Personal Profile

Jürgen Renn

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Renn is Director at the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology in Jena (MPIGEA) and at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (MPIWG). His research concerns the long-term developments of knowledge in consideration of processes of globalization and the historical dynamics that led to the Anthropocene. The focus of his research is to understand the co-evolutionary system created by the addition of the technosphere—the totality of the human-constructed material environment—to the Earth system. In close cooperation with researchers from within and outside MPIGEA, his department explores the structural transformation of the technosphere by combining historical perspectives and studies with analysis and modeling of the behavior of complex adaptive systems and investigating opportunities for intervention.

In over two decades at the MPIWG, his numerous research projects in knowledge development in relation to different cultures and historical periods have opened up new approaches, especially in the digital humanities.

Jürgen Renn has authored, co-authored, and edited over 60 books, 140 book chapters, and over 70 articles on topics ranging from the history of mechanics in antiquity and the early modern period to quantum physics and the theory of general relativity. His most recent monograph looks at the role of knowledge in global historical transformations, and explores how this knowledge can help us to confront the complexities of the Anthropocene age.

He is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the International Academy of the History of Science, and was elected Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In recognition of his significant contributions to the history of science, Jürgen Renn has received numerous awards, including The Gustav Neuenschwander Prize, the Francis-Bacon Award and the Medaglia Commandiniana. Most recently, he was awarded Honorary Doctorates by Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University Jerusalem for his contributions to the history and philosophy of science.

Go to Editor View