Citizens’ Dialogue series on the impact of technology and societal transformation

Project description

The dialogue between science and society is an essential element of technology assessment. At the same time, involving the public is part of the Excellence Strategy of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Against this background, the “Citizens’ Dialogue” was developed at ITAS in order to strengthen the link between research and the public in the long term.

On the one hand, the format allows to derive new ideas and questions for research. On the other hand, it takes into account the interests and values of the citizens, for example, by asking: What research topics should KIT take a closer look at and what should be considered from a societal perspective?

The aim of the project is to develop and conduct an annual Citizens’ Dialogue and to reflect on the results scientifically and methodologically. Citizens’ Dialogues are also a regular part of the KIT Science Week, held every two years. People from Karlsruhe and the surrounding area discuss socially relevant developments with KIT colleagues in an atmosphere of trust.

The issues discussed range from the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in vehicles and the design of the energy system to the role of science in the climate or Corona crisis. The participants’ perspectives are passed on to KIT decision makers and provide, for example, information for the future design of research agendas.

The format will be continuously developed. In addition, the project is closely linked to the ITAS project PaFo. PaFo investigates the ongoing participation processes and their mechanisms of action.

The following Citizens’ Dialogues have been held so far:

  • Citizens’ Dialogue “Artificial Intelligence in Everyday Life” (October 2021): Discussion tables on the relationship between AI and (a) energy, (b) autonomous driving, and (c) robotics were at the core of the event. In addition, selected participants acted as citizen ambassadors (short report, in German).
  • Citizens’ Dialogue “Corona Crisis, Energy Crisis, Climate Crisis: What Do We Expect from Science?” (November 2022): During the event, the role of science in different crises situations was discussed. Important elements were trust in research and the science system as well as related expectations of science (short report, in German).
  • Citizens’ Dialogue “Reward Climate Action! How? Dialogue with citizens” (October 2023): During the event we focused on incentives that motivate people to initiate and improve climate protection actions. The focus was on (1) climate-friendly travel, (2) the use of renewable energy systems, such as balcony solar panels, (3) heating and (4) visual digital approaches (short report, in German).

The project is also based on experiences from the Karlsruhe dialogue format on Autonomous Technologies in the European Context (only in German), which ITAS conducted for the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2018.


Marius Albiez
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-23968