In our research we employ mainly discursive methods of investigation. This means, that we use structured dialogue in order to systematically collect information about perspectives, arguments and values of social groups and individuals and include this information into our analyses (read more about this and our research goals and main areas of research).

Our research focuses on topics of:

  • Risk
  • Communication and participation
  • Building bridges between technology, science, and society


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Risk: Perception, Evaluation, Governance

DIALOGIK conducts conceptual work and empirical research in the field of risk governance. The concept of risk governance describes an integrated approach of dealing with risk, especially with complex, uncertain or controversial risks. Risk governance relates to the integration of different activities such as risk assessment, risk evaluation, risk management, and risk communication which for a long time often were dealt with in isolation. The approach adopted by DIALOGIK is an inclusive concept of risk governance that is inspired by the conviction that political, business, scientific, and civil society players can all make valuable contributions to the governance process.

DIALOGIK’s director, Ortwin Renn, has designed for the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC) an innovative integrative concept of Inclusive Risk Governance, which harmonizes existing risk analysis and governance approaches. Already for several years, this concept has been applied and tested in relation to various risk fields such as food safety, nanotechnology, or energy security.

DIALOGIK’s research on risk comprises studies dealing with particular components of risk governance such as risk perception, risk communication or the application of the precautionary principle in relation to specific risk fields. It further includes studies primarily aimed at making the integrative risk governance concept useful and fruitful for selected risk fields.

Section head:
Dr. Piet Sellke, sellke [at]


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Communication: Information, Dialogue, Participation

DIALOGIK carries out research about using information, dialogue and participation in planning and conflict handling concerning technical and other science-related decision-making. This research comprises projects which investigate communication and participation primarily as theoretical-analytical concepts or as a subject of empirical research aimed at developing options or recommendations for successful communication and participation. Then there are projects in which DIALOGIK conducts or evaluates participative dialogue processes, for instance regarding the development of concepts for climate protection or land-use.

DIALOGIK has experience with a variety of methods and techniques for investigating, developing and testing innovative communication and participation processes. These include formats such as group Delphi, focus groups, Open Space conferences or World Cafés as well as more complex methods of citizen participation including round tables, citizen panels, or mediation. In accordance with the respective topic, task, and context DIALOGIK creates tailor-made communication and participation concepts. Besides conception and design of communication and participation processes DIALOGIK assumes also the professional implementation of such processes.

A growing part of DIALOGIK‘s research deals with citizen and stakeholder engagement and participation in relation to profound societal transformation processes such as the energy transition or the transition of the transport sector. These transformation processes are usually characterized by the fact that overall policy goals have been set in political, ideally democratic processes, concrete steps for achieving the defined goals are, however, often lacking or it is very difficult to decide on them. DIALOGIK investigates transformation processes theoretically and empirically. Guiding principle is the catalytic effect of participative and discursive processes in the implementation of jointly agreed projects and initiatives. Particular focus is on the joint generation of transformative knowledge including scientific as well as experiential and practical knowledge (trans-disciplinary approach).

Section head:
Sarah-Kristina Wist, wist [at]


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Building Bridges: Technology, Science, Society

DIALOGIK carries out research about the interactions between science, technology, and society. Part of the research deals with the possibilities of knowledge transfer. On the one hand, this concerns the transfer of innovation and knowledge in the area of basic research to economy and society. On the other, it deals with questions regarding the diffusion of scientific and technical knowledge in the wider public, with a focus on children and young people. DIALOGIK develops and evaluates ideas, initiatives and projects of imparting scientific-technical knowledge to these and other target groups. Further it advises and helps projects and initiatives that seek to effectively communicate about current science and technology issues. Part of this advice is usually a thorough analysis of the social and cultural context.

Another part of DIALOGIK’s research consists in the exploration of both the basic concepts and institutional processes of technology assessment, including institutional routines and structures, patterns of public perceptions, response behavior and diffusion pathways. Projects of technology foresight or technology assessment deal with the implications of science and technology on society and the role that science and technology can play in possible future societal developments. The key question here is: What effects can be expected from scientific-technical development and how can this development be influenced positively?

Section head:
Sylvia Bomans, M.A., bomans [at]