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FAU opens new interdisciplinary research centre

Close-up photograph of the microchips and micro-electronic components on a blue circuit board

Researchers work together to tackle pressing issues facing society

Digitalisation, climate change, ageing populations – these are some of the challenges facing us now and in the future. FAU researchers from a range of disciplines have made it their mission to combat them. The new Center for Management, Technology and Society (CMTS) supports and co-ordinates work on developing practical solutions through interdisciplinary research.

No simple answers

In order to deal with the complex issues of our time, they first have to be understood. This requires the involvement of various different, highly specialised disciplines that each apply their own research methods. Findings from collaborative projects involving experts from engineering, business and economics, and the humanities and social sciences can then be used to develop comprehensive practical solutions.

In light of this, the main role of CMTS is to provide a platform for collaboration in research, teaching and knowledge transfer. ‘As FAU covers the entire spectrum of academic disciplines with its five faculties, it’s in a particularly good position to implement such an interdisciplinary approach,’ says CMTS co-ordinator Prof. Dr. Markus Beckmann. ‘CMTS is kept going by the hard work that its researchers do voluntarily. For this reason, its role is to provide inspiration and act as a host, rather than set the pace,’ he explains.

CMTS aims to make opportunities for collaboration and collaborative projects more visible, bring them together in one place and create a research network, while also identifying current issues and developing them into new projects. Another of its goals is to prepare young researchers for interdisciplinary work, advise and support experts from different subjects as they collaborate, and disseminate results among the public.

It also offers specific presentations, workshops and meetings to give FAU researchers more opportunities to meet and exchange results, and provides support for collaborative research projects and proposals on specific topics. CMTS is gaining attention not only as a platform for free and open dialogue but also as a centre with unique potential for interdisciplinary collaboration. In addition, it aims to offer interdisciplinary teaching and research discussions and stimulate dialogue with industry and entrepreneurs in the future.

We spoke to Prof. Dr. Markus Beckmann, Chair of Corporate Sustainability Management, about CMTS:

How did the idea for CMTS come about?

FAU researchers have been collaborating with colleagues outside their own disciplines on specific problems for many years. While there are many such projects at FAU, there was no centralised place that made them visible, brought them together and supported them. During the discussions on how the former AEG site could be used, researchers from the School of Business and Economics, the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology, and the Faculty of Engineering had the idea of creating such a location, which would be both an open and diverse virtual platform and a physical place with its own events and rooms.

So far most of the researchers involved are from the Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Business, Economics, and Law, and the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology – can other subjects join too? And if so, is there a particular subject that you would like to join?

Of course other subjects are very welcome! That’s exactly what CMTS is about: making productive interdisciplinary collaboration the norm and investigating new territory together. Personally I’m very pleased that the first projects involving researchers from the natural sciences are already being set up. As a professor of corporate sustainability management, I know that the overlap between technology, management and society is increasing and playing a more and more important role in areas like ecology too – particularly when it comes to issues like climate change, emissions and biodiversity. And social challenges like demographic change are of course the ideal areas for potential collaboration with medicine.

Why is theology, in particular, involved?

Excellent question! It may seem surprising at first that theologists play such a key role in this kind of research centre, but when you consider it in more detail it makes a lot of sense. Interdisciplinary research might not seem like a ground-breaking concept at first but it’s very powerful. It’s essentially about looking at the world from a different perspective and understanding how to deal with different approaches to reality. Theology has a long tradition of investigating this and the theologists are of course concerned with dealing with current social issues, such as in the German Ethics Council, which one of CMTS’s members is closely involved with.

Further information:

www.cmts.fau.de

Prof. Dr. Markus Beckmann
Phone: +49 911 5302651
markus.beckmann@fau.de