torsdag 9 juni 2022

Feel the energy! (approved research project)


We just found out our application for a two-year research project was approved! The money comes from The Swedish Energy Agency's call "Design for an energy efficient everyday life" (Design för energieffektiv vardag). 

It is my colleague Björn Hedin's application "Feel the energy! Tactile learning about everyday energy use" that got 4.7 MSEK in funding and the project itself will run between October 2022 to December 2024. 

While Björn unfortunately does not work at our department any longer (but rather at the Department of Learning in Engineering Science), we continue to do research together and this application is an example of that. The project money will be used for hiring a phd student who will work in the project, but it will also pay for 5% of my time and ≈ 25% of current phd project Arjun Menon's time. Arjun works at my department but Björn (who thus works elsewhere) is his advisor. Besides Björn himself an additional three persons are also part of the project and I expect I will meet them for the first time during the mid-September project kick-off:

- Daniel Rosqvist is "Science Center Manager" at the Technical Museum and has many years of experience in designing museum-based learning activities. Daniel also attended Björn's phd course on "Learning behavior" (about creating engaging learning experiences).

- Malin Lindstaf works as a project leader at the municipal energy and climate advisors (Energi- och klimatrådgivning, EKR) in the City of Stockholm. EKR are in close contact with citizens and can help the project identify knowledge gaps. EKR also has mobile energy-related exhibitions where the concepts developed in this project could be integrated and tested.

- Anders Blomqvist works at the same institution as Björn (Department of Learning in Engineering Science) but at another division, "House of Science" (Vetenskapens Hus). House of Science has 80 000 visitors per year and is another venue/platform where we can test concepts that are developed in the project. 

So this is a very strong team, but what then are we actually going to do in the project? The English-language project abstract states:

The public’s understanding regarding their own role in the energy system and how they themselves can influence their situation is very low - so-called “Energy literacy”. Energy issues are perceived as boring, abstract and complicated, and research shows that traditional learning about energy consumption quickly falls into oblivion and has little effect on individuals' choices and behaviors.

In this project, we want to explore how people's knowledge and engagement to everyday energy issues are affected if they actually get to “feel” the energy physically. We will develop a flexible concept for portable “exhibitions” with associated pedagogical instructions that can be used in classrooms, exhibitions, foyers and at festivals. With the help of these, participants can playfully interact with models of real objects and situations, where abstract quantities such as energy, power and carbon footprint are represented by the weight and and volume of physical objects.

Previous generations often had a direct physical relationship to their energy use (Borgmann 1987). They cut and carried firewood, dug ditches and used their legs to move around. Modern campaigns such as "two holes in the wall" (e.g. you don't need to know or care where the electricity comes from) have deliberately encouraged people not to worry or care about developing a mature conception of energy and energy use. The energy is instead available wherever and whenever you need it - as if it has sprung forth from a cornucopia of eternal and endless energy. We have become accustomed to energy being inexpensive, abundantly available and ready to be used at the slightest whim ("at the flick of the switch"). This has also led to low levels of "energy literacy" among the general population. An important objective of the project is thus to design and explore the possibility of helping people regain a more direct, physical connection to energy. The hope is that participants can gain a greater understanding of the large (but various) amounts of energy that different everyday chores require, an increased understanding of the importance of managing their energy use as well as knowledge that will help them "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel".

I will work 5% in the project and mostly as an observer/pollinator between this project and my own art + science + communication project "From Homo Sapiens to Homo Colossus: Visualising our energy footprint". I expect I will also be helpful primarily in writing articles, in supervising bachelor's and master's theses and of course also by designing and testing workshop contents and formats (these are three of the project deliverables). I will surely want to apply my evolving Art of Hosting skills to the design of new workshop formats! My previous blog post is about using Art of Hosting methods for designing a workshop format for the Homo Colossus project and it's also very good that also Arjun who will work in the project took the same three-day intensive Art of Hosting course half a year ago!

Last but not least, the project has budgeted money to buy a 3D printer and I look forward to see how it will come to use in the project!


söndag 5 juni 2022

Homo Colossus @ House of Culture (workshop)


Our science + art + communication project "From Homo Sapiens to Homo Colossus" organized a workshop at Stockholm +50 in cooperation with the City of Stockholm and Kulturhuset (House of Culture)!

A high-level UN meeting has been held in Stockholm this past week, Stockholm+50. The UN meeting also commemorates the 1972  United Nations Conference on the Human Environment that was held in Stockholm - the first large UN-held conference on the environment. Besides the UN meeting itself, numerous activities have been organized in Stockholm during the past week by the civil society and other actors, including by the City of Stockholm. 

We were invited by the City of Stockholm to be part of the activities that were planned to happen right in the center of Stockholm - at Sergels Torg and in Kulturhuset (The Stockholm House of Culture). This happened three months in advance and our research project have since designed, developed and implemented a 2-hour workshop format for the Stockholm+50 event - see the invitation to the event above.

During the first month, there was a lot of planning and decisions-making (who is the target audience, would you need to sign up in advance, should school classes or individuals sign up, what help would we need etc.). We decided to target youths and young adults (14-25 years old). They are also the audience for quite some activities at Kulturhuset and this is also a convenient group for us since it's basically "my students at KTH” and “their younger siblings” (e.g. my own teenage children). The City of Stockholm and Kulturhuset also offered support in the form of a cultural and theater pedagogue/educator with much experience of working with youths, Åsa Kalzén, who has been a sounding board during the development of the workshop format. Åsa came to the kick-off for our detailed workshop planning - a design meeting at KTH a month in advance of the workshop itself. 

 Our first planning session. 
From left to right: Daniel, Belinda, Per, Åsa K, Åsa AB. Behind the camera: Mario.

While there are five persons in our science + art + communication project, it was me and Belinda who took on the responsibility of planning and leading this workshop. While I have known Belinda for the better part of a decade, I have not worked that closely with her before, but we had a great cooperation and met at least once per week in the run-up to the workshop (often in front of a whiteboard).

There were certainly many challenges in the communication between us and the City of Stockholm. We did not know how many had signed up for our Friday and our Saturday workshops - or even if there would be a workshop less than a week in advance. It later turned out the project leader did not herself have that information without reaching out to another part of the City of Stockholm organization. And while the design of the invitation (above) is great, it could have been even better if we had been able to provide just a little more input (but the design was also done by "difficult-to-reach people elsewhere in the organization"). I have not worked a lot with City of Stockholm but based on this experience, it seems to be a mature compartmentalized bureaucracy. The event accepted sign-ups up until the very last minute, so it wasn't until Friday we found out that not enough people had signed up for our Saturday workshop and we had to pull the plug and cancel it. This was very unfortunate as we had planned to show some really cool things (Augmented Reality!) on Saturday that we couldn't show on Friday.

Testing off-the-shelf Augmented Reality (not specifically adapted to our purposes and our project)

But also our Friday workshop was threatened at the very last minute. On my way to Kulturhuset at the day of the event, I called the school teacher who would show up with her class mid-day and she apologized and told me on the phone (with just a few hours advance notice) that she had double-booked her school class and that they had to cancel our workshop. That was definitely the lowest point of the day. Me and Belinda panicked and were very close to cancelling the workshop at that point. 

BUT, this disaster was followed by incredible other-worldly luck. Our first stroke of luck was that we had two total heroes working as liaison officers between Kulturhuset and us, namely Åsa K (above) and Ingemar. As me and Belinda made emergency plans to reformat our workshop so it would work for more temporary passers-by, they accustomed and propositioned a larger group of people who just happened to hang around outside (remember, this was in the very center of Stockholm) and Åsa and Ingemar invited/convinced them to take part of the workshop - to which they agreed! They returned one hour later since we (again) needed to rework and replan, including translating the workshop from Swedish to English on the fly. We thus in the end gave the workshop to a group of 16 who by an incredible stroke of luck consisted of 50% teachers and 50% students AND 50% of the teachers and students came from Sundsvall (northern Sweden) and the other half from Bogotá, Colombia (my father was born in Colombia! My uncle who just turned 80 lives in Bogotá! I've been Bogotá several times - but not in the last 25 years). So we had a dream group of participants that was further strengthened by our specially invited guests Siri and Julia who works at Tekniska Museet (the Stockholm Technical Museum) and Per who works in the Homo Colossus project but who had not been involved in planning the workshop.

The workshop itself was planned together with Belinda and according to my recently-acquired Art of Hosting co-creation methods & skills (see more here and here), and, it was a success! Everybody loved it and and everybody was thankful. Me and Belinda were thankful this particular group showed up and made the workshop possible, and they were thankful we organized a customized workshop "just for them"!

Siri and Julia from Tekniska Museet were also happy and they invited us to present our Homo Colossus project at a personell meeting after the summer. We already cooperate with Tekniska Museet and we are interested in further developing this two-hour Homo Colossus workshop so that they can use it when school classes visit them. We hope to be able to work on this during the autumn, and having Siri and Julia experience the workshop themselves was a great start. All in all we went from the lowest low to the highest high and the workshop became a total success (by fluke of luck)!

Me, starting up the 15-minute mini-lecture to an audience of Swedish and Colombian teachers and students.

The core or the workshop consisted of a 15 minutes long mini-lecture and an hour-long World Cafe exercise with three separate discussion rounds that were structured around the questions:
  • 1) What is energy? What is energy for you?
  • 2) How do you use energy in your everyday life?
The third question was preceded by an exercise where participants self-sorted along an axis across the room and according to their answer to the following question: "As we heard [in the mini-lecture], we currently face a challenge that is a combination of 1) exchanging fossil fuels for renewable energy sources and 2) use less energy. Stand over there [at the other end of the room] if you think the answer is alternative 1 and over here if you think the answer is alternative 2 - or stand somewhere in-between 1 and 2 according to your position on this question. I then divided the participants into four groups depending on where they stood in relation to 1 and 2. 
  • 3) Based on your position in the self-sorting exercise, please discuss "ways forward".

World Cafe round 2 (second color of post-it notes has just been put into play).

The major part of the last half hour was spend on "harvesting"; on giving the participants the opportunityu to think and discuss the workshop (contents, format) based on these three questions:
- What was the best part of the workshop?
- Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
- What is the next step (for yourselves in terms of thinking/acting/doing)? Back-up question: what's the next step for society?

Each person was encouraged to write one post-it note per question. We haven't really looked at this yet but me and Belinda will go through and analyze the feedback after the summer!

My workshop colleague Belinda wrote a shorter and snappier text on LinkedIn a week after the workshop. Hers is the better text (and a much faster read) than this "more complete" blog post and her first half reads like this (the second half has already been covered by the text above):

What is energy? This was the core question Daniel Pargman and I explored on Friday last week during our workshop "Don't be a dinosaur!" The title refers to the actual weight of a human, if we were to EAT all the energy we consume in a day (food, but also fuel, electricity, heat etc). Rather than weighing somewhere around 50-100 kg, it would turn us into a creature of around 20 000 kg. This is the aprox weight of a dinosaur or, as we like to call it, a HOMO COLOSSUS.

torsdag 2 juni 2022

Our MID (department) Research Day


Me and Arjun organized the "Research Day" at our department; Dept of Media Technology and Interaction Design (MID). This was the second time we had a Research Day and the previous was held 18 months ago during Covid so it was virtual and probably did not lead to many new friendships. Our goal was instead to make it as interactive and physical as possible and the goal was for people at our department to meet and get to know people in other research groups better. I think this is particularly important for phd students who have been cooped up for the better part of two years and who might not know or indeed even recognize everyone who works at the department!

Me and Arjun used some of the methods we picked up at the Art of Hosting course we attended at the end of last year and most prominently we used Storytelling as a cornerstone for the event. We have six teams (research groups) at the department and each team has two team leaders. We invited one team leader from each group to become a "team storyteller" for a day and a large part of the schedule was structured around these stories. While neither Olle nor Olga could represent the Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) group, we had no less than five storytellers with us during the event (in order of appearance): Madeline representing the Interaction Design team, Elina representing (my/our group) the Sustainable Futures Lab, Roberto representing Sound and Music Computing, André representing Creative Media Technology and Eva-Lotta representing Social, Physical and Cultural Environments (SPACE). All storytellers received the following instructions a week in advance:


  • Each team has chosen a team storyteller

    • This is someone who currently runs a research project (OR has previous run a research project OR has written a research grant application

  • The team storyteller should prepare a (max) 10-minute story for the Research Day. 

  • You will have the privilege of talking uninterrupted.

  • Do note that there is a strict 10-minute limit. 

    • We will let you know when there are 3 minutes and 1 minute left

    • You might want to practice telling your story once in advance!

  • Use these questions as starting points and for inspiration:

    • Think of a current research project of yours (or alternatively a past project or a research grant application)!

    • What itch gave rise to this research project?

    • What motivates you to pursue this/these kinds of projects/issues/questions together with your collaborators/team?

      • What drives you, what motivates you, what raises your pulse?

      • Why is your research important to you, to MID, to society?

      • Were there any specific persons who inspired or motivated you to do this research? What role did they play?

      • What difficulties have you faced (or are you currently facing) in this line of research?

  • Be personal! Show people who you are, including what motivates you!

  • There will be no slides to prop you up – it will be just you talking to your colleagues! 

  • Somewhere between 30-35 have signed up/will be present at the MID Research Day!

During the event, everyone who listened to the storytellers chose to concentrate on one out of six Focusing Questions:

Choose one of these questions before you hear a story:
  • What motivations did you find in the story?
  • Why is the research in question important to the storyteller, to MID and/or to society?
  • Were there any difficult decisions in the story?
  • What role did other people play in the story?
  • What ideas did you get from the story that you might be able to use in your current or future work?
  • Illustrate!

Since Art of Hosting can (and in this case did) exude playful inclusiveness, I am certain very few participants understood how much time me and Arjun had put into planning the event (except those team-mates of ours who also attended the same course in Art of Hosting half a year ago). Most participants were just happy things worked and might not have spent a lot of time thinking about the work behind "making it work". While the portfolio of Art of Hosting methods is wonderful, it is still necessary to think about the purpose of an event (in this case a Research Day for colleagues at a department), to match that purpose to one or more methods, to think of a "workflow" and then customize the methods so they seamlessly latch on to each other, fit the event (purpose, venue, time, audience etc.) and fit the purpose of the event. So we started the planning process by stating goals we aimed for:

What feeling(s) would we like participants to have when the day comes to and end:
  • New creative ideas have been born in me
  • Oops, what exciting questions person / group X is working on…
    • New contacts across team boundaries
  • Ohh, the (previously unknown to me) method I could use to…
  • I have nice colleagues

We didn't ask participants to fill out a survey (the event was about our research, but we didn't perform research on our colleagues!). We just hope the participants enjoyed the event and made new friends among their colleagues and anecdotal evidence indicates at least some did!

The MID Research Day was followed by the MID Research Day mingle (with catered food at the department). I broke off and had an important meeting with a student during the mingle and then rejoined the ten or so participants who shot the breeze after others had left. I think the event might have finished around 10 pm at night and I would say it was a success - but I'm of course both partial as well as deeply implicated!

At this point it will sound as we only did a storytelling event but here are some other Art of Hosting methods we used during the four-hour half-day event:

- We arrived in good time and prepared the room so there was a large open space and tables around the walls. We also brought some objects to furnish the room and make it less university-mandated sterile (yoga mats, a salt lamp, a sheep skin etc.)

- We then started the afternoon with a playful check-in exercise ("everyone who 100% prefers to work from home stand over there and everyone who 100% prefers to work from the office stand over there and then distribute yourselves in-between these poles" + asking a few people to explain why they chose what they chose).

- We divided the storytelling event into two parts (3 storytellers and later 2 more storytellers). Those who listened were divided into groups depending on what Focusing Question they had chosen and had time to discuss and later share their "findings" with the larger group. Everyone also wrote down insights on post-it notes that we collected on sheets of A3 papers (that we had hung on the walls). 

- We then divided people into groups of 4 and had circle conversations and where we asked participants to discuss two questions:

    - Question 1: What questions were awakened when you heard the storytellers?

    - Question 2: How do you position your own work in relation to what your team storyteller said?

At this point we gave these groups more than 30 minutes to discuss these questions and whatever else they wanted to talk about, and the majority of the groups follow Elina's lead and took an outdoor walk in the lovely weather.

- We had a final harvesting (feedback) exercise where we invited each participant to write one or two short personal letters (or notes, and by all means anonymous) with feedback to storytellers. These notes were framed as "gifts" to the storytellers and we later sorted them and put them in individual envelopes (some of the envelopes are however still waiting on my desk to be handed over to storytellers.

- We obviously had breaks throughout the day and various mini-exercises to liven things up.

Me and Arjun came prepared with a detailed schedule for the 4-hours event (see image above) and with detailed instructions for ourselves and for the participants. We started planning the event more than two months in advance and met for an hour here and there (I can find at least five meetings in the preceding 5 weeks but it could easily have been more). But it turned out great and I hope my colleagues were happy with the Research Day. I would be willing to help/advise the people who take it upon themselves to organize the next Research Day but would prefer for the responsibility to pass to another research group at the department!


tisdag 31 maj 2022

May roundup



This is also unfortunately a testament to the fact that I haven't blogged very much during the last few years because blog post #500 was published way back in January 2018. That's more than four years ago (while the gap between #400 and #500 was instead less than 18 months). I certainly hope blog post #700 will be published before the end of 2023 rather than at the end of 2025...

These centennial blog posts have been an occasion to stop, reflect and write a text about writing texts, but I won't do that this time. Since it's the end of the month I will instead (just as I did a month ago) do a roundup of things that happened in May that didn't merit full blog posts of their own (but that could have).

May Roundup

- Explorative Drama Workshop - Teaching for Sustainability in Higher Education with Eva Österlind (May 10)

Eva Österlind, Professor in Applied Drama

Me and my colleague Leif Dahlberg participated in an autumn 2021 two-day course at Stockholm University about using drama to teach sustainability in higher education. The course was very interesting and it resulted in me inviting Eva Österlind to visit our research group and give a talk earlier this year (in February). This talk created a lot of interest in our group as well as this excellent hands-on three-hour workshop. Ten persons attended, we learned a lot and we had a lot of fun! Here's the description/invitation:

An overarching purpose for all teaching is to facilitate connections between the content and each individual student. When it comes to climate change, it is a challenging topic for both teachers and students, due to the magnitude of the problem and the existential threat. In order to address the subject, but avoid simplistic approaches or defensive responses like denial, Drama for Learning seems promising.

From the global dimension to the individual 

The core idea with this drama workshop is to address the Big Issue of Sustainability with open eyes and mind without diminishing the scale of the problem – and avoid feelings of hopelessness or psychological defences. Another purpose is to explore the global – individual dimension, and begin to sort out questions of accountability. What is possible for a single person to do, and what requires decisions on a political level? The intention is that all participants acknowledge the global threats, stay open for individual responses in terms of thoughts and feelings, become more aware of systemic challenges, and still find energy to consider choices and actions within their own reach.

The workshop is designed for university students/adults with no previous drama experience, and will take 3 hours. To address the content, no specialist knowledge is needed, although it is possible to qualify the discussions by having students prepare (lectures, readings) on the topic.

Our guest teacher for the day, Professor in Applied Drama Eva Österlind, teaches Drama in Teacher Education, leads a Master program in Drama and Applied Theatre and tutors PhD-students. Her research focuses on the potential of Drama for Learning and especially Drama in Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education. Our research group is very interested and excited to work together with Eva to develop our education and this is something that will 100% happen during the next academic year!


- Collective rhizomatic analysis workshop (May 14)

Workshop participants were welcomed by an organized mess!

Eva Österlind's phd. student Julia Fries participated in and taught in the autumn 2021 two-day course I wrote about (above), and she invited me to participate in an experiment/workshop, a "collective rhizomatic analysis" (with inspiration from Deleuze and Guattari). A dozen researchers participated in the workshop of which half had a drama background and the other half had a sustainability background. 

It was a fun, but also a strange workshop where Julia both presented material she had previously collected but also used the workshop itself to collect new material. She even invited workshop participants to become co-authors of a future article. (I declined because I have too much to do and didn't understand what exactly the topic of the article would be and how I could contribute.)

An interesting coincidence is that her thinking have many points in common with our research project Beyond the Event Horizon (that I have recently written about on the blog here and here), e.g. of using methods from drama to imagine a better more sustainable future as something that we have already attained and then explore and probe what that results in in terms of both thoughts and feelings. 

Julia's advisor, Eva Östergren (see above) also participated in the workshop but took the role of an observer.


- Stand-up final exam (May 15)

I have previously written about the course in stand-up comedy I have taken during the spring and as all things must come to an end, so too did this. It ended with a final exam where we performed on stage in front of invited guests that we (the course participants) ourselves had invited.

I asked at the second to last occasion and the teacher said that we should invite as many as we could, since we would never have a better and more kind audience who would want nothing but to support us by laughing at us. So three days before the show I went bananas and invited lots and lots of people. There were thus 20 persons in the audience who came there because of me and they might in fact have constituted the major part of the audience!

It was great but also very different from the kind of talking I'm used to (lectures and seminars) and I learned so much. I have since listened to stand-up at Big Ben, a pub that has stand-up every day of the week and where I will stand on the stage after the summer (I was inspired after visiting them and I have already written new material for that occasion)!

I have also participated in another event twice in May, "public speaking". It has nothing to do with stand-up but still shares characteristics and it's organized every Sunday in central Stockholm (including during the summer!). 

- Universities total climate footprint - walking the talk (May 19)

I participated in an online Zoom seminar on "Universities total climate footprint – walking the talk" that was organized by the The Nordic Association of University Administrators (NUAS) interest group for sustainability and the Nordic Sustainable Campus Network (NSCN).

I unfortunately could not listen to the whole seminar but found a talk by Danish phd student Thomas Stridsland from Aarhus University about "Danish universities' joint work on total climate footprint accounting" very interesting!

The connection to my research is of course our Flight research project. Flying constitutes a substantial part of universities' CO2 footprint and it's interesting to listen to universities' (methodological) challenges of trying to figure out how to measure their total CO2 footprint.

- The invisible dinosaur (May 22)

Nina Wormbs, KTH professor in history of technology.

Our science + art + communication project "From Homo Sapiens to Homo Colossus: Visualising our energy footprint" was on national Swedish Radio! It was my KTH colleague, Nina Wormbs, who talked about it in the weekly news show "Godmorgon Världen" [Good morning World]. Nina had previously sent a draft of the talk to me for fact checking and I also had some suggestions for how to make the project and our results more compelling. She took my advice and did a stellar job of explaining it!

The episode is almost 5 minuts long and it's called "Den osynliga dinosaurien" [The invisible dinosaur] and it is available here (NOTE: it's in Swedish). My project colleagues are: Mario Romero (KTH visualization center), Åsa Andersson Broms (The Royal Institute of Art), Per Hasselberg (The People's Movements for Art Promotion/Konstfrämjandet) and Belinda Retourné (Changency).

- Decreased CO2 emissions from researchers' flying - what could Formas do? (May 30)

This is a talk that has been long in the making! I can track mails about this talk more than two years back, but the proposed talk was postponed several times due to Covid complications. We picked up the thread again and started to plan for the talk three months ago, back in February! Perhaps it was good that we waited because we nowadays don't just have intriguing results, but in fact also a message and perhaps even a challenge for Formas.

Formas is a government research council for sustainable development. They hand out 1800 MSEK per year (1 SEK ≈ 0.1 € / 0.1 $) and has a portfolio of ≈ 2000 ongoing research projects. We love the fact that they support research, but since (some) research is carbon intensive (because researchers fly a lot), we suggested Formas should do their part to reduce the CO2 footprint of research. So we suggested they should ask for a CO2 budget for travel when researchers submit grant applications. Formas would then be able to calculate a new metric (CO2/MSEK) for how research funds they hand out is used and take that into account when they evaluate the research grant applications. Just asking for an estimate would most probably have a self-cleansing effect among sustainability researchers asking for funds to support sustainability research

There is in fact a great example of this already happening since the large research programme Mistra Sustainable Consumption have formulated a climate target for travel, e.g. the emissions from travel should not exceed 0.5 tons of CO2e per full-time equivalent per year. It's 2022 and all (sustainability) research should be able to do the same!

- Bureaucrat mingle (May 30)

The bureaucrat's ten key words (left) and one of the key words, "curious" (right)

I thought it was hilarious when my union sent me an invitation for a "bureaucrat mingle". Since KTH is not only a university but also formally a governmental agency, I am employed by the state and can thus pass as a bureaucrat. I wanted to check out other bureaucrats and see if they (we!) were as boring as they (we!) are reputed to be.

My verdict is partly "yes" in terms of interests (many people knew a lot of rules), but they were also very interesting and the event was nice. A well known Swedish historian, Gunnar Wetterberg, gave a talk where he lauded bureaucrats. The union handed out a small booklet that he had written, "The bureaucrat's ten key words", and the key words were: 1) In the citizens' best interest, 2) Reflection and development, 3) Competence and knowledge, 4) Curious, 5) Brave, 6) Independent, 7) Integrity, 8) Legal certainty/rule of law, 9) Good judgement and 10) Responsibility.

- Last SF Lab meeting for the spring term (May 31)

We had our 10th and last team/research group lunch meeting on May 31. We would surely have had another meeting if not for the fact that many of us will be at a conference in Bulgaria in mid-June. 

We changed our name from MID4S to SF Lab this spring! We had grown out of "Media Technology and Interaction Design for Sustainability" and are now instead the "Sustainable Futures Lab"! Also, we are at the cusp of announcing our new blog (see image above).

Here is a very short summary of the spring term in the form of a list of the many great guests we had who visited us and gave talks at our team meetings:

- Martin Lindrup (PhD student at the Computer Science Department, Human-Centred Computing group, Aalborg University, Denmark) talked about "Insights about meaningful data in environmentally sustainable food consumption".

- Eva Österlind (Professor in Applied Drama, Department of Teaching and Learning, Stockholm University) talked about "Teaching for Sustainability in Higher Education - Interactive Drama Workshops".

- Emile Roch & Daphné Hamilton-Jones (Master Students in Design Research at the Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris Saclay, Télecom Paris (Institut Polytechnique) and ENSCI Les Ateliers) talked about "Exploring Co-design for Sustainibility through Design Fiction"

- Ola Leifler (PhD, Linköping University, Department of Computer Science) talked about "Reorientating an academic career to become an agent for meaningful change to societal transformation".

- Katka Katerina Cerna (Senior lecture at MDI/Applied IT, Gothenburg University) talked about "Co-design of enabling entanglements: fostering connection between people through (plant) care and sensing technology"

- Books I've read

This is yet another month when I only had time to read two books. This is less than I usually read but I again have to blame stand-up comedy. It really took a lot of my time and in particular the time when I commute. I usually reserve that time for reading, but have spent the last month thinking about stand-up, memorizing and revising stand-up texts, practicing my stand-up performance in my head and so on. The two book I read in May were anyway:

  • Helen Pluckrose & James Lindsay (2020). Cynical theories: How activist scholarship made everything about race, gender and identity.
  • Peter Boghossian & James Lindsay (2019). How to have impossible conversations: A very practical guide.


onsdag 25 maj 2022

Spring 2022 bachelor's theses


An interactive installation could for example be placed in KTH's library.

I have supervised five bachelor's theses during the spring term and the students just handed in their theses to the examiner. The students work in pairs so these 10 students will have one last chance to correct or change their thesis after the examination (next week), but the version they just handed in is what will be examined and graded (pass/fail), so it's pretty official. 

I usually supervise two groups of students but I had only one group this year. Having 10 students (5 theses) is on the other hand a quite large group. Three pairs worked with thesis proposals that came from my/our Flight research project ("Decreased CO2-emissions in flight-intensive organisations"). That means I have been both "client" as well as "advisor" and I present these three theses first. 

I have used the students' thesis abstracts as a starting point for the texts below and have shortened and simplified them, but then also added text when I felt it was necessary and also added images as I have seen fit. DO NOTE that despite the fact that these "processed abstracts" use "we" (signifying "we the students"), I have made significant changes compared to the real abstracts (primarily by shortening them but sometimes by clarifying things etc.).

The last time I wrote about the bachelors' theses I supervised was in 2020. I supervised two groups of students and wrote two blog post (one about each group; Flight theses and Homo Colossus theses).

KTH’s Fastest Professor: An Analysis of Academic Flying (Vivi Andersson & Gustav Sundin)

This thesis is inspired by KTH professor Metsola van der Wijngaart's proposal regarding academic flying, i.e. "only fly if per 0.1 ton of CO2e you emit, you spend one efficient workday at your destination". This perspective focuses on emissions per day of traveling and thus differs from (only) looking at an individual's total emissions. Based on an anonymized data set of all 2019 air travel at KTH, we analysed academic flying at KTH in terms of "emission speed" (CO2e per travel day). This thesis thus examines 1) the top 10 KTH employees who have the highest emission speed (CO2e per travel day) and 2) the 10 "top emitters" who fly the most (who rack up the most air miles and have the highest total CO2e emissions). If these groups differ, what are the travel patterns that underlie these differences?

Our analysis shows that these two lists differ significantly, with only one individual having a top 10 position in both lists. Those with high emission speeds often made a small number of trips that were often long distance, sometimes in business class, and had a short duration (e.g. traveling far and staying away for only a few days). Top emitters had made a larger number of trips, but a few short-distance long-duration trips lowered their 2019 average emission speed. Our conclusion is that emission speed can provide a different perspective compared to total emissions, and that the CO2e-per-travel-day index can be used to analyze individual trips to find candidates that might represent "unnecessary" trips, e.g. trips that could or should be avoided.

Top 10 KTH employees who have the highest emission speed (from 1200 to 650 kg CO2e per travel day). Professor C (third column) is the only person who are both this list and the list of top 10 emitters at KTH (clocking in at 21 000 kg of CO2e emissions from business trips during 2019).

Professor D is the top polluter at KTH with total of 53 000 kg of CO2e emissions from business trips during 2019. With 32 trips made during 2019, this professor has more than twice as large CO2e emissions as the second highest polluter.

Visualizing flight data for heads of departments: A tool to decrease academic flying (My Andersson & Fanny Erkhammar)

To live up to the promises made in the Paris Agreement, all countries and all organisations need to reduce their flight-related emissions. Universities (including KTH) are among the top polluters among Swedish governmental agencies. We have therefore built a prototype of a visualization tool with the aim of providing KTH heads of departments with an overview of their departments' flying. We more specifically asked "how can we, by visualizing flight data, help KTH heads of departments get an overview of their department’s air travel for the purpose of supporting decision-making that can help reduce the carbon emissions?". 

We performed interviews with participants from the target group, developed a prototype and then performed user tests with the target group. Participants were interest in the tool and came with suggestions about additional functions they would like to have. The study also however showed that the implementation and use of a tool such as this is not currently relevant due to the lack in clear guidelines from KTH about individuals or departmental CO2 emission reduction targets. This means that heads of departments currently have no foundation upon which they can base their decisions on. Such guidelines need to be developed and integrated into the tool for it to be of use to KTH heads of departments.

A large department with dozens of employees. Color = total CO2 emissions, height = number of trips. The blue figure represents KTH's goal and dark red = > 5 times more emissions that KTH's (blue) goal.

The head of the department can zoom in on individual employees. Orange windows in the plane = number of trips made this year. Grey bar (right) = average emissions at the department.

80-20: A visualization of business travel habits at KTH (Jackie Hellsten & Saga Oldenburg)

Aviation releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and it is the norm in the academic world to travel around the world to network and to spread one’s research results (and CO2 into the atmosphere). This does however not align with global attempts to lower emissions. To break the norm of flying, discussions must be held about how universities can lower their emissions from aviation. At KTH, 20% of all scientists currently contribute to 80% of all researchers' flight-related CO2 emissions. 

Our aim has been to investigate the following question: “In order to evoke reflection and discussion regarding the uneven distribution of carbon dioxide emissions from aviation amongst scientists, how can an interactive installation be designed to achieve this?”. The thesis uses Research Through Design and critical design to examine this question. Multiple interviews were held with employees at different universities in Sweden to test and evaluate how effective the prototype installation was at evoking discussion. Users guessed how aviation-related emissions are distributed amongst KTH researchers (in the installation's interactive interface) only to then have the actual distribution visualized (with dramatic effects) and where the goal was to invoke reflection through the addition of a number of provocative elements. The interviews indicated that the installation would be successful at evoking reflection and discussion about the distribution of aviation-related emissions if it were to be placed in a public space at the university.

This screen is an invitation to use the interactive installation.

The interactive installation could for example be placed in KTH's library.

The installation invites you to guess about the distribution of CO2 emissions from flying for three groups at KTH (based on 2019 pre-Covid data, see the image below); low-fliers, medium-fliers and super-fliers (in green, orange and red, and with the latter group representing 20% of all KTH researchers.

This Lorenz curve describes the distribution of CO2 emissions from flying among 2600 KTH researchers in 2019. These (yet-unpublished) research results comes from the Flight research project (see above) and constituted input to this thesis. In the previous image someone guessed the distribution of CO2 emissions from low-, medium- and super-fliers were 20% - 30% - 50%. The real distribution is 0% - 20% - 80%.

This is KTH with a blank slate at the beginning of a year.

This is KTH at the end of the year, not reaching our CO2 emission reduction targets.


The flight tower doubles as a ruler (with percent of current emissions to the left and absolute numbers - tons of CO2 - on the right side of the ruler/flight tower). The red flag represents KTH's targets for CO2 emissions from flying eight years from now (in 2030).

Adding social comparisons to carbon footprint calculators? A study in comparisons of carbon footprints between individuals (Malin Lundstedt & Marcus Gåhlin)

The Paris Agreement stipulates that average emissions of CO2e per person should be reduced to below 1 ton in 2050. In 2019, the average Swede's emissions from transport alone accounted for 1,7 tons of CO2e. Carbon footprint calculators are used to calculate an individual’s carbon footprint. Some calculators have added social comparisons (between individuals or within a group). This functionality is promising but further studies are needed and we have investigated how to add social comparisons to climate calculators' carbon footprint of transport. We more specifically examined four sub-questions among people with a strong interest in sustainability:

  • Their attitude towards finding out their carbon footprint from transport.
  • Their attitude towards comparing that footprint with others.
  • What influences their attitude.
  • What their attitude is based on.

In this qualitative study, 9 people who were intensely interested in sustainability participated in semi-structured interviews. The results showed that they were less interested in the footprint from transport and much more interested in their total carbon footprint (and how to reduce it). There was an interest in comparing their emissions with others, but this interest was also affected/tempered by 1) the level of detail in the carbon footprint (touching on privacy issues), 2) who you compare with (friends, strangers) and 3) your own emissions compared to the average. 

An example of output from a climate calculator - in this case the climate calculator Habits.

Examples of social comparisons from Strava (a training app, left) and Svalna (a climate calculator, right).

Proposal (prototype) of a profile view in a carbon calculator for travel.

Proposal (prototype) of a group view for comparing your carbon footprint for travel with others.

LCA on E-sports in Counter Strike (Henric Andersson & Nathalie Lock) 

Competitive gaming, E-sports, have become very popular, including an interest in watching competitions live and a massive interest in watching competitions over the Internet. Something that has garnered less interest is the environmental impact of these events. No life cycle assessment (LCA) of an E-sports event has been published this far, so it is impossible to say anything specific about the environmental footprint/impact of these massive events. 

We have aimed at helping to create the foundation for making a life cycle assessment of an E-sports event. Our case is a very large 13-day event around the very popular e-sports game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). The event we chose was the Pro Gaming League (PGL) Major in Stockholm 2021. Our main question is: how can 1) system function, 2) functional unit and 3) system boundaries be chosen in order to carry out a LCA of the PGL Major Stockholm 2021? This is to a large extent a literature study but two persons with deep expertise in the field have also been interviewed (the head of the national Swedish CS:GO team/captain of The Swedish E-sports Association (SESF) and the head of sponsorship (both e-sports and traditional sports such as football and ice hockey) at SESF's main sponsor Svenska Spel). 

The proposed choices (system boundaries etc.) we made resulted in a model that includes the majority of everything that occurs within the arena during the 13-day event, as well as flights, electricity consumption and water consumption from the hotels.

Earlier LCA studies of specific events provided input and inspiration, including a study of the environmental footprint of holding a three-day international academic conference (Neugebauer, Bolz, Mankaa & Traverso (2020), "How sustainable are sustainability conferences?–Comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment of an international conference series in Europe". Journal of cleaner production, 242, 118516). 

Proposed model for studying the environmental footprint of holding a thirteen-day E-sports event.


Besides the five bachelor's theses that I have supervised (above), my colleague and phd student Aksel Biørn-Hansen has, during the spring term, also supervised two master's theses that have been written within the Flight research project (Decreased CO2-emissions in flight-intensive organisations):

"Exploring the Problem Space of Implementing a Cap and Trade System in a flight-intensive academic institution" by Leo Bergqvist and "Plan, visualize, realize - a tool for budgeting and following-up a carbon budget for heads of division at a fly-intensive organization" by Albin Matson Gyllang.