Embedding responsible innovation thinking in the next generation of STEM professionals

July 21st, 2021

How can we ensure that future science and technologies are designed with socially responsible innovation principles top of mind?

by Sarah McDonnell

How can we ensure that future science and technologies are designed with socially responsible innovation principles top of mind?

The Responsible Innovation (RI) Future Science Platform (FSP) has been exploring how part of the solution might lie in the next generation of STEM professionals.

Since March 2021, the RI FSP and CSIRO Education and Outreach (CEdO) team have been collaborating to develop and deliver a workshop series for high school students which explores Responsible Innovation principles and methodologies.

From basic principles to challenging ideas

A pilot series of workshops developed and were trialled in June this year with a cohort of fourteen CEdO alumni students.

The workshops were structured around scenarios that allowed the students to discuss innovation generally, before learning about responsible innovation and how best to consider the social, ethical and legal considerations of new innovations. With new understanding and tools in hand, they then looked at new case scenarios through the lens of responsible innovation thinking.

A digital platform was used to facilitate student interaction, individual work and group collaboration, with students openly sharing and challenging ideas.

A 3 by 3 storyboard illustrated by a student. It shows an example innovation and the considerations for farmers and consumesr. It's a digital illustration.

Insights into workshop design

The goal of the workshops was ambitious – we wanted to harness the curiosity and blue sky thinking of the next generation of scientists.

The workshop format was carefully designed to elicit responsible innovation thinking – and we found that when those principles are applied, questioning and discussion can evolve and broaden. The workshops generated open discussion and friendly debate around the future drive of science and technology.

Students were introduced to skills and understandings to:

  • Innovate for the future, employing design thinking and responsible innovation principles
  • Map stakeholder impact, produce a consequences analysis and produce a values list
  • Debate implications of values, impact and consequences and address these
  • Illustrate an innovation pitch using storyboard techniques.

Learnings and next steps

The learnings from the workshops will be used to develop resources for teachers which explain how responsible innovation approaches can be applied to the human endeavour outcomes of the science and technology curriculums.


For more information on this project, please contact: