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“Responsible research” has now been imposed on scientific activity as a generator of new trajectories of “progress” in order to achieve the fundamental objectives of sustainable development (environment, health, education, employment, etc.). If at first, the responsibility of research and researchers was focused on the transfer and valorization of knowledge in the competitive economy, social, societal and environmental issues have given a new perspective to the design, conduct and valorization of scientific research programs. The authors of this issue of Technology and Innovation discuss this trend towards responsibility and the implementation of sustainable development strategies by research institutions with reference to concrete experiences in France.
Our students are looking for meaning, want to be useful... in other words, to evolve in a responsible University! But what exactly is it? This article is structured around two main points. First, it returns to the question of Why a responsible University. Higher education institutions are encouraged to review their training, tools and pedagogical discourses to meet the challenges brought about by the ecological transition and the digital transformation. The challenge for the University is then to develop the employability of students who are increasingly engaged in society, which implies a tolerance for imperfection and a new relationship with time. In a second step, it develops the How a responsible University around the idea of a necessary commitment of actors in favor of sustainable innovations inspired by DD&RS, both internally and in society. The École des Mines de Saint-Étienne is a pioneer on these issues with the creation, in 1991, of a training and research center dedicated to these subjects and the establishment, in 2005, of a delegation for sustainable development and CSR. The result of this proactive policy carried out for 30 years on a daily basis with students, alumni, staff and partners on the two campuses of the École des Mines de Saint-Étienne is reflected in particular by its THE (Times Higher Education IMPACT) ranking, which references the world’s higher education institutions according to the 17 UN SDGs.
The persistence of underdevelopment has led African universities to question and rethink their social responsibility since the global economic crisis of the 1990s. This is the case in Cameroon, where the University Social Responsibility Index (USR) is still weak in accordance with the observation made at the University of Douala (IRSO = 0.4), the largest in the country. Some innovations of the USR are nevertheless observed. The responsible research experienced in the Project for the Elaboration of a Food Security Strategy in the City of Douala (SYSTALDO Project) is one of these innovations of the University/Municipality partnership. The relevance of the Quintuple Helix Innovation System Index (IQHIS = 0.64) in the implementation of this project demonstrates a significant improvement in the contribution of the University of Douala in the local development. The vulgarization of this five-fold innovation, however, suffers from the absence of an incentive and coercive device. A National Responsible Research Policy (NRRP) would better promote this innovation by local authorities in the municipalization of national development.
Changes in the societal perceptions and expectations against agricultural research, and the magnitude of the challenges facing the developing world are forcing research organizations, such as Cirad, to evolve. Such evolutions are of institutional, epistemic, axiological, scientific and operational nature. Key elements are considered: the diversity of societal actors and stakeholders, the double North/South accountability, and Cirad’s deliverables. Cirad is setting up several founding factors for change: 1/ the challenges’ staggering magnitude, which questions the capacity of research to respond promptly and properly, towards innovation processes, 2/ Cirad’s mission on applied, society-relevant, solution-oriented research, 3/ its values, with 3 pillars for action: exemplarity, openness, commitment towards sustainable development. This last pillar is specifically presented as it is core to most activities at Cirad, and marked with radical evolutions, notably on public policy support, participatory research, contribution to societal impacts and their assessment.
The contradictions of our development model lead us to imagine new forms of prosperity. The research world associated with higher education is a relevant field for thinking about transformations towards more sustainable lifestyles. Thus, scientific activity contributes to innovations through a wide variety of interaction models with society. We are interested in forms of direct cooperation between research actors, and populations and their territories. The Participatory Action Research approach is an interesting path that we analyze through six examples of support within the Lille University Science Shop carried out between 2016 and 2019. We extend the reflection by comparing a posteriori the topics treated inside the projects with those commonly stated in the field of responsible research and innovation.
The aim of this paper is a better understanding of the evolution path of citizen sciences. I enlist the concept of the strategic action field, a concept rooted in the theories of collective action [FLI 12]. The first part of the article is a socio-historical analysis of activities defined as citizen sciences. In the second part, I draw on the agency of the strategic action field’s incumbents, namely the public authorities and associations, to analyze its evolution path. Associations, and in particular those labeled « éducation populaire », are historically linked to the state and depend on public funding. They are the most widespread administrative form of civil society organizations. They have gradually obscured their research activities while Fligstein and McAdam posit that the evolution path of a strategic action field depends on the actors’ capacity to construct a common identity and objectives. Other associations are pleading for the acknowledgment of their role in research. The transformation of public policies will be decisive for the development of the field.
Current concerns about sustainable development, as well as the evolution of technologies that induce negative impacts on society, have given rise to new issues. The social "responsibility" of Science is being questioned and the mechanisms of its governance are being posed and articulated through the analytical field of responsible innovation. In this article, we present an analytical framework for understanding the contours of this notion. This framework has been developed by articulating a set of approaches that define the forms that responsible innovation can take, the dimensions that characterize its processes, the actors associated with it and the results generated by its processes. A confrontation with the case of the scientific association of the Research Network on Innovation provides us with initial observations on the practical implementation of responsible innovation. A reflection on the limits of this analytical approach leads us to consider new paths of evolution.
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