Res Publica

Res Publica

Responsibility, practice and the public good across Digital Life.

Highlights 2021

During 2021, our research focused on questions of digital data, the commons, and democratic governance. We did research on health data and the public good, the politics of bioprospecting, and governance of digital contact tracing apps. As the project is in its concluding year, a highlight was to see that our work resulted in many publications.

We would like to highlight two main outputs: the book “Questing Excellence in Academia” published by Routledge, and two articles in a special issue on digital sovereignty in Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift. Transdisciplinarity means to contribute to and to draw on experience-based knowledge, and to involve relevant societal actors.

In the last year, Res Publica participated in the network project’s seminar series at the Literature house in Trondheim. The aim of these public debates was to engage actors from politics and industry, as well as a wider public, in topics that are relevant from an RRI-perspective. Res Publica also substantially contributed to improving DLN’s transdisciplinarity efforts presented in the White Paper on Transdisciplinarity.

Scientific publications 2021: 6

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


  • The imagined scientist of science governance
    Heidrun Åm, Gisle Solbu, Knut H Sørensen
    The article examines how social responsibility is implemented and shows that researchers' perceptions of their own work, and policymakers' perceptions of university employees' work, do not necessarily overlap.

All results in the CRIStin-database

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.

Latest news from the project