Jürgen Renn

Director
Department I
Dr., Professor, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Residence:
since 1. März 1994
Profile

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.

Selected publications

Renn, J. (2015). From the history of science to the history of knowledge – and back. Centaurus, 57(1), 37-53. doi:10.1111/1600-0498.12075. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1600-0498.12075

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Brentjes, S., & Renn, J. (Eds.). (2016). Globalization of knowledge in the post-antique Mediterranean, 700-1500. London [u.a.]: Routledge.

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Gutfreund, H., & Renn, J. (Eds.). (2015). Albert Einstein: Relativity, the special and the general theory, 100th anniversary edition. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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Gutfreund, H., & Renn, J. (2015). The road to relativity: the history and meaning of Einstein's “The Foundation of General Relativity”: featuring the original manuscript of Einstein’s masterpiece. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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Renn, J., & Rynasiewicz, R. (2014). Einstein's Copernican revolution. In M. Janssen, & C. Lehner (Eds.), The Cambridge companion to Einstein (pp. 38-71). New York: Cambridge University Press.

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Renn, J. (2014). The globalization of knowledge in history and its normative challenges. Rechtsgeschichte = Legal History, 22, 52-60. http://data.rg.mpg.de/rechtsgeschichte/rg22_052renn.pdf

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Baracca, A., Renn, J., & Wendt, H. (Eds.). (2014). The history of physics in Cuba. Dordrecht: Springer.

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Kant, H., & Renn, J. (2013). Forschungserfolge und ihre Voraussetzungen in der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft und Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. In T. Heinze, H. Parthey, G. Spur, & R. Wink (Eds.), Kreativität in der Forschung (Jahrbuch Wissenschaftsforschung; 2012) (pp. 141-155). Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag.

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Renn, J. (2013). Schrödinger and the genesis of wave mechanics. In W. L. Reiter, & J. Yngvason (Eds.), Erwin Schrödinger – 50 years after (pp. 9-36). Zürich: European Mathematical Society.

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Renn, J. (2012). Sulle spalle di giganti e nani: la rivoluzione incompiuta di Albert Einstein. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.

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Renn, J. (Ed.). (2012). The globalization of knowledge in history. Berlin: Edition open access.

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Renn, J., & Damerow, P. (2012). The equilibrium controversy: Guidobaldo del Monte's critical notes on the mechanics of Jordanus and Benedetti and their historical and conceptual background. Berlin: Edition open access.

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Renn, J., & Schemmel, M. (2012). Das Aufeinandertreffen zweier Wissenssysteme in Leben und Arbeit des Jesuitengelehrten Johannes Schreck. In M. Wullen, M. Lailach, & J. Völllnagel (Eds.), Von mehr als einer Welt: die Künste der Aufklärung [Aussstellungskatalog, Kulturforum 10. Mai - 5. August 2012] (pp. 305-327). Petersberg: Imhof [u.a.].

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Renn, J. (2008). Boltzmann and the end of the mechanistic worldview. In G. Gallavotti, W. L. Reiter, & J. Yngvason (Eds.), Boltzmann's legacy (pp. 7-26). Zurich: European Mathematical Society Publishing House.

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Gavroglu, K., & Renn, J. (Eds.). (2007). Positioning the history of science. Dordrecht: Springer.

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Renn, J. (2007). Boltzmann und das Ende des mechanistischen Weltbildes. Wien: Picus Verlag.

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Renn, J. (Ed.). (2007). The genesis of general relativity. Vol. 1-4. Dordrecht: Springer.

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Renn, J., & Damerow, P. (2007). Mentale Modelle als kognitive Instrumente der Transformation von technischem Wissen. In H. Böhme, C. Rapp, & W. Rösler (Eds.), Übersetzung und Transformation (pp. 311-331). Berlin: de Gruyter.

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Damerow, P., Freudenthal, G., McLaughlin, P., & Renn, J. (2004). Exploring the limits of preclassical mechanics: a study of conceptual development in early modern science; free fall and compounded motion in the work of Descartes, Galileo, and Beeckman. New York [u.a.]: Springer.

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Renn, J. (2006). Auf den Schultern von Riesen und Zwergen: Einsteins unvollendete Revolution. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH.

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Renn, J. (2006). Towards a Web of culture and science. Information Services & Use, 26(2), 73-79.

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Renn, J., & Schemmel, M. (2006). Mechanics in the Mohist Canon and its European counterparts. In H. U. Vogel, C. Moll-Murata, & G. Xuan (Eds.), Zhongguo ke ji dian ji yan jiu: di san jie Zhongguo ke ji dian ji guo ji hui yi lun wen ji, 2003.3.31 - 4.3, Deguo Tubingen = Studies on Ancient Chinese Scientific and Technical Texts: proceedings of the 3rd ISACBRST March 31 - April 3, 2003, Tübingen, Germany (pp. 24-31). Zhengzhou Shi: Da xiang chu ban she.

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Rynasiewicz, R., & Renn, J. (2006). The turning point for Einstein's annus mirabilis. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 37, 5-35.

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Presentations
May 2013
Musei Capitolini, Roma
Inauguration: Archimede, arte e scienza dell' invenzione
May 2013
Seven Pines Symposium: The Conceptual Development of Quantum Physics, Minnesota
From Classical Mechanics to Quantum Mechanics. Schroedinger and Umdeutung
April 2013
Planetarium am Insulaner, Berlin
Einsteins Entdeckung der Relativitaetstheorie
March 2013
Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES ), Paris
Einstein's Path to General Relativity
February 2013
UNESCO, First WSIS+10 Review Meeting, Paris
Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities + 10 Commitment of the Max Planck Society and International Research and Cultural Organisations
January 2013
XIV. Colloquio del Lessico Intellettuale Europeo (ILIESI), Roma
The Space of Relativistic Mechanics / Der Raum der relativistischen Mechanik
January 2013
Das Anthropozaen-Projekt. Eine Eroeffnung, Berlin
Keynote Lecture: Anthropocenic Research Forum
November 2012
Humboldt University Berlin
Contingentia. Transformationen des Zufalls. Zufaelle der Transformation
November 2012
The 5th conference of the European Society for the History of Science, University of Athens
Einstein as a Cosmopolitan (Plenary Lecture)
November 2012
Universitaet Erlangen
Festvortrag: Die Globalisierung des Wissens und ihre Geschichte
November 2012
"Wissenschaftsakademien im Zeitalter der Ideologien", LEOPOLDINA und HU Berlin, Halle
Utilitas oder Curiositas. Zur Bedeutung der Wissenschaftsakademien heute
October 2012
Juedisches Museum, Berlin
Freier Zugang zu kulturellem Erbe: eine Zwischenbilanz
September 2012
Biblioteca Leonardiana di Vinci, VINCI
Science et Representations. Colloque International en memorie de Pierre Souffrin
September 2012
University of Oslo
Globalization of Knowledge and Its Consequences
August 2012
The International Radiation Symposium 2012, Berlin
Einstein at the Crossroads between Quantum- and Relativity Physics
June 2012
FU Berlin, Keynote Lecture
Ethik - eine Selbstreflexion der Wissenschaft
June 2012
8th meeting of STEP ( Science and Technology in the European Periphery), Corfu National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Keynote Lecture
The Globalization of Knowledge in History
June 2012
Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, Halle
C.F. von Weizsaecker in den Netzwerken der MPG
June 2012
8th meeting of STEP ( Science and Technology in the European Periphery), Corfu National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Keynote Lecture
The Globalization of Knowledge in History
March 2012
Evangelische Akademie Tutzing, Tagung „Himmels(t)raum“
Vor 400 Jahren: Galileo Galilei Vollendet die kopernikanische Wende
February 2012
FU Berlin, Akademische Abschlussfeier des Fachbereichs Physik, Berlin
Die Geschichte der Wellenmechanik
February 2012
EFC Research Forum Stakeholders' Conference, Barcelona
History of Science in Action: Creating and Publishing Virtual Knowledge Spaces
February 2012
Residencia de Estudiantes Madrid
Einstein as a Missionary of Science
February 2012
University of Bern
Beyond Editions: Historical Sources in the Digital Age
January 2012
FU Berlin (Experimental Molecular Biophysics), Klosters
The Global Evolution of Knowledge
Teaching activities
2013
University of ViennaDoctoral Colloquium
2013
Humboldt University/Free University BerlinDoctoral Colloquium
2012
University of BergamoSeminar "Evolution of Knowledge"
2012
Humboldt University/Free University BerlinDoctoral Colloquium
2011
Humboldt University/Free University BerlinDoctoral Colloquium
2010
Humboldt University/Free University BerlinDoctoral Colloquium

Contact

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science 
Boltzmannstraße 22 
14195 Berlin 
Germany

Projects