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Introduction to Responsible Innovation


Admission requirements

Intended for all BA and BSc students who successfully completed their first year-programme (propedeuse)


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? And how (if at all) can we really anticipate the future socio-ethical implications of newly emerging technologies?

Course objectives

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

  • Understand what responsible innovation means by explaining the following key theoretical concepts: ethical anticipation, ethical values, the value-laden nature of technological artefacts, procedural responsible innovation, substantive responsible innovation, value sensitive design.

  • Analyze and debate ethical values at stake in concrete cases of innovation.

  • Identify at least one methodology for embedding ethical values into technological artefacts.

  • Discuss challenges with respect to the embedding of ethical values in technological artefacts.

  • Debate the role of technological innovation in relation to the value of human well-being.

  • Develop a cogent ethical argument applying course theory to a case study of technological innovation. The case study will consist of a group component and an individual component. For the group component, students will work collaboratively on a wiki-page. For the individual component, to promote an inclusive learning environment, students will be able to choose a format that best matches their learning style: e.g. a written essay, a presentation, a podcast. The requirements in terms of covering theoretical content will be the same for each of these assignments).


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Assessment method


  • Group Assignment (40%)

  • Individual Assignment (40%)

  • Take home examination with closed questions (20%)


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


The students are allowed one resit per examination. It is not allowed to resit an examination or assignment for which they have received a pass (6,0 or higher). It is allowed to resit an examination or assignment which they haven't done during the first occasion. The resit format needs to be discussed with the teacher of the course in line with examination regulations.
In case the student is granted an extra resit by the Board of Examiners, this resit has to take place within study year 2021-2022.

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:

  • 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?”

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

  • Philip Brey, “Anticipatory Ethics for Emerging Technologies”

  • Ibo van de Poel, “Translating Values into Design Requirements”

  • Hilgarten, S. 2015. “Capturing the Imaginary: Vanguards, Visions, and the Synthetic Biology Revolution,” in Science and Democracy: Making Knowledge and Making Power in the Biosciences and Beyond, pp.33-55, Routlegde

  • Raman Srinivasan, “Technology sits cross-legged, Developing the Jaipoor Foot Prosthesis”

  • Ashley Shew, “Ableism, Technoablism and Future AI,”

  • Benoit Godin, Innovation Contested: The Ideo of Innovation over the Centuries (Excerpts)


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


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


Not applicable