fredag 27 januari 2017

Our Ph.D. course ended ("ICT and Sustainability")

I wrote a blog post at the end of June where I announced mine and Elina's then-upcoming ph.d. course DM3606 ICT and Sustainability. The course was held during the autumn term (September-December) and we had our final session this past week. The examination consisted of writing a course paper and we spent the final session presenting and discussing these papers.

Back in June, when we announced the course, we thought a lot of (perhaps reluctant) computer science ph.d.'s would sign up for the course not necessarily because they wanted to but because they kind of have to, but that message hadn't reached those students yet. Also, the actual call got stuck and we only found out after the summer (mid-August) that the invitation had in fact not been distributed before the summer (June). That meant that we were unsure if we would be able to give the course when it was supposed to start (August 25) but we did in the end get enough students together. These are the ph.d. students who took our course:

- Hanna Hasselqvist (KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication)
- Sebastian Rauh (KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication)
- Marius Koller (KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication)
- Fang Li (visiting researcher at KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication)
- Miriam Rivera Börjesson (KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment)
- Mia Hesselgren (KTH, School of Industrial Engineering & Management)
- Sofia Bryntse (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology)
- Per Fors (Uppsala University, Department of Engineering Sciences)

Most course participants were already focusing on (ICT and) sustainability in their research and were thus highly motivated (and knowledgable). We met every second week during the autumn and the three-hour course sessions treated these nine topics:

- Course introduction
- Sustainability 101
- ICT and Sustainability - 1st order effects
- ICT and Sustainability - 2nd and 3rd order effects
- Sustainable Interaction Design and Sustainable Human-Computer Interaction
- Social sustainability and ICT4D
- Limits and Collapse informatics
- Sustainability and Software Engineering
- The future

We all think the course structure worked fine. We will keep most of it and might only upgrade the readings if we give the course again a year or two from now. I guess we could think of this course as a "test run" for future courses but will have to take into account that the audience might be slightly different (less invested in sustainability) next time we give the course. One takeaway lesson was that it worked surprisingly well to have two (for the most part) remote participants (who live in Germany). It worked even better those times we sat in the in the video-conference room and had access to specialized software and an excellent microphone and speakers. It almost felt like the remote participants were present and one person even participated once while sitting traveling by train! This opens up the possibility of inviting some of the paper authors to join the course for half an hour when we discuss their papers (which is also easier if they live in Europe/in same time zone).

Reading the ph.d. students' course papers, these were the most popular papers we read during the autumn:

Background knowledge:
- Steffen, W., Richardson, K., Rockström, J., Cornell, S.E., Fetzer, I., Bennett, E.M., Biggs, R., Carpenter, S.R., de Vries, W., de Wit, C.A., Folke, C., Gerten, D., Heinke, J., Mace, G.M., Persson, L.M., Ramanathan, V., Reyers, B. and Sörlin, S. (2015). Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science, 347(6223), 1259855.

- Raworth, K. (2012). A safe and just space for humanity: can we live within the doughnut. Oxfam Policy and Practice: Climate Change and Resilience, 8(1), 1-26.

- Cramer, B. W. (2012). Man’s need or man’s greed: The human rights ramifications of green ICTs. Telematics and Informatics, 29(4), 337-347.

Getting down and dirty:
- Robinson, J. (2004). Squaring the circle? Some thoughts on the idea of sustainable development. Ecological economics, 48(4), 369-384.

- Hilty, L. M. (2012). Why energy efficiency is not sufficient-some remarks on «Green by IT». In EnviroInfo (pp. 13-20).

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