Ensuring quality of interaction
Principle 1: Inclusion
Navigation towards responsibilisation is more likely to be transformative if it takes into account the diversity of actors relevant to the problem or project. It should do so in a way that engages these actors directly and effectively in debate or joint activities, and considers both their material interests and core values. The actors should perceive the processes of sense- and decision-making as legitimate, transparent and trustworthy.
The guiding questions to follow this principle are:
Are all the relevant actors included/considered in the debates?
Are all the included actors relevant and able to make effective contributions to the debates?
Example 1: Developing a roadmap for an emerging technology based on a broadly accepted process
The research councils of a medium-sized European country are exploring the fu- ture potential of an emerging technology, synthetic biology (synbio). The pressure from a number of government depart- ments (a coalition of economics, busi- ness and technology / innovation) is to focus funding on advancing technologi- cal development as an expected route to accelerating economic and technological growth, but their proposed process is a hurried one and does not allow time to organise a dialogue involving broader participation of societal actors and stake- holders. However, the research councils responsible for biology and chemistry, supported by funding available from the supra-national governmental body, or- ganise a national discourse on the future of synthetic biology and its contribution to a range of societal objectives across health, well-being, environment, sustain- ability, and economic growth. Inclusion is managed by a combination of online consultations (principle 1: broad open- ness, bottom-up) and physical meetings (principle 1: targeted inclusion, sufficient level of representation). They ensure that the invitation list for the physical meet- ings is coordinated with the ministry of
science and education, the ministry for economics and the research council re- sponsible for social sciences to include a broad variety of stakeholders (princi- ple 1: heterogeneity of actors to be includ- ed, broad ownership of debate). Invitees include firms and research organisations seeking early commercialisation, actors and organisations that have been openly sceptical about an accelerated develop- ment of applied synbio research, as well as observers from social science (includ- ing philosophy and ethics). Care is tak- en to ensure that diversity of opinion is represented from the outset, including how the topic is framed (principle 1: initial openness of the framing of an issue). The roadmap is drafted in an iterative and dynamic process by a group of authors reflecting diverse perspectives. Minority views are clearly expressed in the final roadmap and its operationalisation pro- vides for resources to enable on-going adaptive and inclusive dialogue and ac- tion including the full range of stakehold- ers (principle 1: demonstrating inclusion, accepting dissent).