Dismantling boundaries between STS and Design: A workshop on RRI and assessment practices in co-creation landscapes



Dismantling boundaries between STS and Design:  A workshop on RRI and assessment practices in co-creation landscapes


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The development and introduction of new technologies within our turbulent society is crucial in solving and shaping challenges in equal measure. In this regard, the concept of co-creation has been recently introduced in diverse fields (e.g. Science, Technology and Innovation policymaking, social innovation, urban planning) as a way to engage lay people and stakeholders in the ideation, implementation and assessment of innovative solutions to societal challenges, by embracing a sensitiveness towards their (ethical) acceptability, sustainability and societal desirability. Thus, co-creation can be framed as a promising value-building approach, due to its relevance in shaping and sharing economic, social, experiential and ethical values among concerned groups and communities. As pointed out by the European Commission and scholars engaged in Science & Technology Studies and design, under this perspective co-creation has the potentiality to become a novel constitutive driver for performing Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), with the overall expectation of increasing the societal value of science and technology, not only by striving to manage unwanted consequences.

Under the aegis of co-creation, innovative research settings and infrastructures (such as DIY spaces, living labs, fab labs and grassroots organizations) are flourishing across the world in conducting many projects and initiatives that aim at experimenting co-creation practices and tools in diverse fields and settings. If in principle these experiences seem to act in accordance with RRI frameworks, gaps and inconsistencies in current assessment practices of this kind of projects and initiatives are increasingly recognized, in terms of evaluation of both short term valuable outcomes (acquisition of knowledge and skills, transformation of value-building processes, empowerment of people, etc.) and medium/long term desirable impacts (development of ethical sensitive cultures, change of decision-making processes, embedment of sustainability principles, etc.).

Given that, this workshop aims at offering the opportunity to open up a reflection on issues related to the assessment of emerging co-creation initiatives conducted within an RRI framework, in order to outline a way oriented to capture how and to which extent they can promote innovation processes that are more flexible, resilient and respondent to societal needs. This is not only a relevant research question, but also as a strategic issue in view of a more transversal role of RRI in the next EU research and funding programmes.

In so doing the workshop, by offering the opportunity to STS and design international scholars to interact with practitioners engaged in co-creation initiatives, will be an opportunity to reflect on emerging practices of assessing the translation of RRI practice within co-creation initiatives.

Thus, special attention will be paid on the reliability and benefits arising by the development of novel methodological perspectives implying the integrative implementation of assessment approaches based on quantitative techniques with foresight and participatory scenario planning, as a promising way for assessing real-time integration of RRI frameworks, and then thicken into the future, exploring different desirable directions how the current dynamics may further unfold.

In this perspective, the workshop has the main purpose to generate novel insights on methodologies and practices of assessment of the expected benefits and social and ethical relevance of RRI frameworks at the project level, providing an understanding of the value of short term outputs and medium/long term impacts of co-creation projects.


The workshop will encompass a one-day interactive activities with the aim to offer the opportunity to STS and design international scholars (PhD students, early and senior career researchers) to interact with practitioners engaged in reflecting and implementing RRI within co-creation initiatives.

The workshop will unfold on two interrelated sessions:

1.The first session (10:30-13:00) will include four introductory lectures by international scholars, which will tackle the multifaceted processes that enable the emergence and assessment of RRI frameworks within co-creation initiatives.

Confirmed Speakers:

Simone Arnaldi Professor of Sociology, University of Trieste
Petra Ahrweiler Professor of Sociology of Technology & Innovation, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Alessandro Deserti Professor of Design, Politecnico di Milano
Tsjalling Swierstra Professor of Philosophy, Maastricht University

2. In the second session (14:30-16:00) practitioners and scholars will be engaged in a participatory roundtable to critically discuss on the challenges, needs and goals of current co-creation initiatives in ways that are consistent with RRI frameworks, with special attention to the public engagement dimension.

Confirmed Speakers:

Veronica Moretti Researcher, University of Bologna
Fiorenza Lipparini Director of Research, PlusValue, London – Milano – Brussels
Grazia Concilio Associate professor, Politecnico di Milano
Valentina Tageo Project manager, MULTI-ACT project – Fondazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla


Laboratorio Colore (Department of Design  – Politecnico di Milano)

Campus Bovisa Ed. B4, Via Candiani 72, Milano (Italy)


This workshop is supported by:

  • European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST);
  • SISCODE Project – Society in Innovation and Science through CODEsign;
  • Meta Study Unit (Social Sciences and Humanities for Science and Technology);
  • STS-Italia, the Italian Society of Science and Technology Studies.


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