Science education plays a very critical role when applying Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) practices as it provides the specific competencies for learners to become the responsible citizens that society needs. For this reason, it is necessary that educators are properly supported to implement science education that will translate into responsible citizenship in the future.
Emphasis should be placed on connecting innovation and science education strategies (…), taking into account societal needs and global developments.”Science Education for Responsible Citizenship Report
Immersing students and teachers in a single direction towards research and innovation will foster sustainable interactions between all the actors involved (high schools, industries, researchers, etc.). The integration of RRI principles in teaching and learning activities supports a diversity of ability and stronger student engagement as well as student acquisition of critical thinking and collaborative learning skills.
On the other hand, all this knowledge will make them take better decisions and make well-informed and evidence-based choices when it comes to their active citizen participation (elections, citizen engagement programs, etc.). Moreover, this ability to quickly adapt to changes and respond accordingly will make prepare the next generations for future complex challenges they will face and come up with powerful and innovative solutions.
In this path toward educating future policymakers, entrepreneurs, researchers and global leaders in general, higher education institutions have a key role to play in Research and Innovation (R&I). In this complex process, they are not only responsible for ensuring that students learn the theoretical knowledge but also encourage them to go beyond and explore new ways of transforming society. Thus, higher education institutions can help transform the R&I system such that societal responsiveness, sustainability, and ethical acceptability become R&I’s new normality. To achieve this complex goal, higher education institutions will not only have to engage the university community but also actors above and below their scope that can turn its impact into a structural change.
Furthermore, implementing RRI practices inside the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education could make these career paths more interesting to young students, especially women that have been historically underrepresented in these sectors.
Bearing these arguments in mind, it is clear that science education will play a key role in the development of efficient RRI practices in developing strategies to ensure sustainable and valuable innovation throughout time.