Director Jürgen Renn

Jürgen Renn’s research focuses on the long-term evolution of knowledge in consideration of the historical dynamics that led to the global changes encapsulated by the concept of the Anthropocene. In almost three decades as Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, his numerous research projects have opened up new approaches, especially in the digital humanities. As Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology, he investigates, together with his team, the structural changes in the technosphere that have given rise to the Anthropocene.

His central research topics include the history of science from antiquity to the 21st century, the history of the globalization of knowledge, the role of knowledge in global change processes, and the recent history of scientific institutions, particularly the Max Planck Society from its foundation to the present day. His additional research interests include the history of architectural knowledge and the circulation of knowledge between Arabic and Latin language areas, as well as between Europe and China. Based on his research, he has developed a theory of knowledge evolution that incorporates both cognitive dynamics and social contexts. Jürgen Renn has actively promoted the communication of scientific knowledge through numerous exhibitions, newspaper articles, television reports, and interviews. Additionally, he is deeply engaged in sustainability discussions at the intersection of science and politics.

He has received Honorary Doctorates from Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His contributions to the history of science were honored, among others, by the Francis Bacon Award, the Gustav Neuenschwander Prize, the Medaglia Commandiniana, and the Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics. His engagement for Open Access was honored by the PIRELLI International Award and the Max Planck Communitas Prize. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Corresponding Member of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, and a Foreign Associate in the Class of Physical, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arte in Venice.

Jürgen Renn has been a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina since 2008.

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