The Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies (ZIRIUS)
... is a cross-departmental research center (Stuttgart Research Center, SCR) at the University of Stuttgart. At ZIRIUS, scholars from various disciplines, such as sociology, political science, psychology, economics or engineering, conduct research in the field of science, technology and democratic governance for a sustainable society.
…the requirements and chances of socio-technical change and democratic innovation on the way towards a democratic and sustainable society.
We understand socio-technical change as a complex set of interrelations between scientific, technological and social processes of change. Technological development itself has to be understood as a social process embedded into social, economic and cultural contexts.
Our research focuses on questions and challenges of socio-technical change and related risks as well as the chances of responsible technoscientific governance and effective citizen participation.
We study the intricate relations between scientific and technological innovations and the need to govern them in a responsible manner. Core areas of research are technology assessment, participatory risk assessment and innovative formats of citizen participation.
We understand technological development
…as social processes that are embedded into institutional, cultural, social, economic and political contexts. Scientific, technological and social change cannot be separated from each other but are shaping each other and mutually constitutive. Therefore, we conceptualize our subjects of study as socio-technical systems, processes and practices.
This brings about specific challenges for science, society and politics, that need be addressed simultaneously, namely to
- foster the benefitial innovative potential of socio-technical systems and processes,
- take serious public concerns about potential risks and unintended side effects,
- respond to public demands for participation and implement these in a meaningful way,
- shape and govern socio-technical change in a responsible, sustainable, democratic and just manner.
ZIRIUS confronts these challenges and provides a platform for academic and public debates on how to shape sociotechnical futures.
Against this background, the mission and the objectives of ZIRIUS are to
- study and compare in detail the developments and trajectories of innovations in various areas within their respective contexts,
- explore, analyze and improve formats and procedures of risk and technology assessment and citizen and stakeholder participation and evaluate the pros and cons of different formats,
- provide and further develop concepts, methods and strategies for studying effective citizen participation,
- inform and facilitate debates on responsible ways of dealing with risk and uncertainty.