Ortwin Renn, Ph.D.


Phone: +49-(0)711-331 288 22 463
E-Mail: click here!

Professional Career:

  • 1951 Born in Schmidtheim, Germany
  • 1970-1978 University education in sociology, economics, and journalism (German diploma)
  • 1980 Ph.D. in Social Psychology (Dr. rer. pol.) (summa cum laude)
  • 1978-1986 Social Scientist in the Federal Research Center Juelich (Germany)
  • 1986-1992 Associate Professor of Environment, Technology, and Society at Clark University (Massachusetts, USA)
  • 1988-1990 Acting Director of the Center for Technology, Environment and Development (CENTED) at Clark University
  • 1992-1993 Visiting Professor of Environmental Sciences at the Swiss Institute of Technology Zurich (Switzerland)
  • 1993-2003 Member (from 1999-2003 Chair) of the Board of Directors at the Center of Technology Assessment in Stuttgart (Germany)
  • 2003-2012 Director of the“ Interdisciplinary Research Unit of Risk Governance and Sustainable Technology Development” at the University of Stuttgart (ZIRN)

Internal and External Positions:  

  • Since 2003 Director of the non-profit company DIALOGIK, a research institute for investigating communication and participation processes in environmental policy making.
  • Since 2016 Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany
  • Since 2012 Director of the Stuttgart Research Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies at the University of Stuttgart (ZIRIUS).
  • Since 1994 Full Professor and Chair of Environmental Sociology and Technology Assessment of Stuttgart University (Germany); currently on leave.
  • Since 2008 Adjunct professor for “integrated risk analysis” at Stavanger University (Norway).
  • Since 2009 Affiliate professorship at Beijing Normal University.
  • Since 2012 Co-director of the Helmholtz-Alliance: Future Infrastructures for Meeting Energy Demands. Towards Sustainability and Social Compatibility.

Awards and Honors:  

  • 2003: Outstanding Publication Award from the Environment and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association
  • 2004: “Fellow“: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • 2005: “Fellow”: Society for Risk Analysis (SRA)
  • 2007: “Distinguished Achievement Award” of the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA)
  • 2009: Honorary Doctorate from the Swiss Institute of Technology (Dr. sc. h.c.)
  • 2011: Honorary Distinguished Professorship of the Technical University Munich
  • 2012: Best Published Article in Risk Analysis 2012: Award by SRA
  • 2012: Third Place in National Competition for the Best University Instructor Award
  • 2012: „Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany” (Bundesverdienstkreuz Erster Klasse) in recognition of the scientific achievements in Germany and internationally

Academic Membership:

  • Senate of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (Berlin)
  • Management Board of the German National Academy of Technology and Science
  • European Academy of Science and Arts (Vienna and Salzburg)
  • National Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management of the People’s Republic of China (Beijing)

Ongoing Academic and Public Services (selection):

  • President: GAIA Association (Publishing Board of the Interdisciplinary Journal GAIA)
  • President: European Virtual Risk Institute (EUVRI)
  • Board of Trustees (Foundation: ”Environment and Disaster Prevention”)
  • Scientific Council of the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC), Geneva
  • State Commission for Sustainable Development (until 2012 chair)

Past Public and Academic Service (selection):

  • Expert panel on “Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making” of the U.S.-National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. (2005-2007)
  • Member of the Science and Technological Advisory Council to the President of the EU Commission
  • Chair: Ad hoc Federal Commission on the Institutional and Procedural Reform of Risk Management (2002-2004)
  • German Federal Advisory Council for Global Environmental Change (1996-2000)
  • Prime Minister's Future Commission in the State of Baden-Württemberg (1998-2000)
  • President of the European Society of Risk Analysis (SRA-Europe) (1998)
  • Member of the German Government’s Ethics Committee on the Future of Energy Supply (2011)
  • Expert Committee on Sustainability of the German Chancellor (2011-2012)


  • Author or co-author of 26 monographs
  • Co-author of 34 committee reports
  • Editor or co-editor of 32 edited volumes
  • More than 250 articles in journals and edited volumes (116 peer reviewed journal articles)

Major Interests:

  • Risk governance (assessment, management, communication)
  • Sustainable development (concept, social science perspective)
  • Public participation (theory and practical application)
  • Technology assessment and foresight (Methodology, conceptual issues, case studies)
  • Public responses to technological change (attitude research, modernization theory)

Most relevant publications (12):

  • Renn, O.: Towards a Socio-Ecological Foundation for Environmental Risk Research. In: S. Lockie, D. A. Sonnenfeld and D. R. Fisher (Eds.): Routledge International Handbook of Social and Environmental Change. London (Routledge 2014), pp. 207-220
  • Rosa, E.A.; Renn, O. and McCright, A. M.: The Risk Society Revisited. Social Theory and Governance. Philadelphia (Temple University Press 2014)
  • Renn, O.: Sustainability: The Need for Societal Discourse. In. O. Renn, A. Reichel und J. Bauer (eds.): Civil Society for Sustainability. A Guidebook for Connecting Science and Society. Bremen (Europäischer Hochschulverlag EHV 2012), S. 18-36
  • Aven, T. and Renn, O.: On the Risk Management and Risk Governance of Petroleum Operations in the Barents Sea Area. Risk Analysis, Vol. 32, No. 9 (2012), 1561-1575
  • Renn, O.: The Social Amplification/Attenuation of Risk Framework: Application to Climate Change, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. Vol. 1, Issue 1 (January/February 2011) DOI: 10.1002/wcc.99 (2011)
  • Renn, O.; Klinke, A. and van Asselt, M.: Coping with Complexity, Uncertainty and Ambiguity in Risk Governance: A Synthesis. AMBIO, Vol. 40, Issue 2 (2011), 231-246
  • Renn, O. and Schweizer, P.: Inclusive Risk Governance: Concepts and Application to Environmental Policy Making. Environmental Policy and Governance, No. 19 (2009), 174-185
  • Renn, O.: Risk Governance. Coping with Uncertainty in a Complex World. London (Earthscan 2008)
  • Renn, O. and Grobe, A.: Risk Governance in the Field of Nanotechnologies: Core Challenges of an Integrative Approach. In: G.A. Hodge; D.M. Bowman and A.D. Maynard (eds.): International Handbook on Regulating Nanotechnologies. Cheltenham and Northampton (Edward Elgar: 2010), pp. 484-507
  • Renn, O.: An Ethical Appraisal of Hormesis: Toward a Rational Discourse on the Acceptability of Risks and Benefits. American Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology 3(1) (2008), 168-184.
  • Sellke, P. and Renn, O.: Risk Governance of Pervasive Computing Technologies. The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2008), 215-224
  • Renn, O.: Risk Communication: Insights and Requirements for Designing Successful Communication Programs on Health and Environmental Hazards. In: R.L. Heath and H. Dan O’Hair (eds.): Handbook of Risk and Crisis Communication. London (Taylor and Francis 2008), pp. 80-98


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