In addition to the institutional changes we are working on in our Change Labs we would like to inspire and help institutional changes beyond the project’s boundaries. For that reason we made an international call for innovative RRI practices.
The Co-Change project established 8 Labs which are organisational spaces for building transformative capacity and leadership in the areas of RRI. They operate at research performing (RPO) and research funding organisations (RFO) and at universities. Moreover, we really want to activate change coalitions around each lab, paying particular attention to interactions and dependencies of actors in each research and innovation ecosystem.
But we didn’t stop there!
To widen our impact and to learn from other actors, the project has published an international call for innovative RRI related institutional change ideas.
The goal was to extend the project outreach and include new practice partners into project workshops and the final conference, involving experts directly through related innovation ecosystems. The call has been oriented to innovators (individuals, teams and organisations) from all over the world to come up with solutions tackling the Sustainable Development Goals or the societal challenges defined by the European Commission through an ecosystem approach. In this sense, this initiative rewards ideas that generate a change in practical terms, e.g. in procedures, routines or guidelines throughout the research cycle. We believe that these contributions should improve Co-Change theory and practice and/or complement the labs. And surely provide the team with fresh ideas and challenges and enrich project discussions to open up in different directions.
The ideas were assessed against the criteria established by the Project Management Committee. We received five responses to the call, all of them achieved great recognition by the evaluation team. The applications were the following:
1. Empowering Diversity in Recruiting Project, DEBIAS
DEBIAS aims to tackle the challenge of (unconscious) bias in recruiting through an interdisciplinary, socio-technical approach that values human agency over algorithms in this process. The project DEBIAS attempts to take a more human-centric approach than it’s usual on the field of artificial intelligence /machine learning. Instead of trying to solve the problem of bias in recruiting by developing increasingly opaque and complex technologies, Debias taps into the rich body of work in management studies and psychology on the nature of human bias and translate these findings into a practical system that empowers recruiters and job applicants alike by instrumenting anonymization, parallelization and structure.
2. Women in Artificial Intelligence Austria
Women in Artificial Intelligence Austria seeks to create a network for all people, regardless of gender, education, and professional activity, with the goal of promoting and strengthening the participation and representation of women and girls in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Austria. Its mission is to ensure that technology benefits all people and society as such, leaving no one behind, by increasing diversity and inclusion from the planning and development to the deployment of AI. Through their activities, Women in Artificial Intelligence Austria supports the visibility of women working in AI in in Austria, particularly its members. They also work to interconnect the many subdisciplines developing in AI and bridge professional knowledge-silos.
The X-cite project is about an easily accessible online platform where citizens can check for themselves the science behind political parties' policy plans in an approachable language. X-Citing Policy allows political parties to upload their policy plans, based on which a university based network composed of students and professors parse through related academic literature and add supporting scientific papers showing evidence for and against the parties' claims.
4. Growing vegetables in school gardens for the improvement of children’s overall well-being
The aim of this project is to educate children (starting from kindergarten and well over into their primary school education) on how important it is to be physically active and eat healthily. The project would be executed through voluntary workshops where children cannot only gain theoretical knowledge related to vegetables through contemporary methods and content adequate for their age but also they can actively participate in growing vegetables.
5. Lab for Social Innovations, LabSI
LabSI project will build regional labs for social innovations in home care in Bulgaria by the Federation of social NGOs in Bulgaria. The project uses methodology to facilitate the design/implementation of community-based home care innovations (regional D-Care Lab as bottom-up, integrative, need- and solution-oriented approach) and methods to encourage interregional collaboration and co-creation (Transnational Lab, community building approaches).
All the applicants of the call fit well into the activity spectrum of the change labs and will be involved in the project and hopefully also in our RRI ecosystem in several ways. The three applicants (DEBIAS, Women in Artificial Intelligence Austria and X-cite) who received the best evaluation will be invited to our final conference next year.