The Zivilklausel of TU Darmstadt

Introduction Implementation Checklist & Notes Further Information


The Zivilklausel of TU Darmstadt

“Research, teaching and studies at Technische Universität Darmstadt exclusively pursue peaceful goals and serve civilian purposes; research, particularly relating to the development and optimisation of technical systems, as well as studies and teaching are focused on civilian use.”

In its Charter, TU Darmstadt has included a Zivilklausel and a procedure for implementing it. The Zivilklausel

• is gradational and differentiates between basic “goals” and concrete “purposes” (usage) integrated in the research results

• differentiates between “shall” and “should”

• establishes a concrete link to optimisation and application

The implementation procedure relies on a culture of reflection and responsibility on the part of the members of the university. The topic is complex (vide “dual use”). It demands the kind of close examination that is not geared to globally “allow” or “prohibit” research but aims at detailed consideration of research planned, and critical self-reflection. The implementation procedure seeks to reflect this fundamental idea.

The main implementation tool is a checklist which researchers shall use in advance of a project to reassure themselves and to clarify potential aspects of their research that may touch on the Zivilklausel. Both researchers and administrators can turn to TU Darmstadt’s Ethics Commission to clarify borderline cases (consultation or recommendation), using the checklist.

The Procedure for Implementing TU Darmstadt’s Zivilklausel

Specific procedure for research projects/research contracts

The procedure is based on researchers’ individual responsibility and ensures that they examine the topic critically. Moreover, it provides documentation for independent assessments (checklist) and an opportunity for both researchers and university management to approach the Ethics Commission for a statement (recommendation) on whether their proposals are compatible with TU Darmstadt’s Zivilklausel.


Checklist & Notes

Checklist for self-assessment/documentation of a research proposal

Notes for completing the Zivilklausel checklist

Further Information

DFG und Leopoldina: Scientific Freedom and Scientific Responsibility. Recommendations for Handling Security-Relevant Research. May 2014.