Towards a Framework of Responsible Research and Innovation in Brazil

Saturday, 15 February 2014
Columbus IJ (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Marko Monteiro , State University of Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Phillip Macnaghten , State University of Campinas (UNICAMP ), Campinas, Brazil
In this presentation we will examine what responsible innovation might mean in a Brazilian context and the challenges that it faces in relation to current ‘live’ debates on science policy. Using insights from the anthropology and sociology of scientific knowledge, and using research with science policy actors, we will examine the capacities and propensities of research bodies in Brazil to be anticipative, reflexive, inclusive and responsive. This will be scrutinized in relation to key areas of controversy, such as the exploration of deep-sea petroleum (known as "pre-salt") and the development of bio-energy technologies (e.g. ethanol fuel for cars).

Brazil is currently undergoing a new cycle of heavy investments in infrastructure, an expansion of scientific institutions and an ever-greater focus on promoting innovation through public policies. This context sets forth new challenges for social scientists: how do we reflect on science and technology in relation to specific meanings of "responsibility"? How can social scientists participate in defining policies for science and technology, as well and interfering with how they are implemented? How can we incorporate notions of democratic governance in emerging countries such as Brazil, with specific cultural and historical practices relating to science, technology and innovation?

The Brazilian context is very rich in terms of the potential for reflection on and practical action in its science and technology infrastructures. As an emerging economy, and also an emerging regional power, Brazil is yet understudied in terms of how it enacts the governance of science and technology. New developments, such as recent oil finds, set forth questions of how an economy still low in carbon emissions from industrial activities might shift to a petroleum-based and industry-heavy context, and how this shift might occur in terms of its policies and its social and ethical principles. Will these developments respect the environment and promote social inclusion? Will they be implemented technocratically as so many projects were during the 1964-1988 military regime? This presentation will explore some of the issues relating to Brazil's current innovation practices and reflect on how they can be carried out responsibly.