Team:Valencia Biocampus/RRI Report


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Responsible Research and Innovation Report

To understand and comprehend what RRI actually means, we have written our own report about what is exactly means. In this report, which you can find and download at the bottom of this page, explores the meaning of RRI in Science in general, in Synthetic Biology and the implications it can have in the iGEM competition.

How do you choose your research topic?

In relation to what RRI really is, we thought that asking scientists could be an interesting view of reality. RRI defends the constant dialogue between science and society. But do scientists really listen to what our society needs? We contacted hundreds of scientists from all over the world and from all branches with one simple question: how do you choose your research topic? We sadly concluded that personal interest is the main factor when they have to decide about their research topic. For further conclusions and more details, we invite you to have a look at our survey, which is included in our RRI report that can be downloaded.

Ten Tales on Synthetic Biology

Responsible Research and Innovation mainly defends the need to study society’s necessities. However, that is not all. It also focuses on the fact that scientists have to be critical and judge their own work to see if it is actually useful for society. RRI defends the auto examination of one’s own attitude. Scientists must be aware of the power they hold in their hands and the importance of using it in a cautious way.

In this context, an idea came up: why don’t we examine our own points of view? Are we really aware of the power we are playing with? Has the rest of society even considered the power science has? With these questions in mind, we thought of a special way of combining both things; our self-criticism along with attracting society’s attention. And this is how Ten Tales on Synthetic Biology was born.

Our team was divided randomly into two groups, with 5 members each. The first group was assigned to think about positive stories about how Synthetic Biology could save the world. The other group had to give ideas for stories where Synthetic Biology completely destroyed the world we would someday live in. Two different visions of the same problem. The two sides of the same coin.

The aim of this task was that each member had to put him or herself in the best or worst scenario. With this, every student had to consider the importance and power of Synthetic Biology. Giving the idea was the way each person had to think about all the possibilities science could offer. However, the fact that we decided to develop a book was not just a matter of creating something visually appealing for the competition. We thought it would be a nice and original idea so that everyone could reflect on all the possibilities science has, and more particularly, Synthetic Biology. Writing a book with 10 short stories is a way to get to the greatest number of people in a variety of conditions. iGEM teams usually give conferences or go to schools to try and show children the importance and interest in science. Nevertheless, our aim was different. Our idea was that adults should be the ones who actually thought about the impact science has in our daily lives. And not only scientists or people in related professions. The book is thought for all kinds of people, because every person forms part of society. Reading two different points of view in the same book seemed like the right way to make people think about its impact. Even though it were just a little moment before they went to sleep.

The objective of this book was that the team members considered and studied all the power Science is capable of controlling and that everyone that reads these stories takes just a few minutes out of their busy lives to think about the possibilities Science holds. We wanted to raise awareness of the positive and negative consequences Science can have. But most importantly, show all types of people, including scientists, the importance of responsible research.

The conclusions that are deduced from this study depend on each one of you. You can download the book for free and draw your own conclusions!