Abstract:  Living labs are interdisciplinary and participatory initiatives aimed at bringing research closer to practice by involving stakeholders in all stages of research. Living labs align with the principles of participatory research methods as well as recent insights about how participatory ways of generating knowledge help to change practices in concrete settings with respect to specific problems. The participatory, open, and discussion-oriented nature of living labs could be ideally suited to accompany ethical reflection and changes ensuing from reflection. To our knowledge, living labs have not been explicitly trialed and reported in ethics literature. In this discussion paper, we report and discuss four initial issues that marked the process of setting up a living lab in ethics: (1) determining the goals and expected outcomes of an ethics living lab; (2) establishing operational procedures; (3) selecting communities and defining pilot projects; and (4) adopting a lens to tackle emerging questions and challenges. We explain these four issues and present the paths taken based on the novel and specific orientation, that is, living ethics, at the basis of this project. In alignment with living ethics and É-LABO, we approach challenges as learning opportunities to ask not only “how” questions but also “why” questions. We hope that this discussion paper informed by our experience helps to clarify the theoretical, methodological, and practical approaches necessary to successfully adopt and employ living labs in ethics.


Racine, E., D’Anjou, B., Dallaire, C., Dumez, V., Favron-Godbout, C., Hudon, A., Montreuil, M., Olivier, C., Quintal, A., Chenel, V., Developing a living lab in ethics: Initial issues and observations. Bioethics. 2024 Feb;38(2):153-163. doi: 10.1111/bioe.13246. Epub 2023 Dec 17. PMID: 38105613.