Tasks and Objectives
ITAS investigates scientific and technological developments with a focus on their impacts and possible systemic and unintended effects. It produces analytical knowledge and assessments of socio-technical developments in order to provide policy and design options for decision-makers. The research covers ethical, ecological, economic, social, political-institutional, and cultural questions. Major goals are advice for research and technology policy, provision of knowledge for the design of socio-technical systems, and the organization and observation of discursive processes on open and controversial questions of technology policy. Parliaments and governments (ministries, administration) are the main addressees of this policy advice. The results of research and policy advice are publicly available.
Research and Advice
Research at ITAS is organized in research groups:
- Sustainable Bioeconomy
- Digital Technologies and Societal Change
- Final Disposal as a Socio-Technical Project
- Life, Innovation, Health, and Technology
- Mobility Futures
- Sustainability and Social Transformation
- Philosophy of Engineering, Technology Assessment, and Science
- Research for Sustainable Energy Technologies
- Socio-Technical Futures and Policies
- Socio-Technical Energy Futures
ITAS is providing research-based advice for ministries, authorities, and parliaments with an emphasis on parliamentary policy advice. Since 1990, ITAS operates the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB). Together with the European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG) ITAS is also coordinating a European network to advise STOA (Scientific Technological Options Assessment), the technology assessment institution of the European Parliament since 2005.
Institutional Integration and Networks
ITAS is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German research centers and the largest partner in the Helmholtz program "Technology, Innovation and Society". The German Aerospace Center (DLR), Forschungszentrum Jülich, and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) are also contributing to this program. Armin Grunwald is the spokesperson.
Within KIT, ITAS is connected with numerous other institutes according to its research topics and the disciplines involved. Major activities are the active participation in the KIT Focus "Humans and Technology" and the KIT Centers "Climate and Environment" and "Energy". There are also close co-operations with many faculties, partly in the form of shared projects, partly via teaching appointments or jointly supervised dissertations.
ITAS is co-operating with various national and international scientific institutions, especially in the framework of EU projects and international networks. There are also institutional relationships with the New University of Lisbon and the Lomonossow University in Moscow in research and PhD programs as well as with the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU).
ITAS is a member of several important international networks. ITAS is one of the initiators of the "Network TA", a consortium of German, Austrian and Swiss TA institutions. TAB represents ITAS in the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment Network (EPTA). ITAS is also a member of the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, which is promoting Life Cycle Thinking and the application of Life Cycle Assessment in science and economy on an international level. In addition, ITAS is also committed in the Society for the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies (S.NET) since its foundation.