Res Publica

Res Publica

Responsibility, practice and the public good across Digital Life.

Highlights 2020

The project's contribution to the Centre for Digital Life Norway annual report 2020.

The Res Publica research pursues two work streams.

The first focuses on a social study of DLN’s distribution of responsibility and institutional set up. During 2020, our research within this stream focused on ethnographic research on open data and digital infrastructures. We also finalised two publications on valuation practices in biotechnology projects.

The second work stream investigates the distribution of benefits from public investments in technosciences. During 2020, we analysed two dimensions of the envisioned new bioeconomy: the policy debate on resource rent taxation within aquaculture, and the expectations vested in bioprospecting.

One highlight of 2020 has been a workshop we organised on bioprospecting. The objective of the workshop was to discuss the social challenges of the digital turn of bioprospecting: How to regulate digital genome sequencing in alignment with the Nagoya protocol? The workshop resulted in a policy brief. Our second workshop on the topic of antibiotic development was unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. Its intention was to collect experiences of different actors involved in research and innovation in the field of antibiotic development. The results would have provided valuable insight for research politics. For us, the added value of being a part of a transdisciplinary centre is the opportunity we have to interact with scientists and policymakers at joint events. We appreciate the openness of our centre colleagues and, the access that they provide to their laboratories and their willingness to meet with us.

News and event

Grand award to Heidrun Åm

Bioprospecting workshop 2 March, Oslo: Bioprospecting: Access, Regulation and Digital Data.

Scientific publications 2020: 2

Project overview

Project lead: Heidrun Åm
Institution: NTNU
Partners: UiB, UiO, Maastricht University, University of Edinburgh School of Social and Political Science, University of Vienna, University of Amsterdam
Duration: Start-up 2017

Research group

This project represents a strengthening and extension of the research and work to establish a novel platform for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the Center for Digital Life Norway (DLN). DNL was established in February 2016 and aims at creating a strong and coherent national platform for transdisciplinary and digitalized biotechnology. All activities within DLN are supposed to be underpinned by the principle and practice of RRI.

This research project aims to improve RRI activities across DLN and its research projects by addressing RRI in terms of res publica (i.e. common good and public concerns) and by situating RRI also in the socio-political-economic context pertinent to DLN. With a departure point in DLN, we investigate how RRI can be integrated in three domains of practices: 1) scientific practices, mediation and evaluation, 2) innovation practices, and 3) policy and institutional practices.

Based on previous research and on experiences from working with DLN, we know that translating RRI into appropriate practices is more demanding than anticipated in mainstream RRI scholarship and policies. In action research, we will together with DLN's scientists elaborate how RRI can be shaped and implemented under the conditions they work in and look for alternative designs for distributing collective responsibilities.

The project will be a significant contribution to international Research on RRI in three ways. First, it takes RRI theory further by introducing practice theory as an approach to study the formation of public concerns as well as to identify the kind of situations where RRI resonates with ongoing research practices. This may make RRI easier to implement. Second, the use of a practice perspective extends the scope of potential RRI interventions to become multi-sited, going beyond academia. Third, our research will introduce action research methods to engage DLN and related actors in a learning process.

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