Science impacts society, causing change. Scientists thus always bear responsibility for self-critical reflection on their role and impact. The aim of the joint project entitled ‘Forschen in gesellschaftlicher Verantwortung – Gestaltung, Wirkungsanalyse, Qualitätssicherung (LeNa Shape)’ (‘Socially responsible research: design, impact analysis, quality assurance’), which was initiated in April 2021, is to anchor the principle of socially responsible research more firmly in scientific and research organisations and processes. The project was funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Education and Research for a period of two and a half years through September 2023. In addition to institutions of the Fraunhofer Society, the Helmholtz Association, the Leibniz Association, and the Max Planck Society, the project also involved institutes from RWTH Aachen, LMU in Munich, and the University of Tübingen.
The project draws on the results of a predecessor project, ‘Nachhaltigkeitsmanagement in außeruniversitären Forschungsorganisationen (LeNa)’ (‘Sustainability management in non-university research organisations’), which the ARL also participated in from 2013 to 2016. In LeNa Shape, the ‘reflective framework’ established in that preceding project, with eight criteria for researchers wanting to organise their work in a socially responsible manner, is being didactically organised and used for seminars and other events that are gradually being developed and tested during the current project.
The LeNa Shape module LeNa Move, in which the ARL is involved, promotes the dissemination of the LeNa reflective framework in the research community and the use of the reflection criteria in everyday research. By building on an investigation into how the intrinsic motivation of researchers and research managers to use the reflective framework can be supported by modern methods and adapted to institutional settings, and how major obstacles can be overcome, the LeNa Move module aims to develop tools that will simplify implementation of the reflective framework.
The ARL is contributing to the project its many years of expertise in transferring knowledge, coordinating transdisciplinary networks and discussion processes, organising transfer events such as conferences and scientific forums, and advising policymakers, the public ,and the research community. The ARL organises events at which the revised reflective framework for socially responsible research is presented to specific target groups including researchers and other stakeholders in research, research management, and science policy. Moreover, the ARL is heading the accompanying evaluation and distributing the project results to the respective target groups.
Further information about the project and the reflective framework for socially responsible research is available at https://www.nachhaltig-forschen.de/.