Conference Connecting Practices: presentations of research projects
During the first day of the two-day NWO-MVI conference Connecting practices, researchers met for an intimate meeting at the Muntgebouw in Utrecht.
‘We will never forget this conference as the one being hit by the storm.’ With this observation, Wouter Boon from Utrecht University opened the meeting. The adapted program consisted of some nine presentations and a workshop. ‘Of course it is sad for the organisation that the storm threw a spanner in the works, but actually, this small setting leads to very fruitful discussions,’ commented attendant Frans Stafleu from Utrecht University, who barely escaped a falling tree while cycling to work earlier that day.
Keep sharing experiences
The people who managed to be there, were eager to share their views on the role of their research in shaping public debate, and on the role partners play in their projects. Tsjalling Swierstra from Maastricht University started the meeting by framing the challenge to connect research into responsible innovation to market practices, considering the differences in time scales and desire for transparency on both sides. But he also emphasised the need to overcome this challenge, since there is a lot to gain: ‘Smart and successful designs combine profit and ethics. Responsible innovation increases a company’s chances on the market.’
Exchanging insights and ideas
In nine different sessions, researchers discussed their scientific subjects and approaches. For example, Jilde Garst from Wageningen University presented her work on building a new framework helping companies in the food sector to develop value sensitive products. She raised the question: ‘Should we engage the broader public in these types of research and if so, how can we do that?’ Subsequently, her colleague Teunis Brand filled the audience in on the insights he gained during his case study around the ‘Kies bewust’ (‘Choose consciously’) logo: ‘Conflict between different partners in a project can be productive, and inclusiveness is not always good. Aiming for consensus sometimes silences the weaker voices.’
That the meeting was very fruitful for those who attended, was proved by a remark Jilde Garst made during the second day of the conference: ‘Yesterday after my presentation I got a question about a detail of my model, which kept me up thinking last night. It led to some great new ideas for future research, that I am going to implement right away.’