Participation and governance

How can conflicts over future issues in technology and science be resolved democratically?
ITAS Tema Participation and governance

We do not know what the world will look like in 20 or even 100 years. But we can observe technological developments, social conditions, and political trends and depict possible futures. This shows that future technological consequences are created in the here and now. In the interest of desired developments, we must intervene and shape already today. However, there are considerable uncertainties and doubts about the “right” paths to take, especially since hasty decisions may lead to paths that are difficult to leave again. Thinking long-term and at the same time being flexible and able to learn in the short term is extremely ambitious. Furthermore, these deliberations, whether on the design of energy policy or the progress of digitalization, must be democratic. The difference in the level of knowledge between experts and citizens alone makes this a major challenge.

At ITAS, we address this challenge with a combination of new approaches to the long-term governance of long-term processes and their participatory design. We see long-term processes such as the phasing out of nuclear energy, the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste, the introduction of the bioeconomy, or the energy transition as socio-technical challenges. Fundamental considerations on how to deal with risk and non-knowledge also have their place at ITAS.

Knowledge transfer

We consider the exchange of knowledge between research, politics, and society as a central cross-cutting activity. ITAS focuses on the impact of participatory formats, conducts on-site real-lab research (cf. section “Transformation of Society”), citizen science projects (e.g. TeQfor1 and TechnoCitizenScience) and topic-specific citizen dialogues. In addition, we are active in policy advice for the German Bundestag and the European Parliament and publish TATuP, an open access journal, which adresses the scientific community as well as those interested in TA.

Repository research

ITAS has been analyzing the possibilities of societal participation in the search for a final repository for many years. The SOTEC-radio project aimed at new political processes considering technical and societal aspects in the management of radioactive waste. In the Public participation in the siting procedure for a final repository project, researchers investigated a cross-generational learning procedure for public participation. Furthermore, they are currently working interdisciplinarily and transdisciplinarily with citizens in the TRANSENS project on specific issues relating to the search for a final repository.

Transformation of society

With its real-world lab District Future, the Institute is dedicated to the participatory transformation of Karlsruhe’s Oststadt. Urban society and researchers jointly test and explore new paths to sustainability. Participation – from exchange of knowledge to the empowerment of actors – is at the center of a series of transdisciplinary projects in the real-world lab, such as Climate protection – let’s dare it together, #climatechallenge, or Dual Mode Participation (DUPA). The Karlsruhe Real-world Lab for Sustainable Climate Protection (KARLA) extends the radius of the real-world lab to the whole of Karlsruhe and implements transformation experiments for more climate protection with more than 30 partners. The transformation of society also relates to the development and evaluation of sector coupling strategies together with municipal stakeholders. 

Global Technology Assessment

ITAS is co-initiator and coordinator of the globalTA Network, an association of 29 non-profit members worldwide. The goals of the network are to develop global frameworks and codes of conduct for the assessment of new technologies, to promote the worldwide exchange in the field of TA and to enable the anticipatory governance of technologies.

Co-Design of technologies

Together with citizens and stakeholders, ITAS develops action-oriented knowledge on co-design, for example in the field of assistive technologies or the use of renewable resources. Projects such as TERRAIN and QuartrBack aim to contribute to the demand-oriented development of human-machine interfaces for people with visual impairments and dementia, respectively. In projects such as APV-RESOLA, GECKO and FuTuReS, researchers are developing environmentally compatible paths for biomass and energy use that meet the demand for transparency and social co-determination.

Publications on the topic

Albiez, M.; Schmieder, L.; Weinberger, N.; Winkelmann, M.; Krischke, J.; Parodi, O.
Erwartungen an Wissenschaft in Krisenzeiten: Impulse für die Technikfolgenabschätzung aus zwei Beteiligungsformaten
2023. TATuP - Zeitschrift für Technikfolgenabschätzung in Theorie und Praxis, 32 (2), 36–42. doi:10.14512/tatup.32.2.36
Fricke, A.
Aktiv für den Wandel
2023. Stolle, Michael; Schnaubelt, Manuela (Hg.): Einfach anders machen! Perspektiven für den Alltag, 125–127, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) 
Fricke, A.; Parodi, O.; Trenks, H.; Saha, S.
Transdisziplinär forschen
2023. Transformative Geographische Bildung – Schlüsselprobleme, Theoriezugänge, Forschungsweisen, Vermittlungspraktiken. Hrsg.: E. Nöthen, 261–267, Springer Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-3-662-66482-7_36
Kirchhof, A. M.
Embodying Fear and Toxicity: Environmental Protests against West Germany’s Final Repository for Nuclear Waste in Gorleben, 1977-1980
2023. Hazardous Time-Scapes. How to Study Toxicity and Pollution from Multiple Timed, Spaced, and Embodied Perspectives, Ecology and History Series. Ed.: S. M. Müller, 233–252, Ohio State University Press 
Kuppler, S.
Atommüll – Zur Long-term Governance eines sozio-technischen Problems
2023. Handbuch Umweltsoziologie. Hrsg.: M. Sonnberger, 1–13, Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. doi:10.1007/978-3-658-37222-4_29-1
Kuppler, S.; Eckhardt, A.; Hocke, P.
Who Decides What is Safe? Experiences from Radioactive Waste Governance in Switzerland
2023. The Future of Radioactive Waste Governance – Lessons from Europe. Ed.: M. Arentsen, 169–198, Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. doi:10.1007/978-3-658-40496-3_7
Parodi, O.; Seebacher, A.
Ethische Aspekte der Reallaborarbeit
2023. Interventionen in Reallaboren : Ein Handbuch für die Praxis. Hrsg.: S. L’Orange Seigo, 53–59, ETH Zürich 
Parodi, O.; Steglich, A.; Bylund, J.
Real-World Lab
2023. Handbook Transdisciplinary Learning. Ed.: T. Philipp, 287–296, transcript Verlag 
Parodi, O.; Wamsler, C.; Dusseldorp, M.
Personal Sustainability
2023. Handbook Transdisciplinary Learning. Ed.: T. Philipp, 277–286, transcript Verlag 
Parodi, O.; Wendeberg, E.
Das Leitbild Nachhaltige Entwicklung
2023. Interventionen in Reallaboren : Ein Handbuch für die Praxis. Hrsg.: S. L’Orange Seigo, 44–52, ETH Zürich 
Smeddinck, U.
Behavioral Administration. Begriff, Nudging, Wirksam Regieren, Standortauswahlgesetz
2023. Herausforderungen für das Verwaltungsrecht. Hrsg.: H. Hill, 51–71, Duncker & Humblot 
Smeddinck, U.
Book review: Davodeau, Étienne (2023): Das Recht der Erde
2023. TATuP - Zeitschrift für Technikfolgenabschätzung in Theorie und Praxis, 32 (2), 62–63. doi:10.14512/tatup.32.2.62Full textFull text of the publication as PDF document
Smeddinck, U.; Eckhardt, A.; Kuppler, S.
Toward a repository for high-level radioactive waste: Perspectives and approaches
2023. Zeitschrift für Technikfolgenabschätzung in Theorie und Praxis, 31 (3), 11–17. doi:10.14512/tatup.31.3.11Full textFull text of the publication as PDF document
Stauffacher, M.; Schäpke, N.; Parodi, O.
Was ist ein Reallabor?
2023. Interventionen in Reallaboren : Ein Handbuch für die Praxis. Hrsg.: S. L’Orange Seigo, 13–18, ETH Zürich 
Trenks, H.; Scholz, N.; Bögel, P. M.
Diversifying Power - revisited