This statement sets out the University of York’s commitment to the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). It encourages our staff, students, and partners to explore and engage with responsible research and innovation to maximise socially desirable impacts.
Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) acknowledges the potential dilemmas raised by research and innovation carried out within any discipline and through multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary work. Research produces many kinds of benefits, however there is an associated risk that it could generate unintended consequences that are not in the wider social interest.
RRI can touch upon issues of co-production; equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI); due diligence; trusted research; ethics; risk management; open research; public engagement; and evaluation. However, RRI is more than the sum of these parts, it is an ongoing process of reflection, dialogue, and action throughout the entire course of research and innovation activities where socially undesirable impacts could become apparent at any point.
RRI provides a framework that encourages researchers and diverse stakeholders to explore these potential issues in an open, inclusive, respectful, and timely manner, increasing the likelihood that research and innovation outcomes are socially desirable.
It is generally recognised that some research areas already actively implement RRI, while others are increasing their understanding of it. There may be instances where wide-ranging RRI engagement activities are necessary and others where it is not. This variable situation requires a flexible approach, and the Institution encourages all researchers to reflect on their work within the social context and have an appreciation of the underlying principles of RRI such that they can implement it when required. RRI is a collective responsibility not falling on any one group within the research and innovation ecosystem.
The University of York exists for public good, applying knowledge to the ‘amelioration of human life and conditions’*. Our ambitions extend beyond economic impact alone, our expertise and its impacts help create the conditions needed for all parts of our society to flourish. The University of York thrives on collaboration. Great ideas are imagined, challenged, revised, and applied when people interact. It is within this context that we state our commitment to responsible research and innovation.
RRI is interactive, iterative, and involves high levels of transparency with regular reflection on processes and goals. Recognising the range of engagement with RRI in our research and innovation community (a situation not restricted to York nor the UK), we aim to increase our community’s understanding of RRI. We encourage community members to regularly reflect on the motivations (personal and collective) for conducting specific research against the backdrop of the wider ethical and societal context within which that research is located. The aim is to embed RRI at the core of all research, as an integral part of academic citizenship.
By sharing RRI best practices across our institution and stakeholders, we will develop our support structures to ensure that researchers can design their research (from setting research agendas to assessing impact) to fully incorporate the principles of RRI. Where wider RRI activity on a topic is appropriate we will build on York’s tradition of creative engagement across boundaries to realise diverse, inclusive and meaningful participation of research partners, beneficiaries and stakeholders to explore, discuss and influence the direction of the research and innovation for the public good. These commitments to RRI intersect with commitments in aligned areas of EDI; decolonising our research; justice and equality; sustainability and wellbeing, multiplying the benefits of RRI.
* York Academic Trust (1956-1963) predecessor to the University of York