence by exploiting universities’ investments in fundamental research, delivery societally-relevant research, maintaining trust, equality of opportunity and inclusivity, and openness based on reciprocity from third countries (e.g. through open science, open access and open data approach in which Europe excels).

The study assignment, “Towards a 2030 Vision on the Future of Universities in Europe” was commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD). It was undertaken by the Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services LLP (CSES), supported a team of high-level experts composed of academics and ex-academics.

Europe’s university landscape comprises more than 5000 universities and is characterised by its heterogeneity. The Vision provides an enabling, non-prescriptive framework, which recognises the imperative of maintaining the autonomy of universities and ensuring the principle of academic freedom. It also embodies the values
provided in EU primary legislation, which will underpin the Vision’s implementation.

Accordingly, the Vision – and the transformation modules that underpin it – need to be flexible enough to accommodate differences between universities. These include the degree of emphasis on their different missions (e.g. educational, teaching, research and innovation, societal), the extent of their existing contribution and future capacity to contribute to excellent science, and their different disciplinary and inter-disciplinary strengths.

Reflecting this diversity, the Vision seeks to support universities and to enable them to autonomously determine their own developmental needs and pathways towards the achievement of the 2030 Vision.
Given that the Vision covers a broad range of issues, challenges and opportunities for universities between now and 2030, an effort was made to build a consensus among stakeholders. However, whilst the analysis presented in the report has been closely informed by desk research, stakeholder events and feedback from the university networks, there are divergent viewpoints in some areas. This reflects different viewpoints among different types of universities in Europe and variance in the baseline situation in terms of how strong particular universities are in the research and innovation domain already, and what progress remains.

As such, the study represents the authors’ best efforts to establish a degree of consensus on the main priorities for universities in Europe.

In parallel with the publication of the revitalised European Research Area (ERA) Communication 2020, this report is designed to provide inspiration for the development of an EU policy framework on the future of universities in the fields of research and innovation. The study, therefore, provides an important starting point to inform the policy debate on a possible follow-up Communication on the Future of Universities in Europe to 2030 in 2021. This could set out in greater detail how Europe might best support and further enable universities’ ongoing transformations, building on the section of the new ERA Communication which addresses this topic.

Read the whole study here. 

Building structure in cross-sectoral collaborations

By SalM on October 22, 2020 in News

Institutional structure is crucial to the success of a cross-sectoral collaboration. Building such a structure is an on-going and complex process and not a one-time exercise.

The experiences from the RiConfigure Social Labs and Dialogue Days suggest a list of structural elements that partners in a collaboration should attend to in order to make it thrive:

  1. The financial framework – financial resources and their distribution naturally affects the nature of collaborations. Partners should be aware that their financial contributions are closely related to (often tacit) power structures, which manifests themselves in agenda setting, decision power and inclusion/exclusion from the collaboration. Moreover, civil society often lack financial resources, which is why external funding that is often stable and equally distributed is a powerful means to achieve a successful quadruple helix collaboration.
  2. Collaboration constellation – the order in which partners enter into the collaboration is central to its structure. Partners should be aware that the initiating actor often has a decisive impact on the structure of the collaboration and that civil society is often the last one to enter leaving its actors with a more peripheral role.
  3. Legal and governance frameworks – clear guidelines support collaboration. These might include non-disclosure agreements, letters of intent and written workplans but also agreements with external actors such as funding agencies or governance boards. However, partners should be aware that familiarity with these types of agreement varies. They might especially be new to civil society actors.
  4. Common vision and shared goals – these should be ensured to help overcoming collaboration barriers. Common vision and shared goals both apply to the concrete collaboration working toward a certain value output, but it also implies wider goals such as national R&I strategies or the UN SDGs. Idealist perspectives might also motivate collaboration.
  5. Regular reflection – cross-sectoral collaboration is complex involving a variety of people, cultures, practices, geographical distances etc. Consequently, partners should prioritize regular reflection in order to help aligning goals, building trust, fostering transparency, and overcoming communication barriers and power gaps.

In addition to this, participants of the RiConfigure Dialogue provided the following recommendations for policy that could ease the efforts of building structure:

  1. Increase funding for inclusive collaboration that allows adaptation and experimentation as well as support- and training structures.
  2. Raise awareness of collaborative innovation and challenge the dominance of ‘business orientation’.
  3. Support collaborative efforts as opposed to stakeholder engagement.
  4. Pluralize the understanding of civil society, establishing a continuum from civil society organizations to less privileged publics.

How many institutional changes have Horizon2020 RRI projects yet achieved?

By SalM on October 22, 2020 in News

Niamh Delaney and Raluca Iagher developed a report on Institutional changes towards responsible research and innovation: Achievements in Horizon 2020 and recommendations on the way forward. This document reports on the Horizon 2020 Science with and for Society (SwafS), Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) project portfolio results.

We need science education for all, gender equality in our organisations, ethics and integrity embedded in research, communication we can trust, open science and ultimately place citizens at the core to ensure excellent Research and Innovation to tackle the challenges of today for a better future. Europe can only thrive by matching the immense potential of science with the values, needs, and aspirations of society. Horizon Europe must strengthen efforts to tap into the vast potential citizens have to offer and ensure effective cooperation between science and society.


Executive Summary


Research and innovation are essential to finding solutions to the pressing challenges we face. It requires opening up the research and innovation system to the participation and collective intelligence of society, embedding high integrity and ethics standards, raising interest in science, and supporting Europe’s brightest minds engage in scientific careers. Put simply, Europe cannot thrive without ensuring the best possible match between the immense potential achievements science has to offer and the needs, values and aspirations of citizens.

Institutional changes towards responsible research and innovation

The objective of this report is to convey the achievements of the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) projects funded under the Science with and for Society (hereinafter referred to as SwafS) part of Horizon 2020. Its purpose is to serve as input for the preparation of the Horizon Europe programme implementation.


Overview of SwafS Implementation in Horizon 2020


A budget of EUR 462 million was earmarked for SwafS in Horizon 2020. Close to 2,000 proposals submitted in response to the annual calls for proposals, convey strong interest in SwafS matters. The annual evaluations are deemed to be highly robust. So far, they resulted in 150 funded projects and close to 50 more projects are expected to stem from the final calls under Horizon 2020. Since the start of this Framework Programme, REA Unit B.5 manages the projects. SwafS projects are typically composed of large consortia with an average of 11 partners and tend to run for around 3 years.


Institutional Changes towards Responsible Research and Innovation


The Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach supported by the European Commission since 2011 encourages societal actors to work together during the whole research and innovation (R&I) process to better align R&I and its outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of society. RRI topics have been geared towards establishing institutional changes in higher education institutes, research funding and performing organisations, industry, SMEs, as well as local and regional authorities, opening them up to closer co-operation with citizens and civil society. After analysing where organisations stand in terms of existing RRI practices, projects drafted action plans to support the implementation of institutional changes intended to last beyond the lifetime of project funding.

Projects focused on implementing institutional changes in research funding and performing organisations, higher education institutions, as well as research and technology organisations in terms of their governance systems related, for instance, to ethics, open science, citizen engagement and gender equality. Industry-focused projects produced practical tools and highlighted promising practices to enable the development of innovative products and services that directly address societal needs while contributing to environmental and economic sustainability. The territorial portfolio of projects supports around 10 per cent of all EU regions to develop more open and collaborative approaches to society by taking a Responsible Research and Innovation approach. Many of the projects from across this portfolio have taken disciplinary or sectoral approaches (e.g. focused on marine research institutes, the biosciences, or deindustrialising regions), suggesting that drawing on common links can foster productive environments for conceptualisation and implementation of institutional changes.

Furthermore, RRI projects produced an array of invaluable resources for organisations intending to implement RRI practices. Embedding RRI and implementing structural changes in the European R&I landscape requires building a strong evidence base, disseminating tools and practices, supporting networks of practitioners, and effectively 6 monitoring progress towards goals. For instance, FP7’s MoRRI project implemented the first RRI monitoring system in Europe and its successor Supper_MoRRI, supported by SwafS, builds on this work. The portfolio of RRI projects as a whole is marked by a high level of global collaboration, helping influence the development of policies at national level and raising the EU’s profile as a global R&I actor. The ‘Pathways declaration’ emerging from one of the projects, signed by more than 13 projects, called for RRI to remain a central objective in EU R&I and for the EU to continue to pursue its leading role in this effort.


Concluding remarks


Since 2014, the projects funded under ‘Science with and for Society’ contributed to its primary aims set out in the EU Regulation establishing Horizon 2020, notably to effectively build cooperation between science and society, recruit new talent for science and pair scientific excellence with social awareness and responsibility.1 One of the key ways of working towards these three SwafS objectives, and ensuring impact, is the implementation of institutional changes2 in beneficiaries reflected in the SwafS Key Performance Indicator: ‘Percentage of research organisations funded implementing actions to promote Responsible Research and Innovation, and number of institutional change measures adopted as a result’. 3

The results of a sample of twelve RRI projects revealed that almost 250 individual institutional change actions are implemented or in the process of being implemented by this part of the SwafS portfolio.4 Added to this, is the pioneer of institutional changes, the Gender Equality Plans (GEPs), with 130 institutions (78%) having implemented or in the process of implementing a GEP.

SwafS will well and truly surpass its target of 100 institutional changes in beneficiaries by the end of Horizon 2020. Consequently, SwafS stakeholders are in an excellent position to take a leading role in supporting other entities envisaging institutional transformation.

In conclusion, inclusiveness on all levels underpins SwafS. RRI dimensions (gender, open access, science education, ethics and public engagement), must be part of how research and innovation is realised in all domains as well as its implications for governance. Horizon Europe needs to leverage SwafS know-how and tap into the vast potential citizens and society have to offer and continue to ensure effective cooperation between science and society. 1 Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing Horizon 2020 2 An institutional change is a change (with meaningful impact) in terms of how a beneficiary governs or structures itself in relation to any of the RRI dimensions (public engagement, open access, gender, ethics, science education), and lasts beyond the lifetime of project funding. 3 Horizon 2020 indicators 4

This data collection exercise did not cover projects dedicated to gender equality, ethics, or open access/open data, which, to various degrees, focus also on institutional changes.

Read the whole report here.

Source: https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/582ef256-cbcc-11ea-adf7-01aa75ed71a1

 

Mapping RRI dimensions into regional development

By SalM on October 21, 2020 in News

The recent study from Panciroli et al. (2020) “Mapping RRI Dimensions and Sustainability into Regional Development Policies and Urban Planning Instruments” was published within the framework of the European Union’s H2020 Research and Innovation Programme on building self-sustaining research and innovation ecosystems in Europe through Responsible Research and Innovation. The study presents a comprehensive methodology for integrating RRI practices into territorial planning.

In particular, the authors argue that with regional and local authorities being encouraged to take advantage of the Responsible Research and Innovation approach, it is of utmost importance to learn more about the process behind it and the ways of implementing it, especially as it affects territorial development policies. To that end, embedding RRI into territorial development policies and spatial planning tools is not a clear and linear process. Consciously or not, many territories have already adopted policies and planning instruments that incorporate RRI, generating effects at spatial scales, and the study essentially explores these subtle processes.

As the authors mentioned, describing the degree of inclusion of Responsible Research and Innovation in European territories is still a challenge. When it comes to aligning R&I outcomes to the values, needs, and expectations of the society, the investigation of the characteristics of the regional development policies and urban planning instruments is believed to be a key opportunity to picture the state-of-the-art on how territories have been able to embed RRI into policy instruments to drive the development of such territories.

The central aim of the study is to provide a methodology to map the inclusion of RRI dimensions into regional development policies and spatial planning instruments, in order to detect integrated strategies and elements that are sustainable, open, inclusive, anticipative, and responsive. The mapping methodology has been applied to the three SeeRRI territories, providing them with a baseline to improve the integration of the RRI approach in their commitments to develop self-sustaining research and innovation ecosystems. Through the lessons learned from the pilot cases, recommendations are drawn for the integration of RRI in spatial and urban planning policies and tools.

The paper has been published in Open Access here.

Authors: Panciroli, A.; Santangelo, A.; Tondelli, S. (2020). Mapping RRI Dimensions and Sustainability into Regional Development Policies and Urban Planning Instruments. Sustainability 2020, 12, 5675.

Source: https://rri2scale.eu/index.php/2020/10/16/mapping-rri-dimensions-into-regional-development-a-study

Implementing Responsible Research and Innovation: Organisational and National Conditions

By SalM on October 20, 2020 in News

What are the drivers of and barriers to RRI implementation? See here for a summary of 12 national reports (both EU and from further afield) produced by the now-concluded RRI PRACTICE project.

The book disseminates both the organisational analysis conducted in the project and the comparison of the national discourses and practices of relevance to RRI. As the overall research design and the theoretical framework employed in the project is of direct import on the coding scheme used in Part I, they treat the research design and theoretical backbone of the project in Part I, while the analysis of national discourses and practices are discussed in Part II. The national discourses and further national environment are frequently discussed and shown to be of importance for the organisations surveyed in Part I. The further treatment and comparison of national discourses and practices in Part II allow us to deepen our understanding of the impact of the national environments of the organisations surveyed with respect to conditions for the uptake of RRI. They conclude the book with reflections on the relation between the organisational and national analyses.


Introduction to the RRI-Practice Study


RRI is the acronym for Responsible Research and Innovation, a concept supported by the European Commission, calling for a new relationship between society, research, and innovation (von Schomberg 2012). The RRI-Practice project reviewed RRI- related work in 23 research performing and research funding organisations located in 12 different countries. The organisations vary on parameters such as size, teaching obligations, and impact in the national funding landscape. Additionally, some are policy organisations, closely tied to the political system in the countries, while others operate at arm’s length to political management or are formally independent entities. (See Tables 2.2 and 2.3 in Chap. 2 below for details of organisations researched).

Through interviews, focus group interviews, workshops of various formats, and document reviews, the project traced organisational practices that can be related to the five RRI policy keys (also called thematic elements) and four RRI process dimensions, central to current theorised understandings of what constitutes RRI- Practices (e.g. Owen et al. 2012; Stilgoe et al. 2013). A common denominator for the keys and dimensions is ‘RRI aspects.’ It is only in a subset of the surveyed organisations that the notion of RRI is widely known; in some organisations only a smaller portion of the employees are familiar with the RRI concept; and in most cases, this project constituted the first contact for the notion of RRI. This does not leave out the possibility of organisational practices that are commonly parallel or what Sally Randles and colleagues have termed ‘de facto rri’ (e.g. Randles 2016; Randles et al. 2016). In collaboration with each organisation, the national project research teams developed RRI Outlooks outlining RRI objectives, targets and indicators for each organisation. The result of this work was 12 publicly available country reports, comprising an analysis of the national context for the uptake of RRI, the status of RRI-related practices in each organisation, action plans for developing and sustaining RRI practices, and suggestions for indicators for individual organisations.

It is the data from these 12 national reports that inform this book, and which are summarised in Table 2.4 in Chap. 2.4

In addition, the project developed a report comparing implementations across case studies at the level of specific RRI keys and process dimensions of RRI (Hennen et al. 2018); a booklet with recommendations to national policymakers (Owen et al. 2019); as well as a handbook on how to develop RRI in organisations, showcasing 11 good practices, and the provision of practical advice to managers, change agents, and researchers with an interest in RRI (Wittrock and Forsberg 2019). They draw on the latter material selectively in their analysis.

Read more in the book here.

 

Event: Celebrating openness

By SalM on October 20, 2020 in News

Why is transparency important for the research process? What are the advantages and challenges of opening up research? How are researchers at the University of Groningen doing this in practical terms? Can a modified lottery be a just method to assign research funding or prizes?

Join this online event on 22 October to celebrate the many ways in which academics make their research more accessible, transparent, or reproducible.


Detailed programme


Keynote: What is transparency for? (Simine Vazire)

Science is often said to be self-correcting, but we rarely hear about what makes science self-correcting. Some mechanisms that are meant to provide quality control, such as peer-reviewed journals, or textbooks, have recently been found not to provide much of a safeguard against invalid claims. Instead, I argue that we should look for visible signs of a scientific community’s commitment to self-correction, rather than taking it for granted that all of science is self-correcting. The first pillar of commitment to self-correction is transparency. Without transparency, detecting and correcting errors is almost impossible. However, transparency is not sufficient for self-correction. The second pillar of a commitment to self-correction is the critical appraisal. Transparently-reported research outputs are the beginning of a process, not the endpoint. Researchers should be encouraged to take advantage of each other’s transparency to interrogate and scrutinize one another’s claims, and rewarded for this type of work. The self-correcting mechanisms in science can be found in a community’s commitment to transparency and critical appraisal.

Simine Vazire is a Professor at the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Her research examines individual and institutional practices and norms in science, and the degree to which these norms encourage or impede self-correction and credibility. She is Editor in Chief of Collabra: Psychology and has served as an editor at several other journals. She is a board member of the Public Library Of Science and the Berkeley Institute for Transparency in the Social Sciences, was a member of the US National Academy of Science study committee on replicability and reproducibility, and co-founded the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science (SIPS).

Keynote: Benefits and challenges of adopting open research practices (Ineke Wessel)

The replication crisis in psychology and the subsequent rise in the use of open research practices requires a radical change in perspective for more senior researchers. “Old-school” researchers who are looking to implement change may feel challenged by old habits at an individual (How to recognize questionable research practices?) as well as a more systemic level (e.g. bias in the academic publishing process, reward structures at their institutions). In the present contribution, I will talk about some of those challenges and possible ways of dealing with them. As an illustration, I will present a recent project that involved a) writing up decades-old null-results rather than leaving them in my file drawer; b) exploring multiple ways of data analysis rather than deciding on one (arbitrary) best analysis (i.e., multiverse analysis) and c) collaborating with early career researchers with up-to-date technical knowledge (e.g., R., RMarkdown).

Ineke Wessel is an associate professor of experimental psychopathology at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. She has studied (emotional) autobiographical memory since the 1990s. Her research interests include the involvement of memory in the origins and maintenance of psychopathology and the malleability of emotional memories themselves, including false / recovered memories. Relatively recently, she became fascinated with the question of what the current replication crisis in psychology may mean for clinical psychology. Having received “old school” academic training, she tries to switch to Open Science practices as much as possible. She wrote a series of blogposts about her experiences.

Lightning talks: Inspiring open research case studies from UG researchers

Be inspired by peers! Three UG researchers will present their case studies as lightning talks (5-10 minutes). They will share their experience with open research, demonstrate how they – successfully or unsuccessfully – apply open research practices and explore the challenges and difficulties of making open choices.

Prior to the event, the jury randomly drew these three case studies among all eligible submissions of the award. The three submissions are invited to present their research as lightning talks during the event and will each receive 500 euros.

Modified lotteries in research funding

The award is meant to highlight and acknowledge endeavours to apply open research practices and not to rank submissions in a competitive manner. A modified lottery system is therefore used as it fits well with the ‘open and fair’ principles of the award. It is also expected to reduce bias, to increase diversity and to contribute to alleviating the competitive climate in academia.

Can modified lotteries really be a useful and just way to assign research funding or prizes? The panel discussion ‘Luck of the draw’ features Pauline Kleingeld (UG, Faculty of Philosophy), Marie-José van Tol (UMCG) and Marco Bieri (Swiss National Science Foundation, SNSF). The SNSF has experimented with the random selection process for research funding since 2019.


Programme


13.00 – Welcome

13.10 – Keynote: What is transparency for?
Prof. Simine Vazire, University of Melbourne

13.50 – Online coffee break

14.00 – Keynote: Benefits and challenges of adopting open research practices
Dr Ineke Wessel, University of Groningen

14.40 – Online coffee break

14.50 – Lightning talks – Inspiring open research case studies from 3 UG researchers

15.45 – Panel discussion: Luck of the draw. Using modified lotteries in research funding

16.30 – Closing and online drinks

17.00 – End

More information: rug.nl/openresearchaward

Date:
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Time:
1:00pm – 5:00pm
Time Zone:
Central European Time
Location:
Online

RRING Public Forum Events

By SalM on October 19, 2020 in News

RRING public forum events are a vital part of our work in bringing various stakeholders together around a topic of mutual interest and for a common purpose.  They form part of our ongoing work in taking responsible, research and innovation conversations outside of academia and into the public domain, with an objective of mutual collaboration to tackle societal challenges specifically the UN Sustainable Development goals.  They are based on three principles:

  • Co-creation (ie. What can we as a group of stakeholders do to address the topic)?
  • Social innovation (How can we meet societal needs in an innovative way?)
  • Social entrepreneurship (What entrepreneurial solutions can society produce?)

Better science requires mutual learning between scientists and the public in order to understand a breadth of perspectives, frames and global views. It also provides an opportunity for the dissemination of science and research. Members of the RRING network should be looking for opportunities to host or get involved with public forum type events in order to truly achieve the RRING objectives.


When and How


Any member of the RRING community can hold a public forum event with the support of the RRING project team.  They are held on an ad-hoc basis either virtually or as in-person events depending on the format that is most suitable.  They may form part of larger events or a series of events.  The flexibility of these events is extremely important in order that the format is best for engaging the interested wider public.

They will generally be based around a topic of specific scientific interest on a local, global or national basis, often with an element of political or conceptual controversy usually underpinned by the SDGs.  Content must be accessible for all stakeholders not just those representing academia. Formats may include expert speakers, round table discussions and open question and answer sessions.


Example events


Future Events


Future public forums are planned in Spain, Japan, India and the UK.  RRING members and trial countries are urged to consider how they are engaging with the wider public and what topics are of relevance and importance to their national agenda. They should look at ways in which they can connect academia to wider society and consider public forums as a way of doing this.  The RRING project team can support in modes of engagement and planning and preparing for these events.

For more information please contact us via email: emma.day@vitae.ac.uk

Showcasing successful women’s STEM achievements, a social vaccine against gender stereotypes among young girls

By SalM on October 19, 2020 in News

The director of the UOC’s GenTIC research group, Milagros Sáinz, is collaborating on a study that evaluates the effectiveness of female role models in promoting scientific and technological vocations for girls

According to data published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), female participation in the labour market has risen over the past 35 years, with women now accounting for 52.5% of the total workforce. Despite this increase, gender equality in the workplace is still far from a reality. In traditionally male-dominated fields, such as those known by the STEM acronym (for science, technology, engineering and mathematics), only two of every ten positions are occupied by women.

This underrepresentation distances women from accessing leadership positions and results in the exclusion of the feminine perspective in creating and developing solutions in the digital transformation era. It also leads to an absence of role models that showcase the contributions made by women in these areas, which may in turn cause children and teens to mistakenly think that the talent and skills required to pursue STEM careers are correlated with masculinity.

As such, in a study published in the open access journal Frontiers in Psychology, a team of researchers led by the director of the GenTIC (Gender and ICT) research group at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), Milagros Sáinz, have demonstrated the impact of female role models in influencing girls’ preferences for studying STEM subjects.

The researchers evaluated the effectiveness of an intervention implemented in sixteen schools in various cities around Spain, involving the participation of 304 girls aged between twelve and sixteen. The intervention formed part of a programme developed by the Inspiring Girls Foundation to promote scientific and technological vocations for girls. This programme involves recruiting successful women working in STEM fields as volunteers to go into schools to talk to the children about their careers. The hope is that this contact with female role models will serve to prevent the perpetuation of gender stereotyping in relation to STEM subject competency and encourage girls to opt to study on university programmes in these fields.

“From a very early age, around the age of six, girls are conditioned to think that they are not as good at maths as their male counterparts. This programme, however, focuses on girls in secondary education aged between twelve and seventeen, as this represents a crucial time during which they have to make choices about which academic path to follow,” explained Sáinz.


Dismantling gender stereotypes


The youngsters who participated in the study, which examined their perceptions in relation to mathematics, were asked to complete a questionnaire both before and after the talks in which they needed to rate the validity of statements, such as ‘Maths is more important for boys’, ‘Boys are better at maths than girls,’ and ‘I am talented at maths.’

The aim was to analyse the extent to which the intervention – attending the talks given by successful women working in STEM – changed the girls’ perceptions about whether women are able to succeed in these fields and whether it increased the likelihood of them choosing to go on to study a STEM subject at university.

“We observed how effective the sessions were in neutralizing the negative effects of gender stereotypes, which advocate that girls have less of an affinity for mathematics, in relation to their predisposition to choose to study STEM subjects,” stressed Sáinz.

Thus, according to the results of the study, coming into contact with successful women working in traditionally male-dominated STEM fields helps promote an interest in these areas of study for girls. “The sessions with the role models also showed the girls a reality that was contrary to established gender stereotypes regarding the kind of people that supposedly work in these sectors and the requirements needed to enter them,” the UOC researcher pointed out.


The role played by families and teachers


Sáinz has also recently published another study, again in the Frontiers in Psychology journal, on how the assessments made, often unconsciously, by parents and teachers with regard to the academic skills of adolescents help to reinforce gender stereotypes and roles. Surprisingly, the researchers identified a discrepancy between the actual academic performance of students and the perception of their abilities by parents and teachers.

In fact, the study, which involved eight focus groups made up of 39 parents and 34 secondary school teachers, showed that many adults are unaware that girls achieve higher grades across all subjects, including those traditionally associated with masculine roles, such as maths, technology, physics and chemistry.

Many of them also continue to attribute academic performance to biological or genetic differences, without reflecting on the implications of this or on how these misconceptions contribute to replicating gender biases and perpetuating a socialization process based on emphasizing the differences between men and women.

“Although some parents and teachers are aware of this, they don’t possess the strategies to combat these gender biases,” said Sáinz. As such, the researcher suggests that efforts still need to be made to seek strategies to effectively combat these biases through training and intervention programmes aimed at families and the educational community.

This research at the UOC promotes Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4: Quality Education, 5: Gender Equality and 10: Reduce Inequalities.


Reference articles


González-Pérez, S.; Mateos de Cabo, R.; Sáinz M (2020). “Girls in STEM: Is It a Female Role-Model Thing?”. In: Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02204

Sáinz, M.; Fàbregues, S.; Solé, J. (2020). “Parent and Teacher Depictions of Gender Gaps in Secondary Student Appraisals of Their Academic Competences”. In: Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.573752

This last study received funding from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (FEM-2014-55096-R) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

 

    

 


UOC R&I


The UOC’s research and innovation (R&I) contribute to solving the challenges facing the global societies of the 21st century by studying ICTs’ interactions with human activity, with a specific focus on e-learning and e-health. Over 400 researchers and 50 research groups work among the University’s seven faculties and three research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), the eLearn Center (eLC) and the eHealth Center (eHC).

The United Nations 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals and open knowledge provide strategic pillars on which the UOC’s teaching, research and innovation are built. More information: research.uoc.edu.

S4D4C experts investigate a range of science diplomacy cases

By SalM on October 19, 2020 in News

As a part of the S4D4C project (“Using Science for/in Diplomacy for addressing global Challenges”), S4D4C experts investigate a range of science diplomacy cases in their activity called “European Science Diplomacy addressing global challenges”. A mixed team of researchers has developed nine case studies, which each provide an overview of the case and its background, context and governance arrangements, further providing a description of the stakeholder landscape and a discussion of governance practices. They look at the EU level as well as selected examples from the national level that varies case to case. The case studies examine the use of knowledge, the relations between governance levels and provide a discussion on how the case improves or changes our understanding of science diplomacy. They were edited by Mitchell Young (Charles University), Tim Flink (DZHW) and Elke Dall (ZSI).

These case studies are at the empirical heart of S4D4C, informing many other parts of the project such as the work on a governance framework and training materials for science diplomats. The next step in the project is a transversal analysis of the case data, for which we will identify and explicate a range of issues that matter for science diplomacy based on the work in the volume presented here.

 


Cases with a foreign policy focus


1. Science diplomacy and infectious diseases: Between national and European narratives
Case authors:
Ivo Šlosarčík/ Charles University,
Nadia Meyer
/ German Aerospace Center,
Jennifer Chubb
/ University of Sheffield

The Zika epidemics in 2015 and 2016 provided a platform for further elaboration of science diplomacy used by the EU institutions and EU Member States. The response was characterised by an interplay between the political, diplomatic, medical and scientific communities performed within national, European, and global frameworks.

output brief: infectious diseases

case report: infectious diseases

 

 

 


2. Water diplomacy and its future in the national, regional and European environments
Case authors:
Eliška Tomalová
/ Charles University,
Eliška Černovská/ Charles University,
Ewert Aukes
/ University of Twente,
Jasper Montana
/ University of Sheffield
Elke Dall
/ Centre for Social Innovation

Water diplomacy represents a challenge for bringing the worlds of diplomacy and science closer together; it has the potential to shape the diplomatic environment as well as to create new interfaces, techniques, and team strategies in science and foreign policy

output brief: water diplomacy

case report: water diplomacy

 

 

 


3. Cyber security: Mapping the role of science diplomacy in the cyber field
Case authors:
Lucie Kadlecová
/ Charles University,
Nadia Meyer
/ German Aerospace Centre,
Rafaël Cos/ University of Lille,
Pauline Ravinet
/ University of Lille

Cyber security has entered the agenda of the international community and has quickly been transformed from a purely technical topic to an issue of diplomacy. The term ‘cyber diplomacy’ has come into global use, and countries are keenly deploying their own ‘cyber diplomats’.

output brief: cyber security

case report: cyber security

 

 

 


Science driven cases


4. The science and diplomacy of global challenges: Food security in EU-Africa relations
Case authors:
Rafaël Cos/ University of Lille,
Pauline Ravinet/ University of Lille,
Mitchell Young/ Charles University

Over the past 20 years, a set of institutions, concerns, competencies, partnerships, and programmes have shaped the features of EU-African Union food security diplomacy. To what extent has science played a role in deploying this food security diplomacy?

 

output brief: food security in EU Africa relations

case report: food security in EU Africa relations

 

 

 


5. International dimensions of the EU’s FET Flagships: Large-scale strategic research investments as a site of de-facto science diplomacy
Case Author:
Alexander Degelsegger-Márquez
/ formerly Centre for Social Innovation,
now S4D4C Advisory Board member,

A study of Future and Emerging Technology (FET) Flagship initiatives as potential mechanisms of EU science diplomacy reveals that their governance models and design as research policy instruments have sectoral foreign policy dynamics.

 

output brief: FET flagships

case report: FET flagships

 

 

 


6. Open Science Diplomacy
Case author:
Katja Mayer/ Centre for Social Innovation

Following the call for ‘open science, open innovation, and open to the world’ by the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas in 2015, we look for applications and implications of open science in science diplomacy.

 

output brief: Open Science Diplomacy

case report: Open Science Diplomacy

 

 

 

 


European instrument driven cases


7. SESAME – An international research infrastructure in the Middle East
Case author:
Charlotte Rungius
/ German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies

SESAME is a synchrotron light source user’s facility in the Middle East. The international research centre was initiated with the explicit intention to foster scientific cooperation among a number of countries that share a history of conflict.

 

 

output brief: SESAME

case report: SESAME

 

 

 


8. Joint international research programming as a case of science diplomacy
Case author:
Tim Flink
/ German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies

Joint international research programming is a common but underrated case of science diplomacy. It engages funding agencies as intermediary organisations that are compelled to operate at the intersection of science policy and international affairs.

 

 

output brief: joint programming

case report: joint programming

 

 

 


9. Science advice in the European Union: Crafting collective understanding of transnational issues
Case author:
Jasper Montana/ University of Sheffield

In thinking about science diplomacy, it is important to not only acknowledge the formal structures for science diplomacy, but also to consider the ways in which internal capacities for science diplomacy might already be buildt into diplomatic systems.

 

 

 

output brief: science advice

case report: science advice 

 

 


An aggregated data package for the case studies is available HERE.

Here you can access the volume of compiled results of the nine case studies “Science Diplomacy in the Making: Case-based insights from the S4D4C project“.

A suite of tools for countries to better perform their four-yearly monitoring and reporting requirements for the Recommendation on Science

By SalM on October 16, 2020 in News

With the help of UNESCO and the International Consortium of Research Staff Associations – ICoRSA, RRING project is developing a suite of tools for countries to better perform their four-yearly monitoring and reporting requirements for the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers. Lithuania is among the first to fully test tools and indicators during the trial period, followed by the US and South Africa.

UNESCO and the Research Council of Lithuania on June 29, 2020, organized the first online meeting of a new consultation group based in Lithuania, which brought together research and innovation systems experts. The experts began to examine the self-assessment requirements under the UNESCO Recommendation for Science and Scientific Researchers.

This meeting was held online via the MS Teams platform, on June 29 from 3 to 5 p.m and it was the first out of three meetings planned in the following period. These activities are implemented by the Horizon 2020 RRING (Responsible Research and Innovation Networked Globally) Project, and bring together an impressive list of stakeholders in Lithuanian science.


Recommendations for science and scientific researchers


In 2017, UNESCO issued the revised Recommendation for Science and Scientific Researchers covering all principles of Responsible Research: ethics, open science, STEM education, public engagement, and gender equality.

„Science is part of society, and while we want it to be excellent, we also want to ensure that it is an activity that does not detract from but contributes to making our societies more humane, just and inclusive. Once in every few years, it is worth the effort to check if we are doing everything needed to make the ecosystem of science a healthy one that attracts young people and keeps the best talent, and is adapting to changes like digitalization and globalization. Even great universities should not do this alone, The stakeholders of research and innovation may want to develop a conversation on these systemic issues“, said April Tash from UNESCO, who served as the lead manager for the four years of negotiations which led to the revised treaty.

195 countries signed up the Treaty, among them also Lithuania – making this set of standards truly global. The treaty obliges each state to evaluate its performance related to these standards every 4 years.

„The first evaluation process is being launched in July 2020, and the completed evaluation reports must be completed in 10 months by 31 March 2021. UNESCO is about to publish a set of guidelines, but everyone agrees that is can be hard to select the right indicators and intelligence to understand how a country is doing, and some things like scientific freedom or innovative capacity have many dimensions and can be hard to measure“, said Tash. 


Structures and support measures for EU member countries developed by RRING and UNESCO


UNESCO is collaborating with the RRING project on developing structures and support measures for EU member countries that, once started, should be in place for the next round and future rounds of the 4-yearly evaluations in 2024 and 2028. In the meanwhile, they may also help the government understand better what is working and not working in terms of its efforts to create a favorable environment.

UNESCO and RRING began a country pilot case study. The two countries selected for the pilot are Lithuania and Ireland. The immediate goal of the pilot will be to assist the countries in preparing a self-assessment. But this may also set the bar for other countries to set up participative processes that are similar, so as to do their evaluations following the Lithuanian example.


Included experts from multiple sectors


The advisory group (Consultation Group) consists of experts from the four very different stakeholder groups who share an interest in upholding strong, healthy, and attractive Lithuanian research and innovation. They represent the public sector, Industry, Academia, and to lesser degree citizens and civil society.  Included are some international organizations; organizations representing science and technology educators; employers generally; learned societies, research performing organizations; associations of science writers; women in science associations; youth and student organizations.

During their meetings, the members of the group participated in the assessment exercise of how Lithuania performs against the standards related to responsible research and innovation.


RRING Project


For almost two decades, European initiatives have encouraged and promoted responsible research and innovation in academia, research, and research performing organizations (RPOs). Although there is a wealth of projects and consortium in this sector, a certain methodology is needed to use the acquired knowledge to drive and achieve great progress. That is why the RRING project seeks to connect researchers and research organizations into a strong community or network of professionals and has chosen a vision that reaches also to other parts of the globe, carrying these values forward.

“A strong network enables better mutual learning and cooperation in responsible research and innovation. We are in the process of creating a global network named the RRING community to develop and foster open access to a global knowledge base on Responsible Research and Innovation”, said Gordon Dalton, Project Coordinator.

Thus, RRING in this case will not provide a strategy that should be implemented from top to bottom. “Instead, we want to use a bottom-up approach, learning from best practices in Responsible Research and Innovation globally and from the professionals worldwide”, emphasizes Dalton.

This powerful network of science professionals is the driving vision of this new RRING community, established to develop a more connected world for responsible research and innovation.