Developments in Industry 4.0 are set to shape the sustainability of the working world.
Developments in Industry 4.0 are set to shape the sustainability of the working world. istock/denizbayram

Headline: Digitalisation & Sustainability

Thirty years after the invention of the World Wide Web, digital technologies are now commonplace in almost every aspect of society and global region. But along with their many benefits, digital technologies also present a variety of challenges and interlinking risks for both people and the natural environment. To date, these risks have not been discussed in depth by policymakers, citizens, and researchers. Against this background, the research group "Digitalisation & Sustainability" studies how the digital transformation can be shaped to ensure it supports transitions towards more sustainable societies. The impacts of digitalisation in industry and the economy are a particular focus of this research. Among other things, IASS researchers are investigating how digital technologies are changing resource consumption in industrial manufacturing and how their application can support corporate sustainability management. Their research also addresses the unintended side-effects of digital data flows and the associated challenges in various economic sectors. In addition, the research group examines the impact of the digital transformation on economic and social development in countries of the Global South and explores options for action to ensure that socio-technical transformation processes foster sustainable development and social justice. As an interdisciplinary team, the research group approaches these issues from a technical, economic, social, and environmental science perspective. The respective disciplinary methods employed within the group are complemented by transdisciplinary research approaches that actively involve stakeholders from the field. In addition to scientific publications, the group develops options for action for policymakers, business and civil society, and organises specialist and discussion events.


Digitalisation and Impacts on Sustainability

Is the digital revolution contributing to efforts to achieve the United Nations sustainable development goals? How is it changing the way companies manage their resources? And is it deepening or reducing global inequalities? In this project, researchers assess the potentials and risks of digitalisation in sustainability transformations and develop options for a sustainable digitalisation process.

Junior Research Group ProMUT: Sustainability Management 4.0 - Transformative Potentials of Networked Manufacturing for Humans, the Environment and Technology

The current proliferation of digital technologies and emergence of digitized and interconnected production processes (Industry 4.0) mark the beginning of a phase of fundamental transformation in the manufacturing industry. The environmental impacts of these new technical solutions have been largely ignored in the debate on this issue. The ProMUT research project investigates new digital approaches to improve corporate social responsibility with respect to both personnel and the environment.

Digital Data as Subject of Transdisciplinary Processes (DiDaT)

Digitalisation is changing our lives and bringing fundamental change to many domains, including both benefits and unwanted side effects. The challenge for sustainability research is to anticipate and identify the "unintended side effects" of the digital transition and to develop strategies that enable societies to cope with them properly. The DiDaT project will analyse and appraise the vulnerabilities of different stakeholder groups in a transdisciplinary dialogue between science and practice.

Sustainability in a Digitalized Industry: a Comparative Study from China, Germany and Brazil

The increasing integration of physical and digital networks within industrial production processes holds potentials for efforts to achieve social and ecological sustainable development goals. But under what circumstances is this emergent model likely to advance or impede efforts to achieve greater sustainability? This project aims to improve our understanding of the sustainability potentials of Industry 4.0.

Completed Projects

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