Headline: Digitalisation

Recent years have seen a proliferation of digital technologies throughout the economy and in everyday life. The challenges and opportunities presented by this development are the subject of increasing debate in the media, society, and the policy community. Prominent themes within these debates include the emerging challenges to privacy, the future of work and cyber-security as well as efforts to enhance efficiency, conserve resources and enhance economic growth. At present it remains uncertain whether and to what extent the digitalisation of communication, services, and industrial production will foster or impede transformations towards sustainable development.

What role can digital technologies play in the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals? How will the digitalisation of industrial production processes affect energy and resource use? How will it change the working environment? What effect do these new, digital forms of communication have on democratic participation processes? What opportunities and challenges does digitalisation present for developing countries and emerging economies? These questions lie at the heart of research relating to this topic at the IASS.

Using transdisciplinary research methods, these projects aim to provide robust scientific assessments of the impact of digital technologies and services. Our researchers will identify the potential risks and benefits of digital technologies for transformations towards sustainable economies and societies. The outcomes of this research will include scientific papers as well as recommendations for policymakers actors in the private sector, civil society and organisations for international cooperation.


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.

read more

Exploring the nexus of decentralized renewable energy supply and digital technologies for productive use in Africa

Access to affordable and clean electricity is a central ingredient for social and economic development in remote rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Digital technologies also play an increasingly important role in facilitating access to education, information, services and new opportunities for income generation. The project will explore the nexus of a decentralized energy supply and the use of digital technologies.

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more


Transdisciplinary Project to Investigate the Unintended Side Effects of Digitalisation

Digitalisation is changing how we live, but not only for the better: In addition to giving rise to new products, opportunities and services, it’s also having unintended side effects. The project “Digital Data as a Subject of Transdisciplinary Processes” (DiDaT) focuses on both the opportunities and the undesired consequences of digitalisation. It aims to identify and analyse side effects and make concrete proposals for coping with them. At an event to kick-start the project at the end of March, researchers and practitioners came together in Potsdam to define the main areas the project will focus on and outline potential solutions.

read more

Blog Posts

Industry 4.0 – taking efficiency to new heights?

The term Industry 4.0 has been bandied about increasingly since it was established in 2011. Also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 describes the growing use of digital technologies to link manufacturing technologies and facilitate continuous real-time data exchange. These manufacturing systems are based on interconnected cyber-physical systems with the capacity to independently organize and optimize their performance. Industry 4.0 promises to fundamentally transform manufacturing industry.

read more