The growing complexity of our world is making it increasingly difficult to anticipate and handle risks associated with technological development and social change. While the transitions we face today offer many benefits, they are also associated with tremendous risks. The group focuses on "systemic risks", which are characterised by high degrees of complexity and interdependency. Its research addresses questions such as: What are the risks posed by the growing ubiquity of digital technologies? What chain reactions could be triggered by financial crises? What are the impacts of social injustice? Which socio-psychological mechanisms influence the consumption patterns of end-users and how can sustainable behaviour be fostered? How has the precautionary principle been applied in the European Union and how can it be improved by stakeholder engagement? And what effect will interventions to cool the Earth's atmosphere (often referred to as climate engineering) have on the environment, the economy, and human health?
The group's research analyses the various interdependencies between technology, nature, and society with a particular focus on complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity. On the basis of this analysis, the researchers aim to identify common patterns and structural features of systemic risks. Last but not least, they seek to identify policy instruments and methods of governance with the capacity to alleviate systemic risks.