After nine weeks of engaging with theoretical details on innovation, participation, and responsibility within co-creation, TUM and Imperial students presented their interpretation of SCALINGS cases, matching theoretical STS with the
practical.

At the origins of the SCALINGS project was the idea to transform the proposed research projects into an interdisciplinary, trans-institutional education experience. On 14 April, that idea became reality as the Co-Creation Lab, offered to master’s students from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Imperial College London (ICL). On 9 June 2021, this group of students from different academic backgrounds presented their SCALINGS cases to one another, resulting in an impressive interpretation of each case.

The Co-Creation Lab was initiated by Professor Sebastian Pfotenhauer (TUM), who also coordinated the SCALINGS project. The Co-creation lab was developed as part of a further joint project by the TUM and ICL SCALINGS units, “Co-creative learning for engineering and robotics innovation”. The teaching and preparation staff included Benjamin Lipp (TUM), Carlos Cuevas (TUM), Giovanni Viscusi (ICL), Federica Pepponi (TUM), Anja Rueß (TUM), Julia Renninger (TUM), Carmen Bozga (TUM), Manuel Jung (TUM) and Jenny Graner (TUM). This group spent countless hours discussing the best and most creative ways to teach STS theory and SCALINGS case dissemination for a young and hungry audience. 

The course consisted of eight three-hour sessions, divided into an hour-and-a-half theory section, where Science and Technology Studies (STS) theory was presented by the research fellows at TUM and ICL (Lipp, Cuevas, Viscusi). During the second half of the teaching block, students chose which case study most fit their interests, and the plenary group dispersed to engage in in-depth discussions, evaluations, empirical work, and interactive activities related to the case with their mentors (Lipp, Cuevas, Rueß, Renninger, Bozga, Graner). The five cases chosen for further work and dissemination were: 

  • PDTI Healthcare based in Spain
  • PDTI Sewer Inspection Robots based in Spain
  • Smart Grid Pioneers: SoLAR based in Germany
  • Smart City Ulm – Mobility Station based in Germany
  • Digibus(R) based in Austria 

Each mentor offered their students case-specific activities, materials, and exercises to allow students the opportunity to (1) learn the case, and (2) explore it further, engaging with current materials and participants from the project. This allowed students to take STS theory and place it in the context of modern European case studies. 

It was this practical approach that was most beloved by the 25 participating students from TUM and ICL. Students appreciated and liked working with people from different backgrounds, working with students from different institutions, and enjoyed the pairing of theoretical discussions with real-life projects. 

At the end of the course, each group presented their interpretation of their case study in the plenary session, connecting their learnings to the theory taught, and offering their ideas for further development. The presentations were recorded and sent to a graphic artist, Vasiliki Mitropoulou, who created a creative graphic summary interpretation of each presentation. The successful results of this course will be used as elements of a new EU project,  BoostEuroTeQ, as well as future courses planned with the Co-Creation Lab design in mind. The success of this course will continue to open many opportunities for further interdisciplinary and trans-institutional collaboration in rich practical experiences for master’s students at TUM, ICL, and beyond.

Author: Jenny Graner, TUM