On June 12, 2019 a workshop was held in Brussels, at the headquarters of KOWI, on “Ethical Frameworks and Responsible Research – Challenges to Science in a Changing World”, organized by K&I under the PRO-RES project. The meeting is part of a series of exchange initiatives between researchers of various disciplines and stakeholders aimed at developing a guidance framework for ethics and research integrity. The Workshop was attended by 24 people, including researchers, research managers, representatives of the European Research Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament, from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.

The workshop, chaired by Giovanna Declich (K&I) was opened by welcome speeches from Louiza Kalokairinou (Ethics and Research Integrity Sector, European Commission); by Angela Liberatore (Head of the Human and Social Sciences Unit of the European Research Council Executive Agency; by Gabi Lombardo (EASSH – European Alliance for the Social Sciences and the Humanities, PRO-RES partner). The subsequent intervention by Wiebe Bijker (Emeritus Professor of Technology & Society at the Maastricht University) focused on the need to distinguish between ethics and integrity of research, the difficulty in adapting the ethical standards of medical sciences to social sciences and the importance of institutional mechanisms for applying the ethical framework by PRO-RES. Luciano d’Andrea (K&I), after having contextualized the reflection on ethics and responsibility in the changes taking place in society and in science, proposed an exploratory approach to ethics. Ingeborg Meijer (Centre for Science and Technology Studies , University of Leiden) illustrated the approach used by the NewHorrizon project, which dealt with ethics in the context of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), through the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders.

The subsequent discussion on the ethics and responsibility of researchers addressed the relationship between scientists and policy makers and the contribution of science to decision making and the problems existing in ethical evaluation (among others, the presence of many codes and regulations; the malfunctioning of ethics committees; the new challenges to ethics from technological innovation; the relationship between ethics and freedom of research).

In the afternoon, the agenda focused on the first draft of the PRO-RES ethical guidance framework, illustrated by Ron Iphofen, AcSS, partner responsible for drawing up the framework. The discussion concerned both the format and the contents, as well as the relationship with the policy makers. The discussion with researchers and policy makers will continue in the coming months, through the many initiatives planned by the project (other workshops, online consultations, mid-term conference in February, etc.).