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Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti - Testata per la stampa

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Jürgen Renn

Jürgen Renn
Director Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

- s.c.r. eletto il 15 luglio 2021.

Jürgen Renn's research concerns the long-term developments of knowledge in consideration of processes of globalization and the historical dynamics that led to the Anthropocene. 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. His central research topics include the origins of science in Europe and China, and the development of mechanics from antiquity to the twentieth century, including knowledge exchanges between Arabic and Latin language areas as well as between Europe and China in the early modern period. Additional research interests include the history of architectural knowledge and the history of modern physics, particularly the theory of relativity and quantum theory. On the basis of this research, a theory of knowledge evolution has emerged that incorporates cognitive dynamics as well as social contexts. Jürgen Renn has promoted the communication of scientific knowledge through a multitude of exhibitions, newspaper articles, television reports, and interviews and is deeply engaged in sustainability discussions at the intersection of science and politics.
Academic and Professional Experience
Since 2019 Deputy Chair of the Human Sciences Section, Max Planck Society
2016-2019 Chair of the Human Sciences Section, Max Planck Society
Since 2019 Member Board of Directors Energy Systems of the Future (ESYS)
Since 2017 Vice-President International Academy for the History of Science
Since 2014 Member Programme Council of Futurium
Since 2012 Member General Assembly of the IASS Potsdam (on delegation of the President
of the Max Planck Society)
Since 2011 Member Board of Directors of the Berliner Antike Kolleg
Since 2009 Chair Scientific Board of the Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University
Since 2006 Honorary Professor for History of Science, Freie Universität Berlin
Since 1998 Adjunct Professor for Philosophy and Physics, Boston University
Since 1995 Honorary Professor for History of Science, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Since 1994 Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (Founding
1993-1994 Visiting Professor of Philosophy of Science (Chair substitution Paul Feyerabend),
ETH Zurich
1991-1996 Co-director, Arbeitsstelle Albert Einstein, Max Planck Institute for Human
Development and Educational Research, Berlin
1991 Co-founder of the international project group for the introduction of new
technologies of the History of Science supported by the National Science
Foundation and the Italian Ministry of Research
1990-1992 Associate of the Department of Physics, Harvard University
1989-1992 Assistant, then Associate Professor for Philosophy and Physics at Boston
1986-1992 Assistant, then Associate Editor of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein
1987 Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics, Technische Universität Berlin
1983-1986 Study and Research in Rome, Princeton, Paris
1983 Diploma (M.S.) in Physics, Freie Universität Berlin
German, English, Italian, French, Latin, Ancient Greek
Awards: Corresponding Member Deutsches Archäologisches Institut DAI (2019)
Medaglia Commandiniana (2018)
Fellow American Association for the Advancement of Science AAAS (2018)
Premio Internazionale Marco & Alberto Ippolito (2014)
Francis Bacon Award (2014)
Max Planck Communitas Prize (2014)
ESHS Gustav Neuenschwander Prize (2014)
Premio Anassilaos International (2011)
PIRELLI International Award (1998)
Fellowships and
Guest Professorships: Guest Professorship, University of Bergamo (2020)
Zeeman Fellow, Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences,
University of Amsterdam (2019)
NOMIS Scholar (2019)
Francis Bacon Visiting Professor, CalTech (2015)
Visiting Scholar, DK+ University of Vienna (2013)
Visiting Scholar, University of Pavia (2004)
Silverman Chair, Cohen Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and
Ideas an der Universität Tel Aviv (1993)
Visiting Scholar, Forschungsschwerpunkt Wissenschaftsgeschichte und
Wissenschaftstheorie der Gesellschaft für wissenschaftliche Neuvorhaben of the
Max Planck Society in Berlin (1992)
Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (1988-1989)
Fellow, Italian Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Rom (1988)
Fellow, Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Berlin (1988)
Fellow, Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (1983-86)

(Selection): Steering Committee Wissenschaftsplattform Nachhaltigkeit 2030 (since 2017)
American Association for the Advancement of Science AAAS (since 2015)
International Academy for the History of Science (since 2015)
Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (since 2003)
Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft DPG (since 1998)
Editorial work (selection)
Books: Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science (Springer Books / Series Editor, with Alisa Bokulich and Michela Massimi) Edition Open Access (Founding
Einstein Studies (Birkhäuser-Springer/Editorial Advisory Board)
History of Modern Science (Brill/Editor, with Massimilano Badino and Alexander Blum)
The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein (Princeton University Press, Former Editor)
Journals: Chinese Annals of History of Science and Technology (Chinese Academy of Science/Editor-in-Chief, with Zhang Baichun)
Archive for the History of Exact Science (Springer/Editorial Board)
Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences (Brepols/Vice-President, Academy Council)
The European Physical Journal, H (Springer/Editorial Board)
Science in Context (Cambridge/Editor, with Moritz Epple and Yossef Schwartz)
Living Reviews in Relativity (Springer/Former Editor)
Substantia. An International journal on History of Chemistry (Firenze University
Press/Scientific committee)
Funded Research Projects - selection
Project (funding)
2019 - 2021 Leonardo's Intellectual Cosmos, Exhibition (NOMIS Foundation, MPG)
2019 - Einstein-Zentrum Chronoi, Founding Member (Einstein Foundation)
2018 - 2021 BIFOLD-BZML Berlin Center for Machine Learning, PI (BMBF)
2015 - 2020 Convivencia - Iberian to Global Dynamics (500 - 1750), PI (MPG)
2014 - 2022 History of the Max Planck Society, Board of Directors (MPG)
2013 - 2014 Archimedes. Art and Invention - Science, Exhibition in co-operation with
Museo Galileo Florence (several Italian Sponsors, MPG)
2012 - 2024 CRC 980 Epistemes in Motion, in cooperation with Freie Universität Berlin, Project
Leader (DFG)
2010 - 2014 Probability in classical and quantum mechanics, PI (German Israeli Foundation)
2010 - 2011 Weltwissen, Exhibition, Co-organizer within the framework of the MPG (MPG,
several Sponsors)
2008 - 2018 Excellence Cluster TOPOI - The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge
in Ancient Civilizations, in cooperation with Freie Universität Berlin and der
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, BBAW, DAI and SPK, PI, (DFG)
2008 Max Planck - Revolutionär wider Willen, Exhibition (Deutsches Technikmuseum,
2006 - 2012 History and Foundations of Quantum Physics, in cooperation with Fritz-Haber-
Institut of the MPG (MPG)
2006 - 2010 Knowledge and Belief in Early Modern Science - Jesuits on Statics, Dynamics,
Mathematics and Astronomy between Galileo and Newton, PI (German Israeli
2005 - 2016 CRC 644 Transformations of Antiquity, Project Leader (DFG)
2002 - 2009 Epistemic History of Architecture, in cooperation with Bibliotheca Hertziana
Rome (MPG)
2002 - 2005 Albert Einstein - Ingenieur des Universums, and Einsteinjahr 2005, Exhibition
and Public relations project (MPS, BMBF, Siemens Foundation and others)
2002 - 2004 European Heritage Online Project ECHO, PI (EU, MPG)
2000 - Digital edition of the sources for the dome in Florence: The Years of the Cupola,
PI (Opera del Duomo, Florence, MPG)
2000 Pompeji - Natur, Wissenschaft und Technik in einer römischen Stadt,
Exhibition, in cooperation with Deutsches Museum München (DM München,
1998 - The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative CDLI (Co-Director, UCLA, Mellon
Foundation, IMLS, NSF, NEH, MPG)
1998-2003 Development of Mechanical Knowledge in China, Joint research project of the
partner group at the MPIWG and the Institute for the History of Natural
Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Science, PI (MPG)
1998 - 2005 ARCHIMEDES. Realizing the vision of an open digital research library for the
study of long-term developments in the history of mechanics, PI (DFG, NSF)
Publications (selection)
(full list: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons194294)The Evolution of Knowledge: Rethinking Science for the Anthropocene. Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 2020.
Einstein on Einstein: Autobiographical and Scientific Reflections. Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 2020. Co-author: Hanoch Gutfreund.
Science in Court Society: Giovanni Battista Benedetti's Diversarum speculationum mathematicarum et
physicarum liber (Turin, 1585). Sources: Max Planck Research Library in the History and
Development of Knowledge. Berlin: Edition Open Access, 2019. Co-author: Pietro
D. Omodeo.
Gespaltene Vernunft. Einstein - Fleck - Schlick. Berlin, Mattes & Seitz, 2018. Co-author: Olaf
Globalization of Knowledge in the Post-Antique Mediterranean, 700-1500. New York: Routledge,
2016. Co-author: Sonja Brentjes.
The Road to Relativity: The History and Meaning of Einstein's "The Foundation of General Relativity."
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015. Co-author: Hanoch Gutfreund. (Spanish
edition Tusquets Editores, 2017; Chinese edition, 2019.)
Das Anthropozän. Zum Stand der Dinge. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2015. Co-author: Bernd Scherer.
Wissensgeschichte der Architektur (3 volumes):
I: Vom Neolithikum bis zum Alten Orient
II: Vom Alten Ägypten bis zum Antiken Rom
III: Vom Mittelalter bis zur Frühen Neuzeit
Max Planck Research Library in the History and Development of Knowledge. Berlin: Edition
Open Access, 2014. Co-authors: Wilhelm Osthues, Hermann Schlimme
https://mprl-series.mpg.de/studies/3/index.htmlThe Genesis of General Relativity (4 volumes):
Bd. 1: Einstein's Zurich Notebook: Introduction and Source. Co-authors: Michel Janssen,
John Norton, Tilman Sauer, John Stachel.
Bd. 12: Einstein's Zurich Notebook: Commentary and Essays. Co-authors: Michel Janssen,
John Norton, Tilman Sauer, John Stachel.
Bd. 3: Gravitation in the Twilight of Classical Physics: Between Mechanics, Field Theory, and
Astronomy. Co-author: Matthias Schemmel.
Bd. 4: Gravitation in the Twilight of Classical Physics: The Promise of Mathematics. Co-author:
Matthias Schemmel.
(Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science, vol. 250). Dordrecht:
Springer, 2007.
Auf den Schultern von Riesen und Zwergen: Einsteins unvollendete Revolution. Berlin: Wiley-VCH,
2006. (Chinese edition Peking University Press, 2009; Italian edition Bollati
Boringhieri, 2012).
Participation in science policy statements
Leopoldina Ad hoc statement: Energy transition 2030: Europe's path to carbon neutrality
(June 2020). Published by the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina,
acatech - National Academy of Science and Engineering and the Union of the
German Academies of Sciences and Humanities.
Leopoldina Ad hoc statement: Coronavirus Pandemic - Sustainable Ways to Overcome the
Crisis (April 2020). Published by German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
Leopoldina Ad hoc statement: Climate targets 2030: Towards a sustainable reduction of CO2
emissions (2019). Published by National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina


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