The 10th in the long running series of International Conferences on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) was successfully hosted online on Wednesday, 25th and Thursday 26th October 2023 by the London School of Management Education (LSME). The core theme of this year’s event was ‘Education for All’ derived from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG), linked closely to the strategy and operational focus of the hosting organisation, LSME.
The event, attended by over 160 delegates from twelve countries over the two days, featured keynote and special addresses from internationally renowned academics, senior leaders from prominent international agencies and invited dignitaries from the UK. Over 50 papers were delivered during streamed conference sessions including materials from early career researchers alongside the thoughts of seasoned academics and industry professionals.
Conference opened with an overview from the Conference Chair, Professor Stephen McKinney of the University of Glasgow, and a short welcome from the Conference Convener, Dr Ravi Kumar. The Mayor of Redbridge, Councillor Jyotsna Islam, welcomed all participants, especially those from international locations, noting the special contribution made by LSME to the economic and social fabric of the Borough in South East London. Professor Peter Gray, Nord University of Norway positioned the Conference within the wider context of RRI and its emerging role as a ‘Resolving Machine’ in enabling transformative change through academic learning. Professor Asif Abdul Karim (Malaysia) commented on the challenges facing society in making the principle of ‘Education for All’ into a reality in the complex and turbulent world. H.E Dr Kevin Isaac, High Commissioner of St Kits and Nevis, drew attention to the ‘intricate tapestry’ of issues and ideas underpinning education delivery across the world, noting the value of conferences like this in ensuring knowledge is harnessed and used for the greater good. Dr Sarita Parhi, Principal of LSME, thanked all guest speakers for their contributions, and positioned the 10th Annual conference relative to the 9 previous events, where a similar collaborative approach had been successful in knitting together diverse perspectives on issues with multi-faceted solutions to the challenges set out by researchers. A final vote of thanks from Dr Dolly Jackson-Sillah, Vice Principal LSME, brought the opening session to a close.
The opening Keynote Address of the conference was delivered by Professor Stephen McKinney in an insightful, wide ranging and sobering assessment of the realities of ‘Education for All’ from the perspective of groups particularly prone to exclusion in recent years. Listing a range of factors that often lead to key groups such as children and females being denied access to education, Professor McKinney went on to discuss the issues of unaccompanied children (e..g. refugees) and child soldiers The keynote also demonstrated how human ingenuity is instrumental in adapting to challenge, with schools being set up in bomb-shelters, metro-stations and tent-cities. Noting that in some contexts beset by war, less than one third of children are able to access face to face teaching, Professor McKinney concluded by observing that even under extremely challenging conditions, educational facilities are often one of the first resources to be restored as communities seek to rebuild infrastructure and conditions.
Following the keynote address, delegates were allocated to parallel sessions for main Conference Business, in which researchers, academics and practitioners gave accounts of their research and learning.
Day Two of the Conference saw the second Keynote Address, from Professor Peter Gray, Nord University, Norway, on the subject of Responsible Research and Innovation. The address drew attention to the strong and consistent contribution made by the Conference series in promoting a valuable adjacent proposition to the established norms for research and sharing of knowledge, against a backdrop of educational values increasingly polarised by capitalism and competition. Noting the impact of a lack of leadership to take the world in new and more socially cohesive directions, Professor Gray explored the value of RRI and its underlying principles in providing an opportunity for a better future for all. Examples were given of institutions such as the University of Utrecht, whose shift towards RRI had led to the redefinition of curricula to ensure practical and sustainable outcomes were achieved from academic endeavour, rather than purely academic outputs.
This second Conference Keynote was followed by a further round of online parallel sessions in which presenting delegates delivered their contributions to the event.
In a special Plenary Session, Professor Chandra Bhadra of Tribhuvan University Nepal, set out a thought-provoking picture of ‘Education for All’ from a Nepalese perspective. In a colourful and insightful address, Professor Bhadra explored factors leading to restricted access to education in the developing economy of Nepal, and in particular the impact of environmental challenges on access to education.
The final Valedictory session featured votes of thanks from the Conference Chair, Professor Stephen McKinney, Conference Convener Dr Ravi Kumar and contributions from the Chief Guest, Dr Ibrahim Zakarya Moosa, the Vice Chancellor of Islamic University of the Maldives.