In his research Jürgen Renn studies, together with his group, structural changes in systems of knowledge. The aim is to develop a theoretical understanding of knowledge evolution, taking into account its epistemic, social and material dimensions. As groundwork for such a theoretical approach to the history of knowledge, he has been studying some of the great transformations of systems of physical knowledge, such as the origin of theoretical science in antiquity, the emergence of classical mechanics in the early modern period and the revolutions of modern physics in the early twentieth century. In addition to this longitudinal perspective on the evolution of knowledge, he and his collaborators have developed a transversal approach, studying dissemination and transformation processes of knowledge across cultural boundaries.
He has been engaged from the very start in the Digital Humanities and the Open Access Movement. He is a co-initiator of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities launched by the MPG in 2003 and has created together with his colleagues the Edition Open Access as an innovative book series. He has also been responsible for numerous major exhibitions on the history of science from Albert Einstein - Chief Engineer of the Universe to Archimede. Arte e scienza dell'invenzione.
Jürgen Renn is honorary professor for History of Science at both the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Freie Universität Berlin. He has taught at Boston University, at the ETH in Zurich and at the University of Tel Aviv. He has held visiting positions in Vienna, Bergamo, Pavia and at CalTech. He is a member of the Leopoldina as well as of further national and international scientific and editorial boards. In 2011 he won the Premio Anassilaos International. In 2014, he won the ESHS Neuenschwander Prize and the Premio Internazionale Marco & Alberto Ippolito and was awarded the Max Planck Communitas Award and the Francis Bacon Award.
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science