Department of Science,
Technology and Society

The Department of Science, Technology and Society (STS) at the TUM School of Social Sciences and Technology is dedicated to understanding the larger ethical, social, political and legal dimensions of science and technology. Embedded in TUM’s unique innovation ecosystem, we are committed to enabling a more responsible and sustainable engagement with science and innovation through social science research, teaching and public dialogue – often in collaboration with partners from technical fields.

About the STS Department

TUM launches new Department of Science, Technology and Society (STS)

TUM is launching the new Department of Science, Technology and Society (STS) as part of a major restructuring of the university. The department, which is part of the School of Social Sciences and Technology, will be the new academic home for the 70+ researchers formerly affiliated with the Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS) as well as a number of new faculty appointments in the field of STS over the next three years. The department expands the institutional groundwork laid by MCTS since 2012 to put society at the center of innovation and at the heart of the mission of a technical university.

The STS department is dedicated to understanding the larger ethical, social, political and legal dimensions of science and technology. Embedded in TUM’s unique innovation ecosystem, we are committed to fostering a more responsible and sustainable engagement with science and innovation through social science research, research, teaching and public dialogue – often in collaboration with partners from technical fields. The TUM STS community strives to provide the critical intellectual and practical resources to face the challenges of highly technologized societies and to train future leaders with a unique sensibility for the challenging interfaces between science, technology and society. As one of Europe’s largest hubs for STS, the department maintains close collaborative ties to other parts of TUM (for example on the future of mobilityresponsible robotics and algorithms, or life science management) as well as to leading STS centers in Germany and around the world.

 Voices from the Community: STS Department Launch@TUM

»This is a day to celebrate in the annals of Science and Technology Studies – the launch of a new department at Germany’s premier engineering university. Congratulations to the far-sighted university leadership, brilliant and dedicated colleagues, and eager students whose collective energy turned a vision into a reality for our field!«

Sheila Jasanoff, PhD
Director, Harvard Program on Science, Technology and Society
Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard Kennedy School

» As what was assumed to be global political and social order has been exposed as fragile and needing relentless work to rebuild it in a more just, mutually-respectful, and intelligent form, improved understanding of science as a vital social institution for open democracies is more important even than it was before. The new Department of STS at the Technical University of Munich’s School of Social Sciences and Technology, is founded on the seven years’ success of the internationally recognised Munich Centre for Technology in Society (MCTS), and is already a leading force in teaching, research, and public policy advice and engagement. The new Department will develop on these strong foundations, and enhance existing collaborative strengths further, not only with North America and the broader Europe, but also with the global South. The foundations of a diverse and open science capable of responding to, informing and learning from diverse grounded knowledge-cultures, through the major global challenges of the present and future, require interdisciplinary STS centres such as this one. TUM’s STS Department is already on its way to becoming a global leader and example in addressing these social and scientific-technical cultural challenges.«

Brian Wynne, PhD
Prof Emeritus of Science Studies, 
Lancaster University

»In order to ensure that new technologies are developed and implemented to serve the public interest, we must engage social scientists and humanists who understand the social, political, and historical dimensions of science and technology. Hearty congratulations to TU Munich for establishing an STS department that will foster this kind of research and education, and ultimately ensure the next generations of responsible innovation.«

Shobita Parthasarathy, PhD
Director, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program,
University of Michigan

»The world is at a crossroads with technology. Our ability to engineer powerful new technologies has now run up against the limits of the planet, created deep inequalities in global economies, and undermined democratic institutions. In creating its new STS department, TUM is making exactly the kinds of forward-looking investments that we need in education and research that brings the social sciences and humanities into dialogue with technological innovation. The people and ideas that come out of this department will help empower communities, companies, and countries to ask hard questions about today’s technological societies and imagine and design technological futures that work for everyone.«

Clark A. Miller, PhD
Director, Center for Energy & Society and Associate Director,
School for the Future of Innovation in Society,Arizona State University

»Congratulations on the launch of TUM’s new STS Department!! STS has rapidly been growing around the world, especially in technical universities, as scientists and engineers call for serious spaces in which to discuss the social and ethical challenges of technologies they are creating, and that are rapidly outrunning traditional policy frameworks. From algorithms that are now recognized not to be neutral with cascades of social effects beyond the understanding of any given software engineer, and cryptographic systems that intentionally obscure transparency and accountability; to writing new biologies, and uncovering unintended ecological effects, STS is increasingly a powerful platform to invite discussion and reflection among scientists, engineers, social medicine practitioners, social scientists, humanists, and artists, all bringing to bear a variety of modes of reflection, analysis, and serious experimental play upon which healthy and robust futures depend. Welcome to TUM’s new initiatives in this critical, challenging, and exciting space.«

Michael M.J. Fischer, PhD
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Anthropology and Science and
Technology Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

»Recent advances in science and technology provide tremendous opportunities for societies around the world, but also pose novel challenges for responsible governance and North-South relationships. To tackle these challenges, we need to re-think how universities can take a more society-entered approach and how they can mobilize international partnerships to foster more inclusive, sustainable and equitable forms of development through science and technology. I congratulate TUM to the decision to invest in a new STS Department and School of Social Sciences and Technology, which will go a long way in exploring new approaches to innovation.«

Julio Pertuzé Salas, PhD
Deputy Secretary of the Economy and Small Businesses, Chile
Former Head of the Economy of the Future Unit

»Science and technology studies are an interdiscipline that thrives on close contact with the disciplines which it studies. Having an STS department embedded within a Technical University is thus an exciting opportunity that promises creative new thinking both in STS itself and in its collaborating surroundings.«

Jörg Niewöhner, PhD
Head of Department European Ethnology,
Humboldt University Berlin

»Congratulations on what is a great step for the TUM colleagues, an important leap for STS as a field, and a heartening stride for the integration of STS perspectives in technical contexts.«

Jim Dratwa, PhD
Head of Ethics in Science and Technology
at the European Commission

»The TU Munich can only be congratulated for taking such an important and courageous step. The founding of the STS Department is not only the logical consequence of the development work that has been carried out in Munich with extraordinary success, setting by the way an example for many other STS units at technical universities, but also a future-creating step towards a new level of interdisciplinary integration of STS into (technical) innovation. The TU Munich has once again succeeded in demonstrating its claim to leadership among the technical universities in Germany.«

Prof. Dr. Stefan Böschen
Chair of Society and Technology at the Human Technology Center (HumTec), RWTH Aachen
Director of the Käte Hamburger International Center „Research Cultures“

»The new STS Department at TUM fills a critical gap in policy-relevant STS training and will immediately be an important piece of the science policy ecosystem in Europe and beyond.«

David Winickoff, PhD
Head, Working Party on Bio-, Nano- and Converging Technologies (BNCT)
Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

»The STS department is a wonderful new beacon in the global landscape of Science and Technology Studies. Over the last few years TU Munich has quickly built its reputation for excellent teaching and important research in this vital discipline. I look forward to seeing the department go from strength to strength.«

Jack Stilgoe, PhD
Professor of Science and Technology Studies, UCL

»The transformation of economies and societies calls for sustainable and responsible socio-technological designs. They need to be driven by societal demand, to be instigated by social scientists, and to be co-created with engineers. In 2012, as a frontrunner in Germany, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) established the Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS), with a clear focus on the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (STS). In 2021 TUM is again a frontrunner in Germany with the launch of a dedicated STS department in a new TUM School of Social Sciences and Technology. Universities like TUM have understood: they put societal needs at the centre of their research and education, a hopeful advancement!«

Prof. Dr. Stefan Kuhlmann, University of Twente
Director Netherlands Graduate School Science,
Technology and Modern Culture, WTMC

»The MCTS was a most interesting island at TUM and a platform for discussions about technoscience and society. I congratulate TUM for the decision to embrace this work and position it more prominently by recognizing STS as an important forum for students and faculty and international researchers. Building on a promising tradition, the island is now part of the mainland and the platform has become a public forum in which engineers and engineering students can reflect on themselves and their role in creating a sustainable world. «

Prof. Dr. Alfred Nordmann
Professor of Philosophy of Technology,
TU Darmstadt

»As the president of EASST, I am delighted to see TUM establish a full department of STS to develop and share knowledge on technology in society. By exercising thought leadership among European universities, TUM is developing a powerhouse for the responsible development of technology for future society. This could not come at a better time. «

Maja Horst, PhD
President, European Association for the Studies of Science and Technology (EASST)
Head of Section, Innovation Division, DTU Management

»Research on societal issues of science and technology has received major significance for shaping good innovation over the last ten years. The foundation of the new STS department at one of the largest and most excellent technical universities in Germany and worldwide is a great step forward – my warmest congratulations!«

Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald
Head of Institute, ITAS, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Head of TAB, Technology Assessment at German Bundestag

»Congratulations on launching the STS Department at TUM! It is truly thrilling that you are expanding the critical interrogation of the role of technoscience in society. STS has shown, time and again, how essential such interrogation is for the future of our collective existence, particularly democratic governance. I believe that further integrating STS into the rich technical legacy of TUM makes the university a very special space for dialogue and exchange on urgent societal and planetary issues across intellectual and disciplinary boundaries. I look forward to exciting new teaching and scholarship from TUM in the coming years.«

Kyoko Sato, PhD
Associate Director Science, Technology, and Society,
Stanford University

»The establishment of the Department of STS affirms that Technische Universität München has become one of the top programs in the world for addressing the challenges of a technological society.«

Matthew Wisnioski
Associate Professor, Science, Technology, and Society,
Virginia Tech

»I want to congratulate TUM for founding an impressive new Department of Science, Technology and Society. With TUM’s many talented faculty and researchers in the area, this new Department will immediately become one of the best such departments anywhere. This Department is well-positioned to pursue innovative projects that open up the construction and governance of technoscience in Germany, Europe and beyond, building on its researchers’ excellent studies of how intensified technoscience shapes and affects different aspects and levels of 21st-century societies.«

Sergio Sismondo, PhD
Professor, Queens University
Editor, Social Studies of Science

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Empirical

Whether investigating social robotics, urban mobility, or renewables – our research is empirical, and we base our teaching, outreach, and consultation on empirical research.

Interdisciplinary

 Whether exploring biotechnology, social media, or nanomaterials – we take an interdisciplinary approach. Based on empirical research, our teaching addresses the opportunities and problems of interdisciplinary research, publishing and communication.

Reflexive

Whether looking at sustainable water management, self-driving vehicles, or the consequences of controversial technical expertise – we explore each topic with regard to two questions: What are the potential positive or negative consequences of creating this new knowledge or developing this new technology?

Dialogic

Whether the topic is citizen science, social neuroscience, or information technologies – we develop custom-made strategies to bring our research to the public, as well as to policymakers and business stakeholders. We also offer research-based consulting.

The STS Department

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Academic Programs

Multidisciplinary and research-based – studying at STS Department

Doctoral Program

Doctorate at the STS Department 

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The people behind the STS Department