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. The scope of ITAS activities in this field ranges from on-site real-lab research (cf. section “Transformation of Society”) to citizen science projects, such as TeQfor1 and TechnoCitizenScience, and topic-specific citizens’ dialogues to policy advice for the German Bundestag and the European Parliament. We publish an open access journal, TATuP, which addresses 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, 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.

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 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.

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.

Publications on the topic

Arzt, I.; Fricke, A.
Sonnendeck für Eidechsen.
2021. Baden-Württemberg macht einfach - 17 Ideen für eine Welt von morgen, 44, RENN.süd 
Bechthold, E.
Weshalb der Begriff der Akzeptabilität hilfreich ist.
2021. Transdisziplinäre Entsorgungsforschung am Start. Hrsg.: U. Smeddinck, 81–86, Technische Universität (TU Clausthal) 
Beckmann-Wübbelt, A.; Fricke, A.; Sebesvari, Z.; Yakouchenkova, I. A.; Fröhlich, K.; Saha, S.
High public appreciation for the cultural ecosystem services of urban and peri‑urban forests during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021. Sustainable Cities and Society, 74, Art.-Nr.: 103240. doi:10.1016/j.scs.2021.103240
Bergmann, M.; Schäpke, N.; Marg, O.; Stelzer, F.; Lang, D. J.; Bossert, M.; Gantert, M.; Häußler, E.; Marquardt, E.; Piontek, F. M.; Potthast, T.; Rhodius, R.; Rudolph, M.; Ruddat, M.; Seebacher, A.; Sußmann, N.
Transdisciplinary sustainability research in real-world labs: success factors and methods for change.
2021. Sustainability science, 16 (2), 541–564. doi:10.1007/s11625-020-00886-8Full textFull text of the publication as PDF document
Parodi, O.
Zum Verhältnis von Technik, Technikfolgenabschätzung und Transformation.
2021. Gesellschaftliche Transformationen. Hrsg.: R. Lindner, 19–36, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft 
Parodi, O.; Beecroft, R.; Albiez, M.; Böschen, S.; Defila, R.; Di Giulio, A.; Seebacher, A.
Wer partizipiert woran – und mit welchen Folgen? Erkenntnisse aus der transdisziplinären und transformativen Forschung.
2021. Gesellschaftliche Transformationen. Hrsg.: R. Lindner, 201–217, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft 
Parodi, O.; Steglich, A.
2021. Handbuch Transdisziplinäre Didaktik. Hrsg.: T. Schmohl, 255–265, transcript 
Rogozinski, S.; Saha, S.
The current state of resilience research in urban forestry: a qualitative literature review.
2021. International Journal of Plant and Environment, 7 (1), 1–16. doi:10.18811/ijpen.v7i01.4
Stelzer, V.
Transformation von Städten durch die Energiewende.
2021. Transforming cities, (2), 58–63