Challenges of Responsible Technology Design


The lecture "Challenges of Responsible Technology Design in Dynamic Environments" is an introduction to basic problems of humanities and social science approaches to technology and is offered in the cooperative degree program in Civil Engineering.

Course description

Innovation represents a leitmotif of the present. Innovations are intended to master the challenges of the present, such as those of the energy transition, climate change, aging societies, networked production, artificial intelligence, or mobility. At the same time, the side effects of innovations in the form of opportunities and risks are becoming increasingly apparent. After all, innovations are continuously changing the social, cultural and normative order of society to a greater or lesser extent. This concerns not only technical but also social innovations. Against this background, this course offers a systematic overview of approaches in social science and humanities research on science and technology, tailored to the question of responsible technology development. Responsible technology design today does not only consist of making reliable and safe science and technology, but also of recognizing the standards of reliability for different social as well as cultural contexts, systematizing them and making them effective in innovation action. Aspiring engineers need a differentiated ability to make judgments in order to cope with increasingly confusing research and development situations.

Skill Acquisition:

  1. Students have gained insights into the socio-technical dynamics of very different fields of innovation and technology.
  2. Students have become familiar with different perspectives from the humanities and social sciences in order to discuss socio-technical change.
  3. Students will be able to take the first steps of an ethical analysis in relation to different socio-technical arrangements and development dynamics and identify problems of responsibility.

Course structure

The course is structured according to three central areas.

  • Elements: Here, fundamental problems of the humanities and social sciences' engagement with technology will be addressed from the various disciplinary perspectives. This serves the understanding of technology as a social process. Technology does not simply develop from technology. Rather, technical development must be understood as a process of co-production of technical and social order.
  • Fields: The humanities and social sciences approach to technology relates to specific fields. It is precisely fields of emergent technological development that have inspired reflection in the humanities and social sciences. Therefore, the fields with the emblematic short titles "Nano", "Bio", "Info" and " Neuro " will be taken into consideration
  • Contexts: Relevant environments of technology development are treated here, which have a formative influence on the perception of and interaction with technology: ecological, economic and social/political environments are particularly relevant.


The lecture is organized by five professors from five different disciplines:

Through this compilation, questions of responsible technology design are illuminated from very different perspectives.