Kutoma Wakunuma (PhD)
I am a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at De Montfort University where I work within the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR). I hold a PhD in Information and Communication Technologies for Development and Gender. My research interests are around understanding the impact of ICTs on modern society spanning both the developed and developing world. This is in addition to interests around ethics of technologies, gender in ICTs, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and Civil Society Organisation research. My interests are reflected in a number of projects including EU projects I have worked on and continue to work on. The EU projects include ETICA (Ethical Issues of Emerging ICT Applications); CONSIDER (Civil Society Organisations in Designing Research); Network Analysis of Civil Society Organisations Participation in Research Framework Programmes and SATORI (Stakeholders Acting Together On the ethical impact assessment of Research and Innovation) to name a few. I have taken on several roles on these including being part of the coordination team and WP leader. For example, I was lead evaluator on the Evaluation WP of the SATORI project. I was also Principal Evaluator on the EU funded project Hypatia where I evaluated the projects gender related aspects particularly concerning the involvement of boys and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
In addition to all the exciting work outlined above, I am also a Senior Lecturer teaching on postgraduate and undergraduate courses, which include RRI in ICT, ICT for Development, Computing Ethics as well as Research, Ethics and Professionalism. I also serve as module leader on a number of the modules I teach. In addition, I am programme leader for the MSc Computing programme. I also supervise PhD students and have a couple of successful completions to my name.
My other activities involve being a journal reviewer on a number of journals. I also act as a European Commission evaluator and ethics expert.
I am currently DMU lead on the RRING project where we are contributing to a number of WPs. The WPs include Global State of the Art of RRI by key geographies; Global comparative analysis of State of the Art; Development of Competitive advantages of RRI; Aligning RRI with SDGs and high-level RRI strategies and the Establishment of a perpetual global RRI network. I am especially excited about the potential of understanding the state of the art of RRI in different geographical regions, which include Africa, the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean. This is particularly important, as it will give us insight into how RRI is understood in other regions outside of Europe. I think the RRING project is really exciting not only in its reach of different geographical regions as it tries to understand the concept of RRI beyond Europe but also in its contribution to the UN’s SDGs as it aims to align RRI to the SDGs. In particular, I am very happy with its focus on gender, which is something very important to me. Having a gender committee and a number of women in leading roles on the project is especially encouraging and something to be proud of as a member of the project. It highlights the important contributions women like myself can and do make in research. With this, I am hopeful that various other projects can take a leaf out of the RRING project and involve more women in strategic roles and in research as a whole. If you want to know more about me and the work I do, you can follow me on Twitter: @KWakunuma or visit my Linkedin profile. You can also visit my google scholar citation profile or visit my university home page.
I am a postdoc researcher at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) and one of the women in the RRI project. I am currently co-responsible for the RRING Work Package 5, in which we examine the relationship between RRI and competitive advantage. What we want to find out is whether RRI may be a driver of competitive advantage, or maybe a barrier, in different areas of the world. We are looking at the linkages for RRI worldwide; therefore, we look at the 5 geographical areas defined by UNESCO that are the focus of the project RRING; that is, Africa, the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
There are three distinct phases within this work package. The first phase is mostly exploratory and consists of a theoretical part and an empirical part. To start with, we will examine both academic literature and policy, managerial and European project documents that can help to shed light on the relationship between RRI and competitive advantage. This is a particularly challenging task in those geographical areas where the term RRI has not been very widely utilized. Therefore, we also look for proxies that are consistent with a global understanding of RRI. This is relevant for the next phases of the work package, where we will look at RRI and competitive advantage in practice. As part of this exploratory exercise, we will also conduct interviews with experts in RRI and competitive advantage, and we will perform a survey. The next phase of the project in this Work Package builds on the review and develops indicators that can be used to help businesses policymakers – and potentially other stakeholders – in their evaluation of RRI and competitive advantage. At the moment, it is difficult to assess the business case for RRI, and by looking at proxies for RRI we aim to develop usable indicators that are valid globally. In the third phase of the Work Package we are going to go back to businesses and policymakers, to work with them in two different tasks: evaluating the usefulness of the developed indicators, and carrying out case studies that will help us to understand whether and how RRI and competitive advantage are intertwined. Based on all this data, Work Package 5 will provide reports for different stakeholders on the relationship off RRI and competitive advantage.
Beyond RRING, I am interested in the inclusion of sustainability and socio-ethical goals in the innovation process, and how the whole system surrounding businesses affects the development of the firm’s innovation activities in one way or another. The main reason why I do what I do is my will to contribute to sustainability. And as noted by New Zealand’s former primer minister Helen Clark, “any serious shift towards more sustainable societies has to include gender equality”. Thus, I stand with my peers and allies in those areas where I can have the greatest impact: visibility of women researchers, equal education for girls worldwide and social and economic equality for women everywhere. Because gender equal societies are more prosperous and more sustainable societies.