Boulevard Future

Technology and its consequences


The registration takes place via RWTH Online and is possible until October 3rd. Further information about the registration process can be found in our FAQ.

All students can participate in a course. You can choose two preferences. For this, please use priorities 1 (highest) and 2 (second highest). Click here for an example. Please think carefully about how you indicate your priorities. It is not possible to re-register. If you have not been assigned a place in the project after the end of the assignment and are still interested in participating, please contact directly.

(If you have any problems with the registration or with RWTHonline, please contact Mrs. Sibel Yildirim (IPW), also stating your matriculation number: Ms Yildrim will be availbale from October 3rd for problems with the registration process. Manual registration during the registration period is not possible.)

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Academic Responsibility

Univ.-Prof. i.R. Dr.-Ing. Ernst Schmachtenberg

Rektor em. RWTH Aachen

Univ.-Prof. Dr. phil. Stefan Böschen

Chairholder for the research and teaching field “Society and Technology” at HumTec

Univ.-Prof. Emer. Dr. phil. Max Kerner

Chair for Medieval History at the Department of History

Contact Person





Thursday, 6:30-8:00 pm


Digital (Zoom)


Never has technology shaped our society more than in present days. The disruptive innovations (leap innovations) that occur are significantly involved in this development. The term “disruptive innovation” describes successful leaps in the development of technology. The characteristic of disruption results from the use of new findings from basic research, which allow technical solutions to be thought of in a completely new way or even completely new technology to be developed. One example of such a disruptive innovation is the internet, which enables us to access knowledge anywhere in the world through the use of smartphones and other devices. These technologies can topple dictators (Arab Spring), but they can also create the ’transperent human’.

Such unpredictable leap innovations no longer seem to be the exception – but rather seem to be occurring more frequently in recent times. Two different development paths can be identified: the leap innovation arises from new research findings or it arises from a need situation, justified by the disadvantages of existing technologies in the search for a new solution using new scientific findings. In spite of the great diversity of various leap innovations, a common feature emerges: each of these leap innovations is based on new findings from research and in many ways, this research always began at universities.

It is the objective of this lecture to think about this cosmos of research, development and innovation together with its growing consequences for mankind. On the basis of selected examples of significant leap innovations, the path from the underlying research efforts to the technological developments required for realization to application and the associated changes in our living conditions will be considered in an interdisciplinary manner. The following guiding questions will be discussed:

  • What does this leap innovation mean for the users (individually / collectively)?
  • What contribution does the underlying research make to society and what image of society is guiding the research?
  • What efforts in development and production are required to turn the idea of a leap innovation into reality?
  • What are the expected side effects of the leap innovation and are these predictable at all?
  • If this leap innovation becomes real, what “next society” will it produce?

Each of the leap innovations considered in each case will be addressed in a lecture from two perspectives: The efforts in research and development will be examined in more detail to get an impression of the feasibility and the associated time horizon. Furthermore, the expected effects on individuals, society and the environment will be analyzed and discussed. The series of events consists of four thematic blocks and is supplemented by an introductory event, a 2nd introductory event, in which the example of the generation of electrical energy is used to illustrate the innovation process over a longer period and a final lecture. The introductory event serves to introduce the series and assigns work packages to the student participants for the development of questions and for the documentation of the lecture.

Learning Outcomes

Students should learn from this course to assess leap innovations and to be able to derive conceivable consequences from them.


Information material on the covered leap innovations (lectures 3-6) is made available in the corresponding learning space. This takes the form of on-demand lectures, popular science publications and podcasts. Furthermore, material on the respective researchers and their personalities will be made available. This is intended to give each participant the opportunity to obtain comprehensive information about the respective leap innovation in advance.

The 90-minute sessions will thus be used exclusively for two short presentations in which the perspectives for technical feasibility and the foreseeable social consequences will be presented (2 x 15 minutes). The remaining time is used for a moderated and prepared discussion (questionnaire) with students.

04.11.2021 at 18:30

Introductory event

with Prof. Schmachtenberg, Prof. Böschen and Prof. Kerner
Project “Leonardo”

18.11.2021 at 18:30

Innovation cycles in the generation of electrical energy and their social reception

Univ.-Prof. De Doncker, Institute Director of the Chair and Institute for Converter Technology and Electrical Drives and Univ.-Prof. Elke Seefried, Head of the Chair for Modern History (19th-21st century) with their knowledge and technology cultures

02.12.2021 at 18:30

The universal energy store

Univ.-Prof. Stefan Pischinger, Head of the Chair of Internal Combustion Engines and Niklas von der Aßen, Professor as Junior Professor Sustainable Life Cycles in Energy at the Chair of Technical Thermodynamics

16.12.2021 at 18:30

The neuromorphic computer

Univ.-Prof. Christian Lemme, Head of the Chair of Electronic Devices and Univ.-Prof. Saskia Nagel, Head of the Chair of Applied Ethics

Winter Break

13.01.2022 at 18:30

Remote Controlling of Biological Systems

Univ.-Prof. Andreas Herrmann, Chair of the Institute of Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry and Univ.-Prof. Stefan Böschen Head of the Chair of Technology and Society

27.01.2022 at 18:30

Artificial organs from endogenous cells

Univ.-Prof. Thomas Schmitz-Rode, Head of the Institute for Applied Medical Technology and Univ.-Prof. Dominik Groß, Head of the Chair for History, Theory and Ethics of Medicine

03.02.2022 at 18:30

Final event, presentations and discussion of the students

Univ.-Prof. Ernst Schmachtenberg together with Univ.-Prof. Böschen and Univ.-Prof. Kerner will conclude the course and work on final discussions of the topic

Procedure/Working method​

Depending on the course of studies, module and examination, credit points can be achieved through participation.


Certificate of Participation (0 CP, not graded)
Questionnaire with analysis (2 CP, not graded)
Essay 15-20 pages (4 CP)

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