Engineering Responsibility in Science, Technology & Innovation

Engineering Responsibility in Science, Technology & Innovation

The Technical University of Munich has committed itself to promoting responsible research and innovation. The STS Department is a central partner and driver within this strategy. To do so, we bring together scientific, policy, economic and societal partners within research and teaching. For us, ‘responsible research and innovation’ means to make the consideration of societal aspects and implications an integral component of scientific and technological practice. Given the importance of research and innovation for contemporary societies, it becomes more and more vital to shape our technological futures in an open, responsible, and democratic way.

“When researchers and engineers develop new solutions and technologies, they also change our world… this, at the end, also entails large societal responsibility“

Frank Walter Steinmeier, President of Germany, April 12, 2018

Responsible research and innovation processes…

  • are open and transparent
  • anticipate possible consequences and reflect alternatives
  • strengthen social diversity and are inclusive
  • are responsive and adaptive

The STS Department offers diverse initiatives in research, teaching and dialogue to promote socially responsible research and innovation processes.

… in Research

At the STS Department, we investigate in a variety of research projects how responsible research and innovation as a guiding theme of contemporary research policy can be put into practice. We ask: How can societal needs and interests be included and addressed within research? How can the public and different stakeholder groups participate in research and innovation processes? How can we promote democratic engagement and decision-making in regard to our technological future? Research projects at the MCTS not only contribute to a reflection of the role of science, technology, and innovation within contemporary knowledge societies, but also explore concrete forms and formats of how responsible research and innovation can be initiated, promoted and supported.

Project "Scaling Up Co-Creation" (SCALINGS)

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Project "Public Imaginations of Genome Editing in Livestock"

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… in Teaching

Our students and alumni are important multiplicators for a socially responsible approach towards research and innovation. We train students to systematically assess and reflect upon the relations of society, science, and technology. To this end, we offer courses and programs on the bachelor, master, and PhD level. Our teaching combines training in academic concepts and theories and on how to apply them in different fields of application such as policy, industry, and academic research.

Master’s Program “Responsibility in Science, Engineering and Technology” (RESET)

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in Dialogue/Consultation/Public Engagement

The STS Department is actively engaged in developing different platforms to promote dialogue and exchange between science and society. We organize interactive events where citizens can participate actively in technological development. We also offer formats where we bring different stakeholders together in order facilitate between different perspectives and standpoints. ‘Citizen Science’ is not just a buzzword, but a common practice in different projects at the STS Department that offer citizens a platform to generate new ideas. Technological development is not just a technical procedure. It is always also a social process.

Past events:

Schiedel-Exchange on TechnoSociety

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Makeathon: 3D-Printing in Prosthetics

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Selected Publications

  • Borck, C., Lipphardt, V., Maasen, S., Müller, R., & Penkler, M. (2018). Responsible Research? Dilemmata der Integration gesellschaftlicher und kultureller Perspektiven in naturwissenschaftliche Forschungsprogramme. Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 41(3), 215-221. doi:10.1002/bewi.201801898
  • Maasen, S. (2018). Human Brain Project: Ethics Management statt Prozeduralisierung von Reflexivität? Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 41(3), 222-237. doi:10.1002/bewi.201801901
  • Meyer, U. (2018). Digitalisierung ohne Technik? Das Beispiel eines Praxislabors zu Arbeit 4.0. Arbeits- und Industriesoziologische Studien, 11(2), 229-246.
  • Müller, R., Hanson, C., Hanson, M., Penkler, M., Samaras, G., Chiapperino, L., Villa, P.-I. (2017). The biosocial genome? Interdisciplinary perspectives on environmental epigenetics, health and society. EMBO Reports, 18(10), 1677–1682. doi:10.15252/embr.201744953
  • Penkler, M., Hanson, M., Biesma, R., & Müller, R. DOHaD in cience and society: emergent opportunities and novel responsibilities. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 1-6. doi:10.1017/S2040174418000892
  • Pfotenhauer, S., & Jasanoff, S. (2017). Panacea or diagnosis? Imaginaries of innovation and the ‘MIT model’ in three political cultures. Social Studies of Science, 47(6), 783-810. doi:10.1177/0306312717706110