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Introduction to Responsible Innovation


Admission requirements



This is the introductory course for the Responsible Innovation minor. Technology plays an ever-increasing determining factor in our lives as individuals and society at large. New technological innovations contribute to human well-being, but they may also introduce considerable risks to humans, animals, the environment and future generations. As such, we have every reason to insist that the new technologies we develop as a society respect the values we hold dear. Various governments, companies and research funding agencies have now recognized this need for “responsible innovation.” The main aim of this course is to reflect on the nature of technological innovation in relation to societal and ethical concerns, and to gain a solid understanding of the notion of responsible innovation and value-sensitive design. Responsible innovation can, as a concept, be understood in a substantive and in a procedural sense. As a procedural notion, responsible innovation refers to a process of innovation that meets certain norms, like transparency, public engagement, and accountability (to stakeholders and to society). As a substantive notion, responsible innovation refers to a process of innovation that results in innovative technologies that reflect important moral values, including health, safety, human and animal welfare, sustainability, justice, inclusiveness, democracy, privacy, trust, and autonomy. In this introductory course we will learn about responsible innovation by studying these concepts and by focusing on some of the above-listed values, asking just how they can and should be implemented in our innovations. Throughout the course, we will explore questions such as: what do we mean by “good” or “responsible” design and innovation? What is the role of technology in our daily lives, and what is the relationship between moral values and innovation? How should we deal with the (unknown) risks of new technologies?

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Identify and explain conceptions of active and passive responsibility and how they relate to technological innovation

  • Identify and explain basic concepts from normative ethics and their relation to technological innovation

  • Compare and assess theoretical views regarding the relationship between ethical values and technology

  • Develop a cogent written ethical argument applying course theory to a case study of technological innovation


The timetable can be found in the right menu, under files

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Assessment method


Take home quiz with closed questions (10%)
Individual writing assigment (50%)
Group essay and presentations (40%)


The final mark of the course is established by determining the weighted average



Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Readings for the course will include a selection of articles and book chapters covering responsible innovation and associated topics (e.g., ethics of technology, value-sensitive design), made available through Brightspace. Examples of readings from past years include:

  • I. van de Poel & L. Royakkers, Ethics, Technology, and Engineering: An Introduction (selected chapters)

  • J. Stilgoe, R. Owen, & P. Macnaghten, “Developing a Framework for Responsible Innovation”

  • J. van den Hoven, “Value Sensitive Design and Responsible Innovation”

  • L. Winner, “Do Artifacts Have Politics?”

  • I. van de Poel, “An Ethical Framework for Evaluating Experimental Technology”

  • M.E. Porter & M. R. Kramer, "Strategy & Society: the link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility"

  • P-P. Verbeek, Moralizing Technology (selected chapters)

  • R. Thaler & C. Sunstein, Nudge (selected chapters)


Students need to register for the minor at their home university and in uSis Leiden, and for each individual course in uSis Leiden.

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. T.W (Taylor) Stone


Not applicable