There is a common saying in Japan that “a grain of pepper may be tiny but it still is sharp on the tongue” – Good things come in small packages. As one of the packages, this EU-funded two-year project (Sep 2018-Aug 2020) is called PEPPER – Positive Environment in Public Participation and Engagement for Responsible Research and Innovation, to be hotter than other bigger research projects.
When both experts and citizens are suffering from the gap between principle and practice in the conduct of ‘responsible’ research and innovation, public participation and engagement can set a win-win situation where scientists get help from the public and the participants get involved in real and meaningful scientific research and innovation, unless ethical issues are overlooked. Under the circumstances, this project aims to explore methodological, epistemological and institutional approaches by which a wide range of experts, stakeholders and citizens can have a positive attitude to the governance of research and innovation and distribute responsibility in a more natural and proportional manner. It has three objectives:
- To identify methodologies by which less engaged individuals, hackers and citizen scientists and their communities positively and continuously participate to bring substantive benefits of scientific knowledge and innovation and to undertake distributed responsibility in the governance of research and innovation.
- To establish a theoretical and practical framework for incorporating future generations’ values into the design and implementation of positive engagement.
- To indicate organisational and societal conditions under which participants can actively design, conduct, facilitate or participate in positive engagement.
But, what is ‘positive’ and why it is necessary? Why not using ‘active engagement’? These questions are exactly what this project explores and will answer. “Geh doch dahin, wo der Pfeffer wächst” in German literaly means that “Go where the pepper grows” but the real meaning is “Go jump in a lake and get lost”. Okay, it is time to submerge myself in work again.