This website provides an overview of the BMS research programme for the coming five to ten years. It focuses on the domain challenges, scientific contribution, societal impact, and infrastructure of the BMS research programme. The mission of the BMS research programme is to use science to create societal impact of technology. The programme uses interdisciplinary scientific theories and methods to develop and assess technological innovations that have an impact on contemporary societal challenges. BMS developed 5 research themes for the coming five to ten years: Learning, Health, Resilience, Industry, and Emerging Technologies. For each BMS research programme, the domain challenges, the scientific contribution, the societal impact, and the infrastructure are further described in seperate pages. Below the programme is described in general.
Current society witnesses many technological innovations, like those in nanotechnology, biomedical technology, and digital technology. The Faculty’s research programme wants to contribute perspectives from the behavioral, organizational, and social sciences to the development of new technologies that address current societal challenges as well as to a better understanding of their impact on people’s lives.
Future technologies are part of a dynamic social system: they are not only used to address societal challenges, but they also pose new challenges as their impact on life is often not well understood. An interdisciplinary approach, combining the faculty’s multiple disciplines with technological sciences, is necessary to better understand how technologies can be developed that fit the abilities and values of human beings. An interdisciplinary approach is also needed to gain more insight in how technologies are accepted, adopted, and implemented by human beings as well as in how human beings modify, tinker, and put technologies to new and unintended uses.
Technologies of the future will be complex, adaptive systems themselves that will play a role in a multi-layered social system, including individuals, organizations, and societies. At the individual or micro-level, technologies change the minds, bodies, and social relationships of people. At the organizational or meso-level, technologies modify the role and functioning of business, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations. At the societal or macro-level, technologies transform societal structures and processes. Technologies will ask for the creation of new relations between individuals, organizations, and societies as they will stimulate new modes of learning, care, participation, consumption and production. This may contribute to personalization, i.e., technologies may better fit the needs and wants of people, but it may also exclude those who do not have access to technologies or the competences to use them. Furthermore, technologies produce new moral dilemmas, for example with regard to autonomy, solidarity, and risks. Given these complex relations, it is vital to combine behavioral, organizational, and societal perspectives in order to create technological impact on contemporary societal challenges.
Technologies will become even more pervasive and produce immense flows of data whose potentials and pitfalls are just beginning to get explored. Current organizations like schools, health care institutes, companies, and governments need to adapt to these challenges, but also need good science to do this in a responsible way. At the same time, new technologies will offer innovative methodologies that behavioral, organizational, and social sciences will use to gain more insight in human life.
The BMS research programme brings together behavioural, management, and social sciences to contribute to the scientific understanding of the dynamic and multi-layered nature of the impact of technological innovation. The programme has four aims in its scientific contribution:
(1) to adjust and integrate existing disciplinary theories into more interdisciplinary frameworks that allow for a better understanding and explanation of the societal impact of technologies across the micro-, meso- and macro-level;
(2) to closely cooperate with technological disciplines to better understand technological developments and contribute to innovations from a behavioural, management, and social science perspective early on in the innovation process;
(3) to further develop a multimethod approach, integrating more traditional methods with virtual reality, sensing, tracking, and simulation methods that will allow more naturalistic, ecologically valid assessment of human behaviours and relations;
(4) to advance the validity of big data analytics by incorporating domain-specific knowledge into computational models.
Through its research, the BMS research programme strives to create societal impact in the domains of learning, health, resilience, industry, and emerging technologies. By providing scientific evidence, the programme wants to contribute to responsible, safe, inclusive, affordable, and sustainable technological solutions that have an impact on societal challenges in these domains. It contributes to the education of citizens and professionals about technological innovations; endorses the development of new technologies that will be used by people in solving societal problems; supports the establishment of new forms of organizing adapted to new technological systems; provides new implementation strategies and governance models; and delivers tools, regulations, and advice for socio-economic policies at the societal level. The programme aims to further develop a design approach that involves the development, early assessment, implementation, and evaluation of new technologies and engages stakeholders from individuals, professionals, and managers to social policy makers in this iterative process.
The research staff is the main asset of the BMS programme. The faculty will therefore invest in new personnel to complement existing expertise, support the development and careers of researchers and contribute to community development between the researchers. The faculty will also stimulate the relations of BMS researchers with technological researchers in the new UT institutes. The faculty strives to extend its long-lasting cooperation with societal partners in order to create societal impact. The technological facilities that have been updated over the past years will receive continued attention, in particular those of the BMSlab as well as facilities for data storage and computing power. The faculty strives to gain influence in the agenda setting of national and international funding agencies. In order to create impact, the choice for the five research themes for the coming years has been carefully aligned with the National Science Agenda, grand societal challenges addressed in European funding, and the United Nations sustainable development goals.