Pioneer of TA: On the 90th birthday of Herbert Paschen

Against much opposition, the economist Herbert Paschen established technology assessment in Karlsruhe and paved the way for TA for the German Bundestag. An appreciation of the first head of ITAS by Armin Grunwald.
Porträt von Herbert Paschen während er eine Rede hält
Herbert Paschen, the first head of ITAS, at the celebration of his 90th birthday (Source: private)

“Herbert Paschen is rightly regarded as a significant pioneer of technology assessment (TA) in Germany. Institutional highlights include the establishment of the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB) in Bonn in 1990 (now in Berlin) and ITAS in Karlsruhe in 1995.

After studying at Heidelberg University – English and Spanish at the Dolmetscher-Institut, doctorate in economics – and subsequent professional activities in France and Algeria, Herbert Paschen took over the management of the Studiengruppe für Systemforschung (Study Group for Systems Research) in Heidelberg. It was here, initially under the leadership of Helmut Krauch, that his history with TA began. In 1975, it led him to the then Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe (Nuclear Research Center Karlsruhe), now Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

Pioneering work on energy transition, digitalization, and participatory research

There, Herbert Paschen initially headed the Department for Applied Systems Analysis (AFAS). This department did important preparatory work for parliamentary TA, but above all it took on pioneering work in the first steps toward an energy transition away from nuclear energy, in the emerging digitalization, and through the integration of participatory elements in TA. An expression of growing recognition was, still against much opposition, the foundation of ITAS in 1995. Herbert Paschen was founding director of ITAS until his retirement in 1998.

The basis for the success story of TAB

As early as 1990, Herbert Paschen also became founding director of the newly established TAB, back then in Bonn, now in Berlin. The structures and processes established at that time in the cooperation between TAB and the German Bundestag have proven durable to the present day and have enabled TAB’s now over 30 years of success. TAB’s 20th anniversary celebration with the then President of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, was a visible sign of TAB’s recognition by Parliament, but also far beyond.

As his dual successor in ITAS and TAB, I warmly congratulate Herbert Paschen on his 90th birthday and wish to express my appreciation for his pioneering achievements in TA.”

Armin Grunwald, head of ITAS


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