Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany

Sustainability research, cultural research, education, management and entrepreneurship: Through these four science initiatives, in course work and research, Leuphana University Lüneburg addresses the challenges of civil society in the 21st century. The bodies responsible for these initiatives are the faculties newly established in 2010: Education, Culture, Business und Sustainability . There are research topics spanning multiple faculties – in keeping with developments of current and future relevance – devoted to Democracy, Digital Media and Health.

MECS, the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation, is one of the main research bodies in Leuphana’s Digital Media program, and a cooperation partner in the Adaptive Environments framework.

MECS explores the revolutionary impact of computer simulations in the sciences and humanities. During the last decades, computer simulations left a mark in nearly every possible field of study – e.g. from microbiology to climate research, from architecture to manufacturing, or from epidemology to political decision theory. What new kinds of knowledge are produced by computer simulations? How do they change our understanding of the sciences?

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), MECS sets out to find answers to such broad questions. This endeavor will be accomplished in diverse ways: by analysing historical and contemporary case studies, by building an interdisciplinary network of international fellows, and by organising trans-disciplinary lectures, workshops, and conferences. In an age of computer simulations, MECS is one of the few institutions worldwide specifically focused on understanding their wide-ranging impacts.

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Vehlken is a media theorist and cultural historian at the Institute for Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Senior Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS). From 2013-17, he worked as MECS Junior Director, and was visiting professor at Humboldt-Universität Berlin, University of Vienna, and Leuphana. His areas of interest include the theory and history of computer simulation and digital media, the media history of swarm intelligence, the epistemology of think tanks, and oceans as spaces of knowledge. His current research project "Plutonium Worlds" explores the application of computer simulations in West-German Fast Breeder Reactor programs.
Contact: sebastian.vehlken@leuphana.de