New Endowed Professorship: Governance of Socio-Technical Transformation

Copyright: © Andreas Schmitter

Supported by the NEUMAN & ESSER Stiftung der Familie Peters, VUV-Vereinigte Unternehmerverbände Aachen, and Sparkasse Aachen, RWTH is establishing the new academic chair at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.


How can we responsibly manage the great transformations to the benefit of society? The introduction of technological innovations, in particular, needs to be carefully prepared in order for people to recognize their value. Against this backdrop, the endowed professorship Governance of Socio-Technical Transformation will now be established at the RWTH Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

The new professorship is jointly funded by the NEUMAN & ESSER Stiftung der Familie Peters, VUV-Vereinigte Unternehmerverbände Aachen, Sparkasse Aachen, and RWTH Aachen University.

"RWTH has been collaborating closely and successfully with these partners for several years, and we are pleased to extend this cooperation by establishing the endowed professorship. We look forward to the exciting research results that will undoubtedly be produced at the new academic chair,” said Professor Ulrich Rüdiger, the Rector of RWTH Aachen University. “Whether it's structural change in the Rhenish mining area or the latest smartphone technology – most of the new societal and technological developments and their impact on society and the individual are being investigated here at RWTH. The communication of innovations is an immensely important topic for all of us.”

The need for a comprehensive transformation to meet the challenges of sustainable developmentis recognized by politics, business, science, and society. In order to master these challenges, engineering students should be confronted with the topic of sustainability transformation as early as possible. “The transformation to a CO2-neutral future requires a holistic approach among engineering students and in society, and that’s why the NEUMAN & ESSER Stiftung der Familie Peters supports the establishment of the professorship,” said Wolfgang and Alexander Peters from the NEUMAN & ESSER Stiftung. The purpose of the foundation, which was established in 2007, is to promote science and research, culture, the protection of historical sites as well as preservation of local history, particularly of the Aachen industrial region.

Strengthening the Local Economy

According to the sponsors of the professorship, the academic study of this topic is important for the local economy. “In the face of climate change, new energy policies, the circular economy, digitalization, (de)globalization, and demographic change, companies are facing significant transformations. For this reason, it is important that research is being done on this important topic here in Aachen. It is also decisive that the specialists of tomorrow transfer their knowledge they have acquired at RWTH to regional companies, thus helping to strengthen their future competitiveness,” said Ralf Bruns, Managing Director of VUV-Vereinigte Unternehmerverbände Aachen. The VUV employers' association represents the interests of over 260 companies with more than 40,000 employees in the Aachen region.

Sparkasse Aachen also emphasizes the necessity for the further development of the region. “As a savings bank, we have always been concerned about promoting society and the common good – in addition to actually financing structural change. By supporting the endowed professorship, we contribute to retaining scientists in the Aachen region. These then have the opportunity to tackle the challenges of transformation. As a result, we are strengthening the economy in the Aachen region,” emphasizes Dr. Christian Burmester, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Sparkasse Aachen.

The new professorship will receive funding for a seven-year period. “Technological innovations are radically changing our society. The endowed professorship strengthens the Faculty of Arts Humanities in its research on socio-technical transformation processes as conducted, for example, at the Human Technology Center (HumTec) or in the Built and Lived Environment Research Area. Thus it supports RWTH in meeting its societal responsibilities,” said Professor Torsten H. Voigt, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at RWTH.