10 July 2023, by Newsroom editorial office
CDO Prof. Dr. Sebastian Gerling (l.) and University president Prof. Dr. Hauke Heekeren
After a year in creation, Universität Hamburg has released its digital strategy. So what is it, and why is it important for the University? University president Prof. Dr. Hauke Heekeren and chief digital officer Prof. Dr. Sebastian Gerling discuss in the interview below.
Why does Universität Hamburg need a digital strategy?
Hauke Heekeren: As a University, we set ourselves the big social challenges of our time. For the University's strategic development, we want to master and actively advance the “twin transformation” of sustainability and digitalization together. Our digital strategy sets us on the road towards realizing the transformation we need.
Sebastian Gerling: The special thing about the strategy is the holistic perspective we use to look at digitalization. We understand digitalization as a transformation that affects all areas of the University and that will have a long-lasting effect on our teaching and learning as well as our collaborations and everyday work.
What does that mean for students, researchers, and staff?
Gerling: If we want to drive innovation, we have to ensure all members of the University have the confidence, courage, and infrastructure to adequately face the digital challenges of our time. Research and teaching will be constantly critically assessed and developed against technological trends and developments, digital methods, and applications.
Heekeren: We want to take advantage of digitalization in learning and teaching, research, administration, and transfer; in short, in all areas. In addition, we want to contribute to digital and data literacy in education for all graduates, while also training the informatics experts that the region sorely needs.
A look into the future—what still needs to change in the field of digitalization?
Heekeren: In Hamburg, there are very socially relevant areas of application for our digital methods in research: in climate research, the life sciences, manuscript research, as well as in the House of Computing and Data Science. Conducting excellent research with data requires excellent technical infrastructure. Part of making Hamburg a knowledge center for the future requires constructing data centers and high-performance computing facilities. We would like to contribute to that, too.
What are the key challenges for successful digital transformation?
Gerling: The biggest challenge is the sheer size of the organization. The digital transformation of a knowledge organization as large as Universität Hamburg is an enormous undertaking that will keep us busy for a few years to come. In developing the strategy, we have consciously set very ambitious goals, for example, in the area of strengthening digital methodology, creating a broad range of subjects for all students in the context of data and digital literacy, and establishing uniform data management in University administration, because we are convinced that our University can only be effective if transformation is implemented across the board.
What role does the digital strategy play for Universität Hamburg’s strategic development?
Gerling: We are in a stage of digital change, and digitalization and digital media, tools, and communication are very much part of our daily life. If we, as a university, continue to approach the challenges posed by this transformation with curiosity and open minds, just as we have been doing for the last 3 years, I am sure that we will make great strides towards sustainable digitalization.
Heekeren: As a University of Excellence, we don’t just want to continue expanding our excellent research, but to also use our expertise and innovation as a catalyst for future development. This also applies to digital transformation.