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Foto: Peter Winandy

Prof. Dr. Dr. Rafaela Hillerbrand

Head of research group
Research group “Philosophy of Engineering, Technology Assessment, and Science”
Room: 215
Phone: +49 721 608-26450
rafaela hillerbrandBns1∂kit edu

Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS)
Postfach 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Professional background

Before joining KIT, Rafaela Hillerbrand worked as an associate professor at TU Delft and was head of the interdisciplinary research group eet-ethics for energy technology at the Human Technology Centre (HumTec) at RWTH Aachen University. In 2011, she had the chance to advise the ethics commission for safe energy supply under Klaus Töpfer's guidance that was set up in reaction to the accidents in Fukushima. From 2006 till 2008 Rafaela hold a position as a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford.

Fields of work

  • Philosophy of science, engineering and technology
  • Applied ethics (esp. ethics of the environment, engineering ethics)
  • Risk and uncertainty analysis
  • Philosophy of computer simulations


Rafaela Hillerbrand holds a PhD in theoretical physics and a PhD in philosophy. She graduated with distinction (summa cum laude) in both fields. Her PhD thesis on ethics of technology won the Lilli-Bechmann-Rahn-Preis of the University Erlangen Nürnberg in 2005. Her doctoral dissertation in physics was awarded the Ingrid-zu-Solms Naturwissenschaftspreis 2008.

Current positions (selection)

  • Member HEiKa board of directors (Heidelberg Karlsruhe Research Partnership)
  • Ombudsperson for doctoral students and advisors at KIT
  • Deputy member at Council for Research and Promotion of Young Scientists (CRYS)
  • Field Editor “Energy Efficiency and Ethics” for the Journal of Energy Systems (JES)
  • Member of research board Heinz Nixdorf Gesellschaft
  • Member of research board BAM, Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung
  • Member of the Think Tanks of the President of the Helmholtz Foundation
  • Member of research board of the journal GAIA, since 2018
  • Member of advisory board “PlastikBudget - Entwicklung von Budgetansatz und LCA-Wirkungsabschätzungsmethodik für die Governance von Plastik in der Umwelt”

Selected external publications

Hillerbrand, R.; Roeser, S.
Towards a Third ‘Practice Turn’: An Inclusive and Empirically Informed Perspective on Risk. In: Franssen, M., Vermaas, P. Kroes, P., Meijers. A.: Philosophy of Technology after the Empirical Turn, Springer, 2016

Hillerbrand, R.; Roeser, S.; Peterson, M.; Sandin, P.
Handbook of Risk Theory. Epistemology, Decision Theory, Ethics and Social Implications of Risk. Springer, 2012

Hillerbrand, R.; Roeser, S.; Peterson, M.; Sandin, P.
Essentials of risk theory. Springer, 2013

Hillerbrand, R.; Reitinger, C.; Dumke, M.; Barosevcic, M.
A conceptual framework for impact assessment within SLCA. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 16(4), 380-388, 2011

Hillerbrand, R.
Order out of Chaos? A Case Study in High Energy Physics. Studia Philosophica Estonica 5(2), 61-78, 2012

Hillerbrand, R.
On non-propositional aspects in modeling complex systems. Analyse & Kritik 32, 107-120, 2010

List of publications outside of ITAS

Recent publications

Hillerbrand, R.; Poznic, M.; Eckert, C.; Stacey, M.
Uncertainties and games of make-believe. Vortrag auf dem 12th SIG Design Theory Paris Workshop, Mines ParisTech, Paris, Frankreich, 28.-29.02.2019

Hillerbrand, R.
Nachhaltigkeit: Was die Energiewende mit dem guten Leben zu tun hat. Vortrag im Rahmen des Studium Generale der Hochschule Pforzheim, 17.10.2018

Hillerbrand, R.
Shaping our energy future : the irreducible entanglement of the ethical, social, and technical realms. In: Büscher, C.; Schippl, J.; Sumpf, P. (Hrsg.): Energy as a Sociotechnical Problem. An Interdisciplinary Perspective on Control, Change, and Action in Energy Transitions. London: Routledge 2018, S. 200-220
(Routledge Studies in Energy Transitions)

Milchram, C.; Hillerbrand, R.; van de Kaa, G.; Dron, N.; Künneke, R.
Energy justice and smart grid systems: Evidence from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Applied Energy (2018)229, S. 1244-1259

Poznic, M.; Eckert, C.; Hillerbrand, R.; Stacey, M.
Designing as playing games of make-believe. Vortrag beim 11th SIG Design Theory Paris Workshop, Mines ParisTech, Paris, Frankreich, 29.-30.01.2018

Poznic, M.; Eckert, C.; Hillerbrand, R.; Stacey, M.
Jet engines, design teams and the imagination: Designing as playing games of make-believe. Vortrag auf dem Forum on Philosophy, Engineering and Technology (fPET 2018), University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA, 30.05.-01.06.2018

Hillerbrand, R.
Mensch und Technik. Wer beherrscht wen? Die Politische Meinung 62(2017)546, S. 27-32

Hillerbrand, R.
Mensch und Technik. Wer beherrscht wen? Die Politische Meinung (2017)546, S. 25-30

Hillerbrand, R.
Towards a values sensitive design of energy transitions. Technology and human wellbeing. Vortrag auf dem Values-Technology-Innovation Research Day (VTI), TU Delft, Niederlande, 30.10.2017

Hillerbrand, R.
Who is the expert? Or how the IPPC is its own worst enemy. Vortrag beim Workshop "Group decision-making in scientific expert committee", TiPLS, Universität Tilburg, Niederlande, 13.04.2017

List of publications at ITAS