ITAS is the leading institute for technology assessment in Germany and worldwide.
Technology assessment is important because scientific and technological progress does not only improve our lives, but frequently has unexpected and often undesirable effects. Climate change, environmental problems, data misuse, or collapsing traffic systems are among the most well-known examples. Knowing the spectrum of possible technology impacts at an early stage helps us to make good use of the potentials of progress and minimize or avoid the risks.
Along these lines, we provide the knowledge required for these actions and point out approaches to solve the current global challenges. The results of our research are addressed to politics, the industry, and society, so to those actors who shape the scientific and technological progress.
Type of research
Technology impacts do not stop at the boundaries of scientific disciplines. In fact, they can only be comprehensively explored in the systems perspective from a number of different points of view. Therefore, our research is highly interdisciplinary and includes a wide variety of subjects, ranging from philosophy to social sciences, economics, and law to psychology and the natural and engineering sciences. And since technology assessment requires as many perspectives as possible, we often invite society, initiatives, and stakeholders, but also individual citizens to participate in our research.
Our topics do not arise from the inherent scientific logic, but from a dialogue with society on equal terms. Our work is problem-oriented, we listen to the perceptions, wishes, and concerns of numerous societal actors, for example regarding ecologic problems, new forms of mobility or the impacts of digitalization on our lives. The orientation towards the goal of sustainable development is decisive for all activities of the institute.
Our research is committed to scientific independence and a claim to excellence. The results contribute to societal debates and serve the progress of scientific knowledge – not only in technology assessment itself, but also in the disciplines involved, such as systems analysis, social sciences, or ethics.
In order to contribute to a democratic dialogue on technology, we address the public. At the same time, our research results find their way into policy advice.
Since 1990, our Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB) has been providing advice to the members of parliament on all matters related to scientific or technological progress. Our focus is on fields of political activity such as the energy and mobility system, agriculture, the labor market, the health system, or research policy.
We also advise the European Commission and several federal and state ministries. Since 2005, we have been coordinating the European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG). This network of European TA institutions provides advice to the panel for Scientific Technological Options Assessment (STOA) of the European Parliament.
Since technology impacts do not stop at the boundaries of disciplines or states, we have been working internationally for decades. This includes projects with international partners, for example, from Brazil, the US, Russia, Australia, Japan, or China as well as an initiative for a global network of technology assessment with members from 22 countries. ITAS is also a member of numerous important international networks:
- Netzwerk TA (NTA) is a network of German, Austrian, and Swiss TA institutions
- European Parliamentary Technology Assessment Network (EPTA), the consortium of European TA institutions advising national parliaments
- European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG), a network coordinated by ITAS providing scientific services for the European Parliament
- Society for the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies (S.NET), an international association for the critical inquiry about the advancement of new and emerging technologies in society
- Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation (VIRI), a network for responsible innovation coordinated by Arizona State University (ASU)
- Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes (GCSO), a global consortium for research, development, and capacity building in the field of sustainability
- European Energy Research Alliance (EERA), the European network for systems analysis of energy technologies:
At the national level, we are part of the Technology, Innovation, and Society (TIS) program of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers where researchers from different institutions work together on research questions in the fields of energy and key technologies. ITAS is the largest partner in the program and provides its spokesperson.
Within the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), ITAS is connected with numerous institutes and departments. Major activities are the participation in the KIT Centers Humans and Technology, Climate and Environment, and Energy. There are also close co-operations with many faculties in the form of shared projects and jointly supervised dissertations. Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald and Prof. Dr. Dr. Rafaela Hillerbrand hold chairs at KIT.
History of ITAS
ITAS was founded in 1995, but has a history of almost 60 years of technology assessment and systems analysis in Karlsruhe.
|2020||The work at ITAS is reorganized in ten research groups.|
|2019||Foundation of the globalTA network.|
|2017||The redesigned ITAS journal TATuP – Journal for Technology Assessment in Theory and Practice is published peer reviewed and open access.|
|2015||20 years of ITAS (year book) and 25 years of TAB (TAB-Arbeitsbericht).|
|2014||Premiere of the public series of events technik.kontrovers.|
|2013||In March, the first European TA conference is held in Prague in the framework of the PACITA project.|
|2012||In September, the “Central Department of Technology-Induced Material Flows (ZTS)” becomes part of ITAS.|
|2012||As first real-world lab in Germany, District Future - Urban Lab starts the sustainable transformation of an existing city district in Karlsruhe.|
|2012||ITAS moves from Campus North to the former bank building Veith L. Homburger in Karlsruhe’s city center (Karlstraße 11).|
On 29 September, the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB) celebrates its 20th anniversary. Since its foundation, it has been continuously operated by ITAS.
On 1 October, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is founded after a merger of the Research Center Karlsruhe (FZK) and the University of Karlsruhe (TH).
|2005||ITAS coordinates the European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG) providing scientific services for the European Parliament’s STOA panel.|
|2005||10 years of ITAS. (ITAS-yearbook)|
|2004||In November, the first conference of the Netzwerks TA is held in Berlin.|
|2002||The ITAS journal ”TA-Database-Newsletter” is renamed “Technology Assessment – Theory and Practice”.|
|2002||Armin Grunwald is also appointed Director of TAB on 1 January.|
|1999||Armin Grunwald is appointed Director of the institute on 1 October and shortly afterwards takes over the chair of TA and systems analysis at the University of Freiburg.|
|1999||On 1 September, TAB moves from Bonn to Berlin-Mitte.|
|1998||Herbert Paschen retires as Director of ITAS on 30 June but still heads the TAB. As Deputy Director, Reinhard Coenen is temporarily in charge of the institute from 1 July 1998 until 30 September 1999.|
|1998||ITAS and the Research Center Karlsruhe celebrate “25 years of TA in Germany” (1973-1998) and the 65th birthday of the Director of the institute at an event in Bonn-Bad Godesberg on 17/18 June.|
|1995||In October, the web presence of ITAS and TAB goes online.|
After a decision by the Advisory Board of the Research Center Karlsruhe, AFAS becomes the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) on 1 July under the direction of Herbert Paschen.
|1992||The first issue of the AFAS journal “TA-Datenbase-Newsletter” is published in March.|
Parliamentary TA organizations from Germany, Denmark, France, Great Britain, and the Netherlands partner with the TA institution of the European Parliament to form the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment Network (EPTA).
|1990||Establishment of the TAB in Bonn and operation by AFAS (Herbert Paschen also becomes Director of TAB).|
|1987||After the failure of the first study commission a second one on TA is established in November; Herbert Paschen is appointed as a member.|
|1985||Work on the establishment of a TA infrastructure and database (by order of the BMFT) is started in co-operation with FIZ Karlsruhe.|
|1985||On 15 March the German Bundestag decides to set up a study commission on the “assessment and evaluation of technological impacts”.|
|1977||Foundation of AFAS on 1 January with Herbert Paschen as its head.|
|1976||The Executive Board suggests turning parts of the IAS (Institut für Angewandte Systemanalyse) into a "staff department" which shall be part of the Executive Board. This does not obtain a majority in the Scientific-Technical Board (Wissenschaftlich-Technischer Rat, WTR).|
|1975||On 1 January the division “Planning and Innovation” of the Studiengruppe für Systemforschung (SfS) is transferred into IASR (Institut für Angewandte Systemtechnik und Reaktorphysik) where it forms a department under the direction of Herbert Paschen.|
|1973||On 21 March, a hearing is held at the German Bundestag on the SfS survey on priorities of research policy. Helmut Krauch resigns from SfS. There are now two research areas: “Planning and innovation” (Head: Herbert Paschen) and "Information and documentation" (Head: Werner Kunz).|
|1973||First parliamentary initiative for the establishment of a parliamentary office for the assessment of technological developments; the administration of the Bundestag requests an expert opinion from Herbert Paschen and SfS.|
|1972||IASR (Director: Wolf Häfele) is founded on the basis of the IAR (Institut für Angewandte Reaktorphysik) at the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center.|
|1958||Helmut Krauch sets up the Studiengruppe für Systemforschung (SfS) in Heidelberg.|
Anmerkungen zur Institutsgeschichte. In: Grunwald, A.; Riehm, U. (Hrsg.): Jahrbuch des Instituts für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS) anlässlich seines zehnjährigen Bestehens im Juli 2005. ITAS-Jahrbuch 2003/2004. Karlsruhe: Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe 2005, S. 345-356
Wissenschaftliche Politikberatung in den 60er Jahren. Die Studiengruppe für Systemforschung, 1958 bis 1975. Berlin: edition sigma 2006
(Gesellschaft - Technik - Umwelt, Neue Folge 9)
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