Prof. Dr. Ortwin Renn

Ortwin Renn

Scientific Director


+49 331 2282 2463
renn [at]

Professional focus

  • Sustainable development
  • Transdisciplinary research methodology
  • Risk analysis, communication and governance
  • Stakeholder and public participation
  • Technology assessment and foresight with focus on energy systems

Professional experience and qualifications

Internal and External Positions

  • Since 2003: Scientific Director of DIALOGIK.  
  • Since 2016: Scientific Director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam
  • Since 1994: Full Professor and Chair of Environmental Sociology and Technology Assessment of Stuttgart University (Germany).
  • Honorary professorships at Stavanger (Norway), Beijing (China) and Munich (Germany)

Professional Career

  • 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 at 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)
  • 2012-2016 Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Research at the University of Stuttgart (ZIRIUS)
  • 2013-2016 Dean of the Department of Economic & Social Sciences (University of Stuttgart)

Awards and Honors

  • 2020: Honorary Doctorate for outstanding academic contributions to risk and sustainability governance from the Mid-Sweden University
  • 2018: Medal of Honor awarded by the State of Baden-Württemberg for outstanding scientific and public services to the State
  • 2017: Outstanding Research Award of the International Society for Integrated Disaster and Risk Management (IDRiM)
  • 2013: „Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany” (Bundesverdienstkreuz Erster Klasse) in recognition of the scientific achievements in Germany and internationally
  • 2012: Best Published Article in Risk Analysis 2012: Award by SRA
  • 2012: Third Place in National Competition for the Best University Instructor Award
  • 2011: Honorary Distinguished Professorship of the Technical University Munich
  • 2009:  Honorary Doctorate from the Swiss Institute of Technology (Dr. sc. h.c.)
  • 2007:  “Distinguished Achievement Award” of the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA)
  • 2005: “Fellow”: Society for Risk Analysis (SRA)
  • 2004: „Fellow“: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Academic Membership

  • Member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (Berlin)
  • Member of the Leopoldina, German National Academy of Sciences
  • Management Board of the German National Academy of Technology and Science (Acatech)
  • 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)

Academic and Policy Oriented Activities (selection)

  • Chair of the Sustainability Council of the German State of Baden Württemberg
  • Chair and moderator of the Brandenburg Sustainability Platform For Civil Society Initiatives
  • Chair of the Scientific Council for Citizen Assemblies on Climate Change Policies in Germany
  • President of the „European Virtual Risk Institute“  Stuttgart
  • President of the Association GAIA  (publisher of the Journal GAIA)
  • Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Technical University Berlin
  • Chair of the Jury for the Science Award of Northern Germany
  • Chair of the Societal Advisory Board „High End Computing and Simulation“ at Stuttgart University
  • Member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Climate Change Platform of the German Federal Government
  • Foundation Board of the International Risk Governance Council, Swiss Institute of Technology, Lausanne
  • Commission for Ecology and Society of the German Catholic Bishops‘ Conference
  • Sustainability Board of the Porsche Car Manufacturing Company

Past Public and Academic Service (selection)

  • President of the European Society of Risk Analysis (SRA-Europe) (1998)
  • German Federal Advisory Council for Global Environmental Change (1996-2000)
  • Prime Minister's Future Commission in the State of Baden-Württemberg (1998-2000)
  • Chair: Ad hoc Federal Commission on the Institutional and Procedural Reform of Risk Management (2002-2004)
  • 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 German Government’s Ethics Committee on the Future of Energy Supply after Fukushima (2011)
  • Expert Committee on Sustainability of the German Chancellor (2011-2012)
  • President: International Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) from 2013-2014
  • Board of Trustees of the Foundation: Environment and Disaster Prevention
  • Member of the President’s Science and Technological Advisory Council to the President of the EU Commission (2014-2015)


  • Author or co-author of 30 monographs
  • Co-author of 34 committee reports
  • Editor or co-editor of 25 edited volumes
  • More than 350 articles in journals and edited volumes (230 peer reviewed journal articles)
  • Hirsch Factor (Google): 81

Selected publications


  • Renn, O.; Ulmer, F. und Deckert, A.: The Role of Public Participation in Energy Transitions. London (Elsevier Academic Press: 2020)
  • Renn, O.: Public and Stakeholder Involvement in Risk Governance. Ark Publications: London 2014
  • Rosa, E.A.; Renn, O. and McCright, A. M.: The Risk Society Revisited. Social Theory and Governance. Philadelphia (Temple University Press: 2014)
  • Renn, O.: Risk Governance. Coping with Uncertainty in a Complex World. London (Earthscan 2008)

Peer Reviewed Articles

  • Renn, O.; Beier, G. and Schweizer, P.-J.: The opportunities and risks of digitalization for sustainable development: a systemic perspective. GAIA, 30,1 (2021), S. 23-28
  • Collins, Aengus; Florin, Marie-Florentin und Renn, Ortwin: COVID-19 risk governance: drivers, responses and lessons to be learned. Journal of Risk Research, 2, 3 (2020), DOI:10.1080/13669877.2020.1760332
  • Renn, O.; Chabay, I.; van der Leeuw, S.  and Droy. S.: Beyond the Indicators: Improving Science, Scholarship, Policy and Practice to Meet the Complex Challenges of Sustainability. Sustainability, 12, 578 (2020). Doi:10.3390/su12020578
  • Klinke, A. and Renn, O.: The Coming Age of Risk Governance. Risk Analysis, Vol. 41, No. 3 (2019), 544-557 DOI:10.1111/risa.13383
  • Aven, T. and Renn, O.: Improving Government Policy on Risk: Eight Key Principles. Reliability Engineering & Safety, 1 (2018),
  • Lucas, K.; Renn, O. and Jaeger, C.: Systemic Risks: Theory and Mathematical Modeling. Advanced Theory and Simulations, 4 (August 2018),
  • Renn, O.: Systemic Risks: The New Kid on the Block, Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 58:2 (2016), pp. 26-36
  • Renn, O: Stakeholder and Public Involvement in Risk Governance. Internatonal Journal for Disaster Risk Science, Vol.6, Issue 1 (2015), pp. 8-20
  • 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
  • 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), 154–169
  • 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.; Jaeger, A.; Deuschle, J. and Weimer-Jehle, W.: A Normative-Functional Concept of Sustainability and its Indicators. Int. J. Global Environmental Issues, Vol. 9, No. 4, 2009, 291-317
  • Renn, O.: Science and Technology Studies: Experts and Expertise. In: N. J. Smelser and P. B. Baltes (eds.): International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Volume 20. Cambridge, US (Cambridge University Press: 2001), pp. 13647-1365