In the 21st century, the process of Digitization has come to pervade and fundamentally alter all areas of human coexistence. From an academic point of view, Digitization is of interest in at least two respects: On the one hand, the transformation of the generation, storage, and processing of information from analogous to digital formats represents a technological phenomenon with far-reaching economic, cultural, social, and political implications. On the other hand, digital research techniques have also opened up new potentials for studying various areas of research. In other words, digitization is now of major relevance as both a discrete object of research as well as a research tool that allows to uncover novel facets and take new perspectives in a broad range of disciplines.
The truly multidisciplinary character and relevance of Digitization processes as a research topic appears particularly striking once we look at the variety of academic disciplines focusing on this issue within JMU: At the Institute of Computer Science, one research group explores novel forms of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). In doing so, research interests range from the understanding and design of concepts and models of human cognition, communication, and collaboration to the development of engineering principles and techniques necessary for the creation of rich, interactive, and intelligent user interfaces for computerized real, virtual, and blended media environments. The HCI group has been successful in obtaining funding from the Free State of Bavaria for the establishment of a new Embodiment Lab. A different research group at the Institute of Computer Science investigates how new approaches like crowdsourcing support the digitization in enterprises. The integration of participatory sensing and human perception is the focus of another DFG-funded project, conducted at the Chair for Artificial Intelligence and Applied Computer Science
The interdisciplinary EFRD Project „Individualisierung Digital“ explores the digital marketing of products on the internet (e-commerce) and its implications for small and medium-sized Franconian enterprises. At the Faculty of Law, the Research Unit “RobotRecht” was founded in 2010 to shed light on (and jointly develop solutions for) the legal challenges arising from current technical developments in the field of autonomous systems, with vehicle automation probably representing the most prominent example.
Digitization and new media in teaching and research represent a major focus for several groups of researchers at JMU. In the project VaryFast, funded by the Free State of Bavaria, JMU researchers join forces with colleagues from the Universities of Applied Sciences of Aschaffenburg and of Würzburg-Schweinfurt to utilize the potential of virtual and augmented reality for academic teaching. At the Institute for Protestant Theology and Religious Pedagogy, research projects ask for the role of religion and religiousness in the context of medial transformation, explore varieties of web-based communication within church as a network organization, or tackle the Digitization of religious instruction in schools.
At the "Center for Digital Fabrication" (CeDiFa), researchers of the Management and Economics Faculty have been studying the implications of additive manufacturing (aka "3D printing") processes since 2012. The corresponding research focus is on the impact on operations and other processes in the value chain as well as on the emergence of online communities surrounding the creation of digital 3D object models. In 2017 the “Digital Retail Lab” (DLR) was founded as a unique industry-academic partnership to develop new techniques for operations management and omni-channel retailing in the fashion industry.
Digitization has also been increasingly applied as a research tool, which has served the purpose of bridge-building between established human-centered disciplines and new technologies, thus resulting in an emergence of new fields of research in the humanities and social sciences. Today, it has become commonplace to put this bridging under the heading of “Digital Humanities“. At JMU, research in this field, inter alia, is being conducted by the Kallimachos Center for Digital Humanities, which is assigned to JMU’s university library and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. As a collaboration between librarians and scholars from the humanities, computer scientists, as well as corpus linguists, Kallimachos focuses on digital editions and the application of quantitative analysis by applying different methods of text mining. Following a recommendation by the German Science Council, JMU has also been awarded with substantial funds to erect a building for its new “Zentrum für Philologie und Digitalität (ZPD)”, which will bring scholars from the humanities and computer scientists together to study the implications of digitization for the humanities. Upon completion by 2022, the ZPD will further strengthen JMU’s efforts in the field of “Digital Society”.