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.

2020S, VU, 2.0h, 3.0EC


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

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:

  • classroom lectures
  • classroom discussions
  • reading and research assignments of selected sources
  • classroom 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.


Podcast: https://podcast.zukunft-denken.eu Lecturer Homepage: http://www.schatten.info



Course dates

Thu17:00 - 19:0012.03.2020 - 18.06.2020 on-lineLecture and Discussions
Technology for People 2040 - Single appointments
Thu12.03.202017:00 - 19:00 on-lineLecture and Discussions
Thu19.03.202017:00 - 19:00 on-lineLecture and Discussions
Thu26.03.202017:00 - 19:00 on-lineLecture and Discussions
Thu02.04.202017:00 - 19:00 on-lineLecture and Discussions
Thu23.04.202017:00 - 19:00 on-lineLecture and Discussions
Thu30.04.202017:00 - 19:00 on-lineLecture and Discussions
Thu07.05.202017:00 - 19:00 on-lineLecture and Discussions
Thu14.05.202017:00 - 19:00 on-lineLecture and Discussions
Thu28.05.202017:00 - 19:00 on-lineLecture and Discussions
Thu04.06.202017:00 - 19:00 on-lineLecture and Discussions
Thu18.06.202017:00 - 19:00 on-lineLecture and Discussions

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
04.03.2020 09:00 12.03.2020 12:00


Study CodeSemesterPrecon.Info
066 645 Data Science
TRS Transferable Skills


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.