What knowledge do we need to address Chagas?

Valeria Arza, Julián Asinsten y Sol Sebastián

Results from World Café exercise | Online Workshop from STRINGS project

On October 29th, we held a virtual workshop to outline, in a collaborative way, what type of scientific research is most helpful in addressing Chagas disease, which is one of the case studies carried out in the context of the STRINGS project. Fifteen people participated from different parts of the country. They contributed their experience and perspective on the topic. Among participants, there were actors from scientific, public policy and civil society organisations.

The workshop was organized with a “World Café” methodology: three discussion tables were proposed, around which all participants rotated over two and a half hours. The discussions were very rich; they were carried out in small groups and we noticed interest in participating and a fair word circulation. We synthetise the main points that emerged in each table below.

Table 1: Why are some topics more highly prioritised in the scientific agenda about Chagas?

Participants contributed with different views. They pointed to funding schemes as one of the main reasons for the prevalence of certain research topics over others. This generates a bias: as there

By |2021-11-10T15:40:00+00:00November 10th, 2021|Blogs|0 Comments

Five metaphors for steering institutional change

Prof John Robinson

Creating a sustainable world will require significant change in the way our institutions function and act. What follows is one attempt to outline some lessons learned—in the form of five metaphors—that I have found useful in trying to foster institutional change in universities.

The metaphors grew out of a 12-year process—from 1999 to 2011—of trying to get the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) created at the University of British Columbia (UBC). CIRS was designed to be a living lab of sustainability and net positive in four environmental and three human ways (it eventually succeeded in five of these goals). Creating it proved much more challenging than expected. What became evident as we tried to get this building and its programs conceived, funded, approved, designed and implemented, is that there were many institutional road-blocks, grounded in the normal decision-making practices and institutional culture of the university, that worked against our efforts.

It speedily became apparent that every aspect of that vision—the inter-institutional academic partnerships, the nature of the relationship with non-academic partners, the governance structure, the sustainability goals for the building process, the building design process, the process of obtaining funding for the building and program, the

By |2021-05-12T12:45:54+01:00May 12th, 2021|Blogs|0 Comments

To meet the Sustainable Development Goals, we must transform innovation

Dr Saurabh Arora and Prof Andy Stirling

In 1925, Mahatma Gandhi famously included ‘science without humanity’ and ‘knowledge without character’, alongside ‘politics without principle’ and ‘commerce without morality’ in listing Seven Social Sins. Today, we can see these social sins of Modernity as central to unsustainability, ranging from climate disruptions and toxic wastes, to rampant inequality and poverty.

The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are arguably the most comprehensive modern attempt to tackle unsustainability challenges. Yet it remains to be seen if they can deliver the ambitious transformations in science, technology, politics and commerce needed to avoid reproducing Gandhi’s compellingly diagnosed syndromes – and so achieve genuine sustainability.

While the “development, transfer and dissemination” of relevant sciences, technologies and innovations (STIs) is central to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for transforming our world, the need to transform incumbent structures governing the development of modern science and technology is left largely out of the picture. Meanwhile, transformative social and political innovations are also neglected.

The UN promotes the following STIs as relevant for the SDGs: modern energy generation and distribution infrastructures; pharmaceutical innovations; agricultural and marine technologies for environmental monitoring; and information and communication technologies for bridging

By |2021-04-20T10:47:16+01:00April 19th, 2021|Blogs|0 Comments

Knowledge integration for societal challenges: from interdisciplinarity to research portfolio analysis

Dr Ismael Ràfols

This post was originally published on Leiden Madtrics, the official blog of STRINGS partner the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University.

For research to address societal challenges, indicators of average degree of ‘interdisciplinarity’ are not relevant. Instead, we propose a portfolio approach to analyze knowledge integration as a systemic process; in particular, the directions, diversity and synergies of research trajectories.

By |2021-02-05T11:04:19+00:00February 5th, 2021|Blogs|0 Comments

Where have academic and policy discussions on science, research, technology and innovation for the SDGs focused?

Dr Hugo Confraria and Agustina Colonna

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) acknowledge that science, research, technology and innovation (STI) are vital drivers of the global transformation towards a better and more sustainable future for all.

However, the impact of STI investments and policies on the SDGs is complex, often intangible and full of synergies and trade-offs.

As part of STRINGS’ work to better understand these complex relationships, we set out to analyse the main findings from publications (both scientific papers and grey literature) that examine the relationship between STI and the SDGs. This blog summarises the themes emerging from this literature review, and the implications for efforts to better align STI with the SDGs.

By |2021-04-20T10:48:43+01:00December 16th, 2020|Blogs|0 Comments

Part II: Maximising STI impact on the SDGs – local capacity building

Prof Joanna Chataway and Dr Tommaso Ciarli

This is the second of two STRINGS blogs which explore features and characteristics of science, technology and innovation (STI) policy and interventions that seem crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): open access and transdisciplinarity and building of local capabilities.

This blog focuses on the importance of local capabilities. The focus is predominantly on health but much of what is said has broader relevance. The broad argument is that although the SDGs are global goals, they won’t be achieved unless there is support for a variety of types of local capacity building and support for context specific policy and advice.

The first blog in this series was Part I: Maximising STI impact on the SDGs – open science: a case study on Chagas disease.

By |2021-04-20T10:49:23+01:00October 5th, 2020|Blogs|0 Comments

Part I: Maximising STI impact on the SDGs – open science: a case study on Chagas disease

Valeria Arza and Agustina Colonna

This is the first of two STRINGS blogs which explore features and characteristics of science, technology and innovation (STI) policy and interventions that seem crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): open access and transdisciplinarity and building of local capabilities. The second blog in this series is Part II: Maximising STI impact on the SDGs – local capacity building.

It is no wonder that Chagas disease was included in the list of neglected tropical diseases by the World Health Organization in 2007 (WHO, 2020). Over 100 years have passed since Chagas was first discovered and there is still no appropriate solution to this problem, which mainly affects marginalized communities around the globe.

Chagas constitutes a socio-environmental problem (Sanmartino, 2015) that interacts with several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in addition to good health and wellbeing (SDG 3). For instance, education and access to information is key for prevention; better infrastructure, including roads and hospitals, is important for early detection and treatment; while changes in ecological systems, due to production activities and climate change, have moved the vector (i.e. the kissing bugs that may transmit the disease) towards new, frequently urban, areas.

What is open science, and how can

By |2021-04-18T19:08:12+01:00August 24th, 2020|Blogs|0 Comments

Consensus and dissensus in ‘mappings’ of science for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Ismael Rafols, Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), Leiden University and Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex

The shift in R&D goals towards the SDGs is driving demand for new S&T indicators…

The shift in S&T policy from a focus on research quality (or ‘excellence’) towards societal impact has led to a demand for new S&T indicators that capture the contributions of research to society, in particular those aligned with SDGs. The use of the new ‘impact’ indicators would help monitoring if (and which) research organisations are aligning their research towards certain SDGs.

Responding to these demands, data providers, consultancies and university analysts are rapidly developing methods to map projects or publications related to specific SDGs. These ‘mappings’ do not analyse the actual impact of research, but hope to capture instead if research is directed towards problems or technologies that can potentially contribute to improving sustainability and wellbeing.

By |2020-12-15T08:38:35+00:00July 30th, 2020|Blogs|0 Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic and open science

–  Valeria Arza and Agustina Colonna

Research Center for Transformation (CENIT), Economics and Business School, National University of San Martin

6 May 2020

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought about many changes throughout the world in only a matter of weeks. Humanity is facing a problem without precedent; the final effects are yet uncertain and most of us have been forced to drastically change our routines and behaviors in a way we have never imagined. Big challenges often boost creativity and promote important transformations in society, and this has been the case with the coronavirus crisis. Note for instance the many solidarity initiatives ranging from fund-raising schemes and food banks, to volunteers assisting individuals in high-risk groups, together with several citizen-led resources that have been created or adapted to help find our way through the pandemic (EU Citizen Science 2020). Another relevant example has been the drastic change in many information markets, where thousands of resources such as books, museum exhibitions and movies have been temporarily opened for the community free of cost.

For science, the particular challenge posed by this situation is immense, as the spread of coronavirus has created urgent and life-threatening problems. Solutions must then be fast, while the

By |2021-04-18T18:50:25+01:00May 6th, 2020|Blogs|0 Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic shows how power produces poverty

Saurabh Arora and Divya Sharma

This blog was originally published on the STEPS Centre blog.

Responses by governments to the COVID-19 pandemic around the world reveal how poverty is produced by social power. The pandemic points, in particular, to the culpability of power exercised through the state.

Consider the Indian government’s top-down lockdown imposed on 24th March 2020. Arguably “the world’s strictest lockdown”, it is producing widespread impoverishment through mass unemployment, leading to hunger and hardship for millions. Livelihoods carefully built over many years by people are being destroyed. Hard-earned dignity is being compromised by desperate poverty produced through diktats of the state.

Many observers in India have noted that some of the immediate suffering produced by the lockdown could have been avoided. The chaotic lockdown is marked by police violence (against street vendors and migrant workers) as well as a lack of responsibility and accountability. The national government, it seems, was unprepared for the effects of its own response to the pandemic. A relief package, announced two days after the lockdown’s imposition, has proven inadequate. It is failing to reach many of those who need it.

Vulnerable people are

By |2021-04-18T19:02:42+01:00April 28th, 2020|Blogs|0 Comments
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