Anticipate, reflect, engage and act (AREA)

A Responsible Innovation approach should be one that continuously seeks to:

Anticipate – describing and analysing the impacts, intended or otherwise, (for example economic, social, environmental) that might arise. This does not seek to predict but rather to support an exploration of possible impacts and implications that may otherwise remain uncovered and little discussed.

Reflect – reflecting on the purposes of, motivations for and potential implications of the research, and the associated uncertainties, areas of ignorance, assumptions, framings, questions, dilemmas and social transformations these may bring.

Engage – opening up such visions, impacts and questioning to broader deliberation, dialogue, engagement and debate in an inclusive way.

Act – using these processes to influence the direction and trajectory of the research and innovation process itself.

Some of the skill sets required to enact the AREA framework will be unfamiliar to some of our community and we have outlined some further resources that may be of use. For Responsible Innovation to take place in a meaningful way, it will be important that we and our researchers nurture and promote partnerships with other disciplines and spheres of expertise and facilitate training to enable these skills to be developed and taken forward. This might, for example, involve integrated approaches and collaborative research involving social and environmental scientists, ethicists and engagement practitioners.