About the IWE

The Institute for Science and Ethics (IWE) is a Central Research Unit of the University of Bonn funded by the German public.
The director of the IWE, Prof. Dr. Aimee van Wynsberghe overhauled the institute’s strategy in order to establish it as a renowned institution in the relevant academic, private sector and public policy spaces, both in Germany and on the international stage.

Adjusting organizational structure of the institute to new overall ambition and objectives


It is the ambition of the IWE that its researchers/research will be recognized internationally as a frontrunner in research of bio, environmental and AI ethics and education. Using a multidisciplinary, comprehensive engineering approach and the potential of AI to examine and solve today’s complex societal challenges will enable us to make a difference.

In 2025 we will have:

  • Strengthened the community of IWE researchers
  • Strengthened collaborations between IWE and partners in- and outside University of Bonn
  • Created strong visibility to the outside world
  • Made a contribution to education in the areas of ethics of biology, environment and AI at the University of Bonn

Overall objective(s) of the institute

The overall objective of the Institute for Science and Ethics is to enhance research and visibility in the areas of environmental, bio and AI ethics. Additionally, the IWE wants to provide excellent education on ethics of science at the University of Bonn.

We will do this by:

  • Shaping a strong community of commited researchers interested in environmental, bio and AI ethics at the IWE
  • Showcasing the results of research projects of the IWE on an international scale
  • Facilitating research collaborations inside and outside the IWE
  • Establishing and maintaining international partnerships to enhance research on/in/with ethics
  • Contribute to current and future education on ethics across the university and offer opportunities for students to interact with the academic research at the IWE

IWE research pillars

Prof. Dr. van Wynsberghe introduced a new research focus to the IWE. This new focus strives to provide robust and comprehensive grounding to public policy guidelines for the green, proportionate and sustainable development and use of AI. To this end, the Sustainable AI Lab has been established within the IWE to further this line of research.
The new research pillars of the IWE are:

Bonn Sustainable AI Lab

Sustainable AI can be understood as having two branches: AI for sustainability and sustainability of AI. To fully understand the benefits and risks of AI, it is important to investigate both branches. While there is a growing number of publications directed towards AI for the Sustainable Development Goals, there is little research addressing the often-hidden environmental costs of AI.

For this reason, the Bonn Sustainable AI Lab creates a space for a group of excellent international researchers of different fields to work, collaborate and exchange ideas on the environmental, social, and economic costs of designing, developing, using, and disposing of AI.

The lab’s team aims to: measure and assess the diverse environmental impacts of AI, research ways of making AI systems more sustainable, and address AI in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The questions to be explored span multiple disciplines and levels of analysis, for example: the normative grounding of the value of sustainability, the strength of the concept of sustainability, how to measure environmental costs of AI, understanding the intergenerational impacts of AI, and informing public policy guidelines for the green, proportionate, and sustainable development and use of AI. The lab’s researchers look at issues of sustainability and AI in contexts like the healthcare space, the urban space, and the work environment.

The Bonn Sustainable AI Lab aims to make connections and create impact beyond academia, by working together with policy makers, industry, designers, and artists, as well as building international and interdisciplinary partnerships. The lab regularly hosts artists in residence as well as international guest researchers and organises the bi-annual Sustainable AI conference to showcase research on AI and sustainability and to build a community of Sustainable AI researchers.

The Bonn Sustainable AI Lab is an initiative of Prof. Dr Aimee van Wynsberghe, director of Bonn University’s Institute of Science and Ethics. It is funded by her Alexander von Humboldt Professorship for Applied Ethics of AI, which was awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and is endowed by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

History and Committees

The Institute for Science and Ethics was founded in 1993 on the initiative of the University of Bonn, the University of Essen, the Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) and the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR). It was sponsored by a registered association based in Bonn. The direction of the institute was carried out by a board of directors. The scientific work was accompanied by an advisory board. The institute received a basic funding by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia within the framework of the title group 73. Since January 1st, 2010, the institute is a Central Research Unit of the University of Bonn. The association will continue to operate alongside the institute. The institute is directed by its director Prof. Dr Aimee van Wynsberghe.

Wird geladen