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The goal of this project is to build research infrastructure, a virtual institute for responsible innovation. The meaning of "responsible innovation" is evolving, but roughly the term refers to a process of engagement in which stakeholders and innovators engage in mutually responsive dialogues that serve to bring about socially acceptable innovation processes and products. The proposed institute will focus specifically on nanotechnology and other emerging technologies such as synthetic biology and geo-engineering.

The virtual institute will facilitate collaborative work on responsible innovation involving members of a coalescing community of scholars and practitioners in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Brazil and Canada. Despite divides in geography and political culture, the institute will facilitate research, training, and outreach on responsible innovation and, in doing so, it will contribute to the governance of emerging technologies under conditions dominated by high uncertainty, high stakes, and challenging societal questions that accompany novelty.

The virtual institute project will accelerate work on responsible innovation, which will in turn serve to enhance connections between the considered values of the wider community and the processes of policy decisions and science and technology development. It will also contribute to the training of students and post-docs in the international, collaborative and comparative aspects of responsible innovation, and it will develop a dynamic web site and a virtual graduate course on responsible innovation to be taught across the Institute and beyond. Partnerships with public and private institutions such as US NAE, IEEE, and the Bassetti Foundation will result in wide dissemination of results to and substantive interactions with relevant stakeholder communities.

This is designated as a Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) award and is co-funded by NSF's Office of International and Integrative Activities.


National Science Foundation, Division of Social and Economic Sciences


September 2013 — August 2016