194.082 Technology for People 2040
This course is in all assigned curricula part of the STEOP.
This course is in at least 1 assigned curriculum part of the STEOP.

2024S, VU, 2.0h, 3.0EC


  • Semester hours: 2.0
  • Credits: 3.0
  • Type: VU Lecture and Exercise
  • Format: Hybrid

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of the course, students are able to

  • analyse megatrends of our time, understand what we can learn from our past and argue possible consequences for the future of our society.
  • creatively develop and write down own scenarios for our society in 2040; criticise these scenarios and explain the consequences for the own field of study and especially for their own future role as scientists our professionals.
  • analyse literature in an interdisciplinary way with other students, explain and demonstrate their findings.
  • apply system thinking on complex problems in their own discipline and appoint specific mechanism and behaviours of complex systems.
  • demonstrate the difference between prediction and scenario development; depict the limits of predictability in complex systems and infer the consequences on management and leadership styles.


Subject of course

Science, technology and society are intertwined. Science and technology formed the foundation of our modern society and will play an even bigger part in a world with 9 to 11 billion people on this planet.  The pivotal role of science and technology in the development and advancement of our societies is undeniable. However, our very livelihoods are now under threat by the unintended consequences of technology, growing inequalities, and an economy whose growth is coupled with environmental degradation.

Of the nine planetary boundaries, which define a “safe operating space for humanity”, some have already been critically exceeded: climate change, biosphere integrity, biogeochemical flows and land system change.

Other innovations such as artificial intelligence, automation and digitalisation will have profound impacts on all aspects of our lives, work, the way we govern our societies and conduct wars. Synthetic biology, nanotechnology, new materials and production technologies could fundamentally change the way we interact with the physical and biological world.

All of these technologies provide significant opportunities, but also threats.

In this lecture we will be discussing the mega trends that we should be mindful of, and how we could envision a positive future in which technology and science serve humanity. To fulfil that vision, what should be our contribution and our responsibility as future scientists and engineers, as managers and as members of society?

Finally, what do we expect from alumni of a technical university in the 21st century? Technical excellence is certainly required, however we should reach for more:

  • critical thinking and assessment of the consequences of technology, especially in own field of work
  • focusing on important and meaningful areas for society: are the best people working on the most important problems? what is your contribution? where do you contribute the most?
  • ability to communicate own expertise and consequences of technology with non-experts, management and other stakeholder
  • capability to lead, manage and motivate teams and co-workers even under very challenging conditions

Teaching methods

In this lecture knowledge is acquired in the following ways:

  • online lectures and discussions
  • classroom discussions
  • reading and research assignments of selected sources
  • recording of presentations by participants
  • constructive criticism of thesis of other participants and the lecturer
  • optional: creation of podcast episode(s)

Mode of examination


Additional information

Lecture and discussions are in German. Term paper can be written in German or English.

As the lecture is held online – due to Covid-19 restrictions, the following requirements have to be met: every participant has to have

  • Desktop computer or notebook with webcam
  • Zoom-software installed
  • Headset (!) – at least a smartphone headset with headphones and microphone

Podcast: https://podcast.zukunft-denken.eu

Lecturer Homepage: http://www.schatten.info



Examination modalities

Marking follows a sum of different activities

  • participation in discussions
  • classroom presentations of findings and scenarios
  • constructive criticism of thesis of other participants and the lecturer
  • term paper and scenario development

Course registration

Begin End Deregistration end
19.02.2024 06:00 04.03.2024 23:00 06.03.2024 12:00

Registration modalities

Bitte Dokument: »Motivation, Ablauf und Beurteilung« gündlich lesen!!


Study CodeObligationSemesterPrecon.Info
066 445 Mechanical Engineering Not specified
TRS Transferable Skills Not specified


No lecture notes are available.

Previous knowledge

No specific prior knowledge is expected. What is expected though is interest to engange with main challenges and opportunities of our time in an interdisciplinary way and the willingness to actively contribute.


  • Attendance Required!