Synthetic Biology & Communication 

Breaking and Entering: Video tour of a participatory installation exploring different opinions on the ideal relationship between science and society.

Responsible research and innovation is a grand challenge for European science and societies, and with the BioSYNergy project we will take the lead in developing best practices in this field. Crucial will be to envision controversies and scepticism as a key opportunity for developing better and more robust innovations.

Instead of imagining external stakeholders as posing barriers to research, we will integrate as many diverse perspectives and opinions on technological development in order to make the BioSYNergy research project as socially robust as possible. Public scepticism should not be seen as an impediment to science, but we need to understand the fundamental origin of such skepticism and address it directly, rather than just disregard it.

The selection of proper science approaches and constructive dialogue with the general public and citizen scientists will be achieved via the establishment of benchmark bioethics and communication platforms. These platforms not only cross the science disciplines but also reach out to the general public, politicians and small, medium, and large enterprises.

Center Phd student Britt Wray's TEDx talk, "The Lab Is Not Hermetically Sealed"

With the commencement of the BioSYNergy project, communication researchers became involved in the Center for Synthetic Biology. Within the collaborating framework of the Center, this group of researchers will establish a novel and integrated communications benchmark platform for making society and scientists equipped for constructive dialogue on new technologies and scientific social responsibility.

This work will be centered around both concrete, public engagement work and in basic research on science-society engagement such as:

  • New forms of democracy and participation
  • Science communication in social media
  • Cognition, materiality and emotions

Our bioethics and communication benchmark platform will entail these efforts to integrate perspectives, understand the science and reach socially robust solutions. The predicted outcome will be a new breed of researchers serving as frontrunners in this development. Not only will they have a deep and embodied experience and understanding of how to practice responsible research and innovation. Their general research practices will also benefit from this platform. Open communication ensures the absence of fraudulent behaviour, which is more difficult to hide in environments where open discussion prevails.

Based on the “share your parts” principle of nature, synthetic biology may guide us to environmentally benign solutions to address some of the global challenges, we are confronted with. However, for such an approach to be successful, researchers need not only to get the science right, but also to ascertain that they take scientific social responsibility seriously, by following approaches that will be recognized as worthwhile by the general public.

Read more about the Center’s research here:

View the Center's scientific publication output here