I wrote a blog post about our proposed master's level track, "Sustainable Information Society" four months ago. At that time there were altogether 13 proposals for master's level tracks (specialisations) in our new master's program that is slated to start in the autumn of 2016 (one and a half years from now).
Some time later, during the first half of November, our first, second and third year students in the Media Technology Engineering programme were invited to cast votes for their two favourite (proposed) tracks. At that point, there were only 10 tracks left and we knew that that number had to be further whittled down to somewhere between 6-8 tracks.
Each track had to prepare for the trial election by putting together a short text (1.5-2 pages long) that contained a short description of the track, the relation to previous courses in the program, a description of the team/group that would be responsible for the track, the prospective labor market (e.g. companies that are interested in hosting master's thesis students from the track) and formal prerequisites.
I teach a course about sustainability and ICT/Media Technology, but unfortunately only to our fourth year students. I think that many of these students "get it" after they have taken our course, but these younger (first to third-year) students have not yet taken that course and we were thus a little worried about not being able to woo them solely with our short description. The results from the election were presented before Christmas and it turned out that while ours was not the most popular track it was neither the least popular. We ended up somewhere in the middle of the road and were pretty happy about that.
Earlier this week, we found out that our proposed track will be one of six tracks that will be offered when the new master's program starts in 2016. Hooray!
That has some practical implications that will play out over the next year or two:
- Our course about sustainability and ICT/Media Technology will be moved from the fourth to the third year. The course is compulsory so all students in the programme have to take it. That course will also constitute a big ad for our master's level track.
- Students will be able to choose two out of the six available tracks. The students who choose our track will at a minimum read two courses of ours (7.5 credits each). That means we "own" these students 50% of the time for half a year.
- These two courses have to be formally set up (registered etc.) already this term and they will of course furthermore have to be developed (filled with content) and manned.
- Except for these two courses, students will also have the option of choosing to study a project course (15 credits) and to write their master's thesis (30 credits) within our track for a total of 60 credits (= one full year of studies). Our master's students also have yet another 30 credits for optional courses - which means they could choose to study even more courses pertaining to sustainability (and ICT/Media Technology) should they want to.
A practical effect of this is that I have a hard time thinking I will teach anything but sustainability two years from now. There will also be plenty of opportunities for my colleagues and fellow team members to teach about sustainability instad of other subjects. That will be great!
It might be the case that we will be unique in being able to offer this specialisation in ICT & sustainability in all of Sweden and perhaps also in all of Europe. We would hopefully, at some point in the future, even be able recruit students from elsewhere in Sweden (or Europe) to come to KTH and choose to study our track. That's more of a dream than a realistic scenario at the moment and the immediate challenge that we have in front of us right now is to develop the track itself in the first place. All of this is anyway totally great news for me and for our sustainability team.
I have translated the first part of the short "selling" text we wrote to convince our students to choose our specialisation, here it is:
Track: Sustainable Information SocietyDescription:
"Sustainability" is a nice catchword that is used at various ceremonial occasions - but it also represents one of the 21st century's biggest challenges. No scientific discipline and no university programme can any longer argue that sustainability is "someone else's problem". In this track, we assume that media and ICT can have both positive and negative effects in regards to sustainability and our goal is to understand and maximise the benefits while minimising the negative effects. We want to be involved in building a sustainable future where ICT can play a central role!
The research team behind this track already have established contacts with many different partners (e.g. Ericsson, TeliaSonera, Coop, The City of Stockholm, FOI Defence Analysis etc.) who are interested in hosting master's thesis students in this field. There is also much interest in establishing interdisciplinary collaborations with people who are engaged in Media Technology, ICT and sustainability both in business and within KTH, and, it will furthermore also be possible to (in addition to the required courses) choose to take elective courses where you will meet students from other parts of KTH.
The courses that are included in the track contain both theoretical and practical elements and are divided into two courses based on "what industry asks for today" and "what our future society needs tomorrow". The first of these courses aims to provide knowledge of specific tools for the sustainable ICT/Media Technology engineer, for example life cycle assessment (LCA) of products and services within the media and ICT area, systems thinking, environmental psychology, how to communicate about sustainability, etc.