Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

Participation and governance

How can conflicts over future issues in technology and science be resolved democratically?
Icon 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.

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, GrüneLunge im Dialog (GreenLung in dialogue), or CapaCities. With the establishment of the Karlsruhe Transformation Center, structures are being created to accompany social transformation processes in the long term.

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 for the co-design of technologies and implementation concepts for the use of renewable resources. In projects such as APV-RESOLA, GECKO, and FuTuReS, researchers are developing environmentally sustainable paths for biomass and energy use that meet the demand for transparency and social co-determination.

Knowledge transfer

ITAS provides scientific policy advice and takes part in the social dialogue on science and technology. We work on issues of participation and involvement by and with citizens (citizen science) and publish the open access journal TATuP – for the TA community and those interested in TA. ITAS is committed to the internationalization of TA, develops its own teaching formats for problem-oriented research, and coordinates an interdisciplinary doctoral support program and an International Graduate Summer School.

Repository research

ITAS has been analyzing the possibilities of societal participation in the search for a final repository for many years, for example in the research association ENTRIA. Currently, the SOTEC-radio project aims 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 investigate a cross-generational learning procedure for public participation. Furthermore, they work together with citizens on specific questions of the repository search in the TRANSENS project.


Final disposal: Dr. Peter Hocke-Bergler

Global technology assessment: Dr. Julia Hahn

Long-term governance: Dr. Dirk Scheer

Parliamentary policy advice: Dr. Arnold Sauter, Dr. Christoph Revermann

Social Transformation: Dipl.-Geoök. Sarah Meyer-Soylu

Society and energy transition: Dr. Witold-Roger Poganietz

Further contact

Jonas Moosmüller
Public relations
Tel.: +49 721 608-26796