Philosophy of Responsible Innovation

The Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW), Wageningen University and Delft University of Technology  invite PhD students to register for the course “Philosophy of Responsible Innovation” to take place in January, 2018

Organizing university

TU Delft, Wageningen University


10-12 January and 15-19 January, 2018


First week: TU Delft
Second week: Wageningen University

Exact locations TBA.

Type of activity

Gradute course

Type of activity

5 EC

Primary target group

PhD students (alfa, gamma, beta) who start their research in the field of Responsible Research and Innovation, and PhD students in philosophy who want to learn more about philosophical and ethical reflection in the field of science and technology development. Students from universities outside The Netherlands are encouraged to subscribe for the course as well.

Application/registration deadline

15 December, 2017

About the topic

This course discusses the main philosophical issues in relation to Responsible Innovation, an emerging concept in the EU context which highlights the relevance of social-ethical issues in research and innovation practices. This emerging concept calls for philosophical reflection on the nature, scope and applicability of responsibility and innovation in innovation practices in general, and the way social-ethical issues can be applied and addressed in specific fields like business, healthcare and energy in particular. Topics that will be covered include the nature of responsibility in responsible innovation, the role of societal values in innovation and value sensitive design, philosophical reflections on the role of knowledge and risk in innovation, constructive technology assessment and governance of responsible innovation, Responsible Innovation in the public sector (healthcare), responsible innovation in the private sector.

Students get to know some of the main positions in relation to philosophical issues in responsible innovation, the main arguments in the relevant debates and insight in the dilemma’s which appear in the practical application of responsible innovation in the public and private sector. Although the focus is on the philosophical and ethical issues raised by responsible innovation, we will also touch upon some more fundamental philosophical issues raised by responsible innovation. This includes issues like:

  • The nature of responsibility in light of the unpredictability of the future impact of innovations
  • The philosophical assumptions of the innovation paradigm
  • The way (responsible) innovations affect experience and praxis
  • Value incommensurability, value pluralism and the trade-offs between values in responsible innovation

Aim / objective

To become acquainted with the main philosophical issues in relation to Responsible Research & Innovation.


Week 1 (Delft)

  • Day 1 (10 January 2018): Introduction to Responsible Research and Innovation (Swierstra & van Lente)
  • Day 2 (11 January 2018): Conceptions of Responsibility in Relation to RRI (vd Poel & Blok)
  • Day 3 (12 January 2018): Value Sensitive Design (vd Hoven & vd Poel)

Week 2 (Wageningen)

  • Day 4 (15 January 2018): AIRR Framework and stakeholder engagement (MacNaghten & Cuppen)
  • Day 5 (16 January 2018): Constructive Technology Assessment and Governance of RRI (Rip & Kuhlman)
  • Day 6 (17 January 2018): RRI in industry (Blok & Scholten)
  • Day 7 (19 January 2018): Final Presentations (Blok & vd Poel)


  • dr. Tsjalling Swierstra, Maastricht University (day 1)
  • dr. Harro van Lente (day 1)
  • Vincent Blok, Wageningen University (day 2, 6 and 7)
  • dr. ir. Ibo van de Poel, Technical University Delft (day 2, 3 and 7)
  • dr. Arie Rip, Emeritus Twente University (day 5)
  • dr. Stefan Kuhlmann, Twente University (day 5)
  • dr. Jeroen van den Hoven, Technical University Delft (day 3)
  • dr. Phil MacNaghten, Wageningen University (day 4)
  • Eefje Cuppen, Technical University Delft (day 4)
  • Victor Scholten, Technical University Delft (day 6)

Required preparations

The participants are expected to read all the assigned literature, to do assignments and to actively participate in the discussions. They also have to give a final presentation (more information about the assignment will be provided during the first lecture)

Certificate / credit points

Study load is the equivalent of 5 ECTS. Please note that it is obligatory to attend all sessions of the course.


The course is free for:

– PhD students who are a member of the 4TU Center for Ethics and Technology and/or OZSW;
– Research Master students who are a member of the 4TU Center for Ethics and Technology and/or  OZSW;

All others pay a tuition fee of 250 euros.

How to apply / register

Please register using this form. The deadline for registration is 15 December, 2017.

In case of too many applications, the coordinator of the course will make a selection. In case of too little applications, the course will be cancelled. In case of cancellation, the OZSW will inform participants at least one week in advance. The OZSW is not responsible for any (accommodation) costs that students may have made in preparation for the course.


Vincent Blok (