Digitalization as a cross-cutting issue at the KU – conceptual framework for anchoring the topic of digitalization by participating in the federal states and government program for promoting young researchers (second approval round) in combination with the acquisition of additional W1 tenure track professorships.
The KU’s task over the upcoming years will be to place a greater focus on the opportunities and risks of digitalization in order to be able to embed these issues more firmly into the research and teaching practice and be able to analyze current changes in politics, economy and society that are caused by increased digitalization. On the one hand, it will be of crucial importance to establish a more extensive scientific connectivity and discourse capability and, on the other hand, to align the existing teaching and study offers so that they take greater account of these changing parameters. It will be the KU’s responsibility to develop and build its expertise and skills in this field, integrate these interdisciplinary cross-cutting issues in the existing range of subjects appropriately and thus ensure connectivity of its academic teaching and research profile to important social and scientific discourses.
Especially as a university with a pronounced profile in social and economic sciences and the humanities which is rooted in the Christian view of human life, the KU has a particular responsibility to put technological progress in relation to social change, to point out possible tension fields, to identify potential risks and challenges and to develop a contribution to a human-centered digital society from a scientific perspective.
Against this backdrop, current and future effects of digitalization processes on nature and environment, humans, our professional lives and social co-existence etc. must be investigated and reflected on. Weighing up opportunities and risks, a central task will also be to develop approaches for a beneficial use of digital technologies, to ensure inclusion and participation in the opportunities offered by new digital technologies and to contribute to shaping social co-existence under the framework conditions of digitalization in a constructive, fair and socially balanced way. This also includes giving as many KU students as possible the opportunity to acquire a fundamental understanding of the operating modes and interrelationships between use and impact of new digital technologies. This aspiration shall not only enable students to develop a reflected approach to new digital technologies but also seeks to increase competitiveness of KU graduates embarking on their careers– both for professional paths in research and science contexts and beyond.
The aim is to anchor the topic of digitalization as an interdisciplinary issue in as many KU subject areas as possible more firmly by simultaneously taking into account the autonomy, relevance and methodological sovereignty of individual, different subject cultures. The awareness for the opportunities offered by digitalization must be increased and perceived as a chance of bringing different subject areas closer together.
Research and teaching at the interface of digitalization
The professorships that are to be acquired additionally for a period of approx. six years in the context of the tenure track program will make an important contribution to incorporate digital issues more widely at the KU and to enrich the research and teaching practice and knowledge transfer at the KU in this respect. By continuously expanding on its scientific expertise at the interface between digital technology and society, the KU can develop into an attractive collaboration partner both at a national, but in particular also at an international level: Like this, the KU will be given the opportunity to assume a new role as a mediator between technological progress and society by ensuring that technological development does not remain a mere end in itself, but always focuses on humans and their needs.
The early-career professorships with a focus on digitalization will complement each other and will be connected in a digitalization cluster across faculties and subject areas in order to stimulate academic discussion in the field. The integration into the KU faculties and the exchange with established KU researchers on the one hand, and a targeted promotion of dialog between these new professorships on the other hand should open up new approaches to the topic of digitalization within the field of social sciences, economics and the humanities. Approaching questions that will be jointly developed from this will advance the research and teaching practice at the KU as a whole and induce more differentiated statements on current socio-political challenges and developments. This discourse will then flow into the planned central research clusters and institutes at the KU to enrich their work.