torsdag 31 mars 2022

Reflections on taking up blogging + March roundup


I started this blog in 2010 and my level of ambition - then as now - has been to:

post (low-volume, aiming for a minimum of one message and a maximum of two messages per week) about my academically-related activities - for the benefit of those who wish to keep up with what I do and also for me to remember what I did last week!

Already back in 2011, I wrote a blog post about "the many functions of this blog" that has stood the test of time. When I started the blog, I had three specific uses of it in mind [the lists below have been shortened]:

- A record, or a diary of my work-related activities. Not all of them, but  since I have a job that is very varied, something interesting worth writing about happens every week. 
- A way for people to follow me [I had a fuzzy idea about who might want to follow me but I primarily thought about work colleagues].
- A place ("webpage") where I could start to keep track of and collect work- or career-related information (papers written, courses taught etc.). [An easy-access archive where I can go when I need to update my CV]

During the first months, a couple of new functions appeared:
- When I went to a workshop on "Digital media and collective action" a year ago, I found it useful to write about some highlights and to link them up in the blog. [Loose pages or links in a] notebook is soo much less useful than a blog post.
- Later, I also directed a master's student to that blog post and to some of the links. So the blog is not only a way for me to write things up and/or to allow others to follow me, but also a permanent archive to which I can direct others to specific posts.

Other functions that have appeared over time are:
- Very usual nowadays is that I write up a blog post and then, directly after it has been published, send of a link to one or half a dozen people I think or I know will be interested in the topic of that blog post.
- I also know that a few colleagues read my blog and this can make some of our meetings very effective. We can take the discussion from there instead of from scratch. 

Since I have a tendency to write very ambitious (e.g. too long) blog posts, I sometimes burn out and it becomes too much of a chore to blog. I don't know which is my longest blog post but this report from a workshop about Design Fiction at the 2014 CHI conference is almost 7000 words (40 000+ characters) long - same length as an article in an academic journal! I therefore have to guard against spending too much time writing too ambitious blog posts, and the maximum-two-blog-posts-per-week rule is a necessary (but not fail-safe) speed limit. A burn out usually results in a vacation from writing - until I feel like doing it again - and I just came back from an almost two years long break that coincided with the Covid pandemic (by far the longest break ever). But I started to blog again earlier this month and this is blog post number 584 since the start.

Something that has struck me this month is that I have more to write about now than ever before, and that's true in two different ways. There seems to be more bloggable events happening in my life now than before and it feels like the things I have written about this month have been "bigger" and more important than the contents of the average blog post from yesteryear. I think that's an effect of 2019 being the year when my research group "leveled up". That means that a few years down the road (e.g. now) there's just more things - and more important things - happening in my academic life than before. 

This being the case, I thought I would invent a new category of blog posts, "roundups", where I shortly write about stuff that happened during the month that I could have written about ("blogworthy") but didn't. These might then be things that could have become blog posts, but that for one or another reason (not overworking, not exceeding two blog posts per week) didn't. This is the first round-up and I might experiment some with the format during the following months.

March Roundup

- MID event (March 7)

For the first time in two years the division of Media Technology and Interaction Design (MID) had a get-together in our kitchen with catered food and the kitchen was crowded and people spilled over into neighboring spaces. It was really nice to see so many people together after all the cancelled Summer parties, Christmas dinners and writing camps during the last two years! There was no particular reason for the get-together besides the fact that we were allowed and haven't had a party for (literally) years


- Artificial Intelligence and Ecocide Law (March 10)

One of the panelists, Pella, invited me to this event and although it was nice, this event happened in the run-up to possibly my most hectic week ever (March 14-18, see other published blog posts), so my mind was unfortunately not 100% in the seminar. This was unfortunate because what I heard sounded really interesting!

Artificial Intelligence is an exponentially growing field of technology, a powerful force for source control and new pathways. But how do we secure that it is used in a benign way for humans and nature? Could AI be the new plastic? Can Ecocide Law be the ethical framework to govern AI in a benign direction, as a force for sustainable development?

Andre Uhl, Technology and Innovation Fellow, Harvard Planetary Health Alliance; Chair, IEEE Earth Lab.

Pella Thiel, ecologist, expert in the UN Harmony with Nature knowledge network.

Jonas Roupé, Ecocide Law Alliance.


- Minna 30% seminar (March 18)

My phd student Minna Laurell Thorslund presented her 30% seminar in mid-March and her presentation was awesome! Her seminar really should have generated a blog post of its' own, but this text will have to do as soo much else was happening that week in particular! Here's the invitation thought:

Title: HCI in service of imagination: Exploring how to support transitions toward sustainable collective practices beyond the individual

Abstract: Environmental challenges are forcing humans to rethink their place in the world. This is no small task, especially when it has been argued that we collectively suffer from a “crisis of imagination”, limiting our collective imaginaries of the future to apocalyptic disasters or dystopian technofutures. The HCI community, with its rich knowledge base and ideological advocacy of human-centred systems and values, is well positioned to facilitate important collective explorations of what it means to live and build a good life in a future of uncertainty, complexity and upheaval. Minna’s research explores how HCI, in its various forms and functions, can support collective transitions toward more sustainable practices and constellations, beyond individuals as consumers. 


- ICT4S reading group (March 18)

I was one of the organizers of the (delayed-by-a-year) Second International Summer School on ICT for Sustainability this past summer (2021). I'm not going to write about the summer school seven month after it happened, but one delightful spin-off from the summer school is a book circle where we meet online (at the breakneck speed of) once every four weeks. Jay Chen is the coordinator and this was the sixth time the book circle met. I've attended five of these meeting (and have of course read all five books!). This month we discussed Tim Jackson's book "Post growth" (see "Books I've read" below!).


- Workshop: Academic aero mobility in a post-pandemic future (March 22)

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Manchester organized a workshop on academic flying. This of course fits neatly with my research project, "Decreased CO2-emissions in flight-intensive organisations", so me and phd student Aksel Biørn-Hansen attended this online seminar together with 50+ other persons. 

This workshop aims to spark/leverage changes on the academic structures and systems, helping to build institutional alliances that leverage the requests for changes, transparency and common frameworks to work on implementing air travel policies in academic institutions. It will focus on discussing three main topics:

Group 1: Reducing academic aero mobility: Gains in accessibility, inclusivity and Justice. Ways to deliver broader access, equity and justice in research collaborations, through air-travel reductions.

Group 2: Cultural changes to decouple aero mobility from academic work. Required institutional and social changes to decouple aero mobility from international collaborations and the need for academic united alliances.

Group 3: Effective reporting to reduce academic air travel carbon emissions. Options to achieve transparent and systematic reporting of carbon emissions related to air travel associated with academic institutions;

It is expected that participants [will be] sharing their experiences, hearing and understanding others, and developing potential actions and strategies for a less flight intensive future in Academia.

I joined group 3 and Aksel joined group 2. My group produced a nice board with suggestions for actions, but the tool itself (padlet) was a bit limited and awkward to use (see image below). I could move my own post-it notes but was not allowed to move around other participants' notes, so the only person who could effectively cluster (and change shape etc.) of the notes was the organizer. That also meant we spent too little time actually talking to each other  and too much time describing which note should be moved where...  I don't know enough to know if this was a problem with the tool or a problem with the setup of the tool. With so many interesting people in the Zoom room, it definitely felt like we could have used the time better, but the workshop was still very good! 

One super-great outcome of attending this workshop though was that we decided we (our research project) would organize our own online workshop in September. More on that later...


- MID4S Reboot (March 24)

As with the MID event (above), our team/research group hasn't met physically altogether for a very long time, so we had a half-day "Reboot" that my colleague Elina and phd students Aksel and Arjun organized according to principles from Art of Hosting. There were nine persons at the event and the organization was excellent! We all felt welcome and seen and it created a lot of can-do energy in the group! 

Two very concrete outcomes of this workshop was that we will restart our research group blog next month and we will change the name of the group. The name MID4S - Media Technology and Interaction Design for Sustainability - has served us well within the department (MID) for the better part of 10 years, but is not so great when we want to communicate within the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, to say nothing about communicating who we are and what we do outside of our School and outside of KTH. I will write more about the new blog and about the new name later!


- Data Workshop (March 29)

We have a guest in our research group, Martin Lindrup, who is a phd student at Aalborg University, Denmark. Martin arrived in the beginning of February and will stay until the summer and he is hosted by my colleague Rob Comber. Martin organized a workshop that I attended about "how to make data more meaningful in the context of sustainability", a topic that is very much in line with his 2021 article "One Byte at a Time: Insights about Meaningful Data for Sustainable Food Consumption Practices". 

Referring to Martin's workshop is however just a pretext for presenting Martin (something that should have been done in a February blog post - except I didn't write any blog posts in February). Martin gave a talk at one of our semiweekly research group lunch meeting in the beginning of February and here's how he presented himself and the topic of his research:

Speaker: Martin Lindrup, PhD student at the Computer Science Department (Human-Centred Computing group) at Aalborg University, Denmark.

Title: Insights about meaningful data in environmentally sustainable food consumption

Description: Environmental data have been fundamental in shaping our perception about the state of the world. In the form of e.g. carbon footprints, food miles, organic labels, data (note: using the term data is to emphasize the strangeness and different interpretations that people have toward these concepts) have also been used for informing environmentally (un)sustainable ways of eating. However, these data may not fully capture the experiences that people have with food and sustainability. With this talk, I seek to provide insights about how to make data about food sustainability more meaningful for people from the perspective that data are formed by socio-technical circumstances.

About me: I am a PhD student working within the field of Human-Computer Interaction. My background is a mix between techno-anthropology and IT development and design. The project that I work on revolves around digital technologies, data, and sustainable food consumption. I do mainly qualitative research from a Research through Design approach. 


- Books I've read (March 31). 

For a very long time I wrote blog posts about "Books I've read". That's another task that went out of hand and in the end became too ambitious (and arduous). Not only did I write about the books I had read, but I started to post one or two quotes from book I currently reading on Facebook each day. I then wrote about the books I had recently read and also pasted literally a dozen or more quotes from each book. So then it became too much and I stopped. The last blog post about "books I've read" can be found here, but do note that I at that time was one year behind in writing about the books I had "recently" read, i.e. that blog post was published in April 2018 but treated books that I had read one year earlier (Feb-April 2017)... 

I have continued to read books since 2017, and since I read 30-35 books per year on average, that's upwards to 150 books I haven't written about at all on the blog and won't write about - which is the pity. It is however possible to find out what books I read for the better part of a decade by following the last blog post backwards in time (each such blog post is linked backwards). I might start to write about "Books I've read" at some point, but will for now only list the books I have finished reading during the month in question. Since March has been an extremely hectic month work-wise (just read all the blog posts!), I have now and then slacked off a bit and not kept up the schedule that guides my book reading habit, and have thus "only" finished two academic books this month:

  • Steffen Lange & Tilman Santarius (2020). Smart Green World?: Making Digitalization Work for Sustainability
  • Tim Jackson (2021). Post growth: Life after capitalism.


söndag 27 mars 2022

From (e-)wasteland to Repair Society (paper)


The previous blog post was about a paper of our that has been accepted to the upcoming 8th International Conference on ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S). The conference will (still) be held in Bulgaria between June 13-17 and we (still) plan to go there by train.

Well, it turns out we actually had a second paper accepted to the conference, "From (e-)wasteland to Repair Society: Exploring ICT repair through speculative scenarios". (Our research group in fact had a third paper accepted to the conference but I don't know the title of phd student Yann Seznec's paper, nor am I a co-author so I won't write about that paper in my blog). "From (e-)wasteland to Repair Society" is written by Minna Laurell Thorslund, Sahra Svensson-Hoglund, Daniel Pargman and Elina Eriksson. This is my phd student Minna's first paper as first author!

This paper builds on (step 1) a cooperation between Minna and repair and circular economy and sustainable biomaterial Virginia Tech phd student Sarah Svensson-Höglund. They both took a phd course in September - October last year, "Making sustainable futures - An introduction to futures studies and scenario techniques" (taught by our ex-colleague Josefin Wangel). I think it's fair to say that Sarah took the lead in writing the course paper in the futures studies course since it concerned "her topic" (repair). Minna however also took the phd course that me and Elina were teaching all through the autum, FDM3506 ICT and Sustainability, and for the (step 2) course paper she then reworked and extended her and Sarah's previous work and also made it more about ICT (e.g. reframing their work and and placing it in an ICT context). Step 3 happened when me and Elina stepped in (e.g. after our phd course had finished) and helped develop Minna's course paper into a full conference paper. 

I'd say this paper is very much a service to the community. By analyzing what (little) has been published in the area of repair and outlining issues and questions that we as a community could (should) look into. Why recycle materials when we can intercept the waste stream at an earlier stage and recycle (repair) devices that have a much higher value (than the materials they consist of)?


Circularity in how we handle resources and materials is a key ambition in many sustainability initiatives and policies. Yet, when it comes to the circularity of ICT, much research tends to focus on how raw materials are sourced and later recycled. E-waste has represented the fastest growing waste stream globally for years, and the vast majority is not handled appropriately. In a society where repair is possible, accessible and the normative response to the breakage of devices, this waste stream could be dramatically reduced. In this paper, we describe and discuss the results of a literature review of how repair of ICT has been approached in the proceedings of previous ICT4S conferences (2013–2020). The findings are then analysed in relation to a set of speculative future Repair Society scenarios, which were developed to inform policy recommendations. The paper contributes to the ICT4S community by: 1) identifying aspects of ICT repair that have been studied to date; 2) using the Repair Society scenarios to generate insights and reflect on gaps in the research; and 3) outlining insights and suggestions of areas that could fruitfully be explored by the ICT4S community in future research.


onsdag 23 mars 2022

Addressing students’ eco-anxiety when teaching sustainability in computing education (paper)


Our article, "Addressing students’ eco-anxiety when teaching sustainability in computing education" has been accepted for publication at the upcoming 8th International Conference on ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S). The conference will be held in the second largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv, between June 13-17 and some of us plan to go there by train (more info to come).

The article has no less than six authors: Elina Eriksson, Anne-Kathrin Peters, Daniel Pargman, Björn Hedin, Minna Laurell Thorslund and Sandra Sjöö. Elina, me and Minna work at the Division of Media Technology and Interaction Design (MID), while our co-authors Anne-Kathrin and Björn work at the Department of Learning in Engineering Science. Sandra is a KTH master's student, she was our Teaching Assistant in November - December and she has also been involved in the mini-project that generated material for this paper.

The background of the paper is that we wrote an application for a small pedagogical project at the end of May last year, "Sustainability and the emotionally competent engineer". We asked for a sliver of money (125 000 SEK) to further develop our course DM2573 Sustainability and Media Technology. To be able to define and implement small projects based on our own pedagogical interests is one of the most rewarding ways of taking responsibility for furthering my/our own pedagogical education! It's also very rewarding to document what we have learned in a project like this, to analyze our pedagogical insights and to write a paper that might inspire other teachers! 

In this particular case, a successful project also harbored the promise of beneficial effects not just for us but also for KTH more generally, since we teamed up with researchers a the unit Learning in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at the Department of Learning in Engineering Science (KTH/ITM School). Björn Hedin (Associate professor in Learning in Engineering Science with a focus on Integrating Sustainable Development) helped write the application and we also invited Anne-Kathrin Peters to join the project (she was hired as an Associate professor in Technology Education with a focus on Sustainability after we wrote the application). Both Björn and Anne-Kathrin worked for free in the project since their work efforts could be construed to be part of their ordinary jobs (and thus paid for by their own division). There's thus the benefit of possibly being able to incorporate results from this project into KTH’s pedagogical courses, for example LH215V Learning for Sustainable Development which Björn is responsible for.

The text below constitutes about 30% of the text in the application (translated from Swedish):

"To acknowledge and accept facts about the challenges we face by reading texts about species extinction (Almond et al. 2020) or tipping points for the climate (Steffen et al. 2018) can provoke strong emotional reactions. This is something we ourselves have experienced among our students and in our sustainability education; some students feel it's “unfair” that their future probably does not look as bright as that of the parent generation (Pargman & Eriksson 2013), and some students have said that course materials that describes major problems that humanity face have made them feel at least some degree of climate anxiety (Eriksson & Pargman 2017).

KTH is at the forefront of integrating sustainability into our educational programs, but then usually with a focus on technological or societal transformations and on verifiable facts. In our own teaching, we have however allowed for and encouraged discussions also about opinions and values (Eriksson & Pargman 2014). However, we have not seriously considered the necessary "inner transition" or the competencies that today are often placed outside of the conventional role of engineers, but that are needed to be able to approach, take on and speed up the transition into a more sustainable society (see for example There is also research that indicates that engineers need to become better at both theoretical and practical skills, e.g. concerning empathy (Rasoal et al., 2012). [...]

With this application, we want to apply for funding to develop a course module that will help students reflect on sustainability challenges on a deeper level [including but not limited to intergenerational justice, social sustainability, gender equality etc.]. At the same time, we want to highlight the importance of issues related to emotional reactions of being confronted with images of the future that are characterized by increased complexity and uncertainty."

We got the funding we applied for and the money basically paid for 10% of phd student Minna's annual salary. This meant she could legitimately spend something like 150 - 200 hours working on this project (e.g. reducing her ordinary teaching load correspondingly). The activity Minna led was about planning a parallell and voluntary "side-track" or “intervention” in the course, as well as a study of this intervention. The side-track activity was offered to all students who took the course and seven students chose to sign up for it. It also generated a lot of materials, but this paper is however not about the side-track but about the changes and the effects that acknowledging eco-anxiety had in the ordinary course that around 80 students took. So there will be (at least) one more paper written about the cutting-edge, experimental side-track activity/intervention that happened in Nov-Dec and in parallell with the ordinary course (which is the topic of this paper). 

Below is the abstract of the just-accepted paper. The paper will be available to read sometime this coming summer.


The widespread awareness, sense of urgency and helplessness regarding the ongoing sustainability crisis (climate change, biodiversity loss etc.) can evoke feelings of grief, sorrow, despair and anxiety. Those emotions are seldom discussed in computing or in computing education. They can have detrimental effects on the well-being of students and others, and also lead to inaction. But concern can on the other hand also be a catalyst for learning. In this paper, we present results and reflections from a research and development project in our introductory course to sustainability and ICT focusing on emotions in sustainability education. We focus on “eco-anxiety” and ask: 1) How is eco- anxiety communicated by students and teachers?, 2) In what ways do students receive support to deal with eco-anxiety?, 3) What could be done to better address eco-anxiety in computing education? We here present an analysis of how we have seen, and responded to eco-anxiety, which activities that have been added to the course, and an evaluation of these interventions. The results are based on joint reflections that have been guided by literature, a small-scale ethnographic study as well as a course evaluation. The paper will end with recommendations for other ICT4S educators on how they can start addressing eco-anxiety in their education.


söndag 20 mars 2022

My docent application


I held my docent lecture last week (it will be the topic of an upcoming blog post), but since becoming a docent is a pretty big thing, I have divided this event into two separate blog posts where this blog post discusses the docent application process (and my own docent application) and a forthcoming blog post treats the docent lecture (which was recorded and will be made available on the Internet). 

I submitted my docent application at the end of October, e.g. five months ago and the official document (the actual decision) was signed on February 4. So processing the application takes a few months, but some might have heard through the grapevine that the application itself was delayed by several years. Is there any truth to those rumors? Yes there is. But after having put it off for years - apparently eight years according to the calculations done by my current and my previous head of the department - I'm now officially a docent. So what's a "docent" (you might ask)? First of all it's an academic title and a mark of competence rather than an employment, so I'm still also an associate professor, and nothing has changed in my job description or my day-to-day activities and responsibilities. It can be compared to having completed your ph.d. studies - you then have a new title but it doesn't necessarily confer you with a job. Being a docent in a Scandinavian country is (Wikipedia) "the second highest grade in the Swedish academic system, the highest being (full) professor" and it is often translated into English as "Reader" and into French as "Maître de conférences" (MCF). While the term "docent" is widespread in German-speaking countries, it apparently means something slightly different there ("having the right to teach" etc.).

"In Sweden [...] The title is [...] awarded to people employed as [...] Associate Professor [...] with a distinguished international reputation after a rigorous review of their research." I can attest to the rigorousness of the review - and that is one of, if not the main reasons it took me so long. Another reason is that I haven't felt a great need to have a title that doesn't actually change any part of the job I do. The main reason I finally went through the process is however that I have to be docent in order to officially be the main supervisor of my two doctoral students, Aksel Biørn-Hansen and Minna Laurell Thorslund (I'm currently also the co-supervisor of two other ph.d. students, Petra Jääskeläinen and Joe Llewellyn). Being the main supervisor of doctoral students (and pulling in the money to hire them in the first place) is also one of the main requirements to becoming a full professor in Sweden. Also very cool is that I had the opportunity to alter my job title in the process so that I am now not only an "associate professor in media technology" but also a "docent in media technology with a specialization in sustainability"

Wikipedia also states that "For conferment of the title, there is a requirement that the researcher has a good overview of their research area and has demonstrated both the ability to formulate research problems and to independently carry through research programs. It is a requirement that the researcher should be able to lead research projects. The researcher must have substantial scientific research experience and be well published in scientific journals." I have heard that the rule of thumb is that you have to have published something that is equivalent to or exceeding two "additional" ph.d. theses. I did that years ago but have at each point in time preferred and prioritized writing yet another article rather than jumping through the hoops and completing a very detail-oriented application where I have to write one page about my "profile as a teacher in higher education" as well as exhaustively describe 1) Teaching experiences, 2) Teaching aid production, 3) Education administration and management, 4) Collaboration within study programme, 5) Teaching of general skills, 6) Bachelor’s and master’s level supervision, 7) Supervision at doctoral level, 8) Other pedagogical activities, 9) Education and outreach presentations, 10) Development of e-learning, 11) Other pedagogical merits, as well as demonstrating my theoretical knowledge (2 pages), my "approach" (1/2 page), my "proficiency as a teacher" (besides everything already stated and at this point I wrote "I don’t want to repeat myself and believe that everything that needs to be said has already been said in the preceding half a dozen pages") and "educational development work/projects" (1.5 pages). The whole application (without appendices) was around 16 500 (extremely carefully chosen and lovingly assembled) words broken down into research (>50% - most important), education (35%) and management (10%). 

Proving that you are a competent (or dare I say "good") teacher here involves writing pages upon pages of text about how good a teacher you are, how your ideas about teaching have been shaped by experiences, thoughts and readings and how much you have read and thought about teaching (which pedagogical theories/traditions you align with - I chose to emphasize constructivist (Piaget and Bruner) and socio-cultural (Vygotsky, Lave, Wertsch, Cole, Säljö) theories of learning in my application), how experienced and successful you are as a teacher, how many courses you have developed and/or taught, how much you have cooperated with other teaches in your teaching, how many students you have supervised, how much you like to teach, how much you like and care about your undergraduate, graduate and ph.d. students, how much you love to deliver high-quality content/help students grow intellectually/teach things that will be useful in their future jobs and make them more employable when they graduate from KTH. I could go on...

Absent from this process is however any kind of process to try to ascertain that what I write is actually true - for example by attending a lecture or a seminar of mine, sitting down to discuss a course that I'm currently responsible for, talking to colleagues that I work with or interviewing current or previous students that have taken my courses or that have been supervised by me. Any and all of these methods would seem to represent common sense "low-cost" and "quality-assured" ways to go about to ascertain my qualities as a teacher - but what do I know about these things? I'm sure nobody would say they are a good teacher if they actually weren't (or at least thought they were). I'm also quite sure KTH would never confer the title of being a docent to a "bad" (non-top talent) teacher who doesn't much care for the students - and I can prove it! In the process of writing my docent application, I have looked at several other applications, and my unequivocal conclusion is that I'm fortunate to work with what must obviously be some of the very best teachers in all of Sweden! I'm also quite certain this impression of mine would not be weakened no matter how many additional docent applications I read!

As to writing about teaching, I'm quite happy about this paragraph (which fits with my inspiration from and support of constructivist and socio-cultural theories of learning):

"While Covid restrictions and Zoom teaching has been an interesting challenge, the fact that some now believe that much or all education could be moved online without any detrimental effects on the quality of teaching and learning is in my opinion a rash conclusion [note: I could have used stronger words than the very diplomatic term "rash", e.g. "less well thought through" or hinting that people who believe this sometimes lean towards being "unlucky" in their thinking]. That fact that some teaching easily can be moved online might say less about the general quality of “Zoom education” and more about missed pedagogical opportunities of ordinary routinized campus-based teaching and learning. If there is little difference between activities on Zoom versus activities in a physical classroom, it might very well be the case that we have not utilized all affordances that co-presence in classrooms has to offer."

I apparently also practice early 1980's management philosophies in/around my teaching:

"The Media Technology engineering students have their own premises (“section room”) on campus and during intensive periods of teaching, I take the opportunity to pass by a few times to make myself available for students in an informal setting [e.g. at the weekly student-organized pub] and with the added possibility that I might receive invaluable informal feedback on the course I teach (e.g. not usually captured in course evaluations [e.g. "I hated your course, there was too much to read but you should try stand-up comedy"]). This approach shares similiarities with the management philosophy “management by walking around” (Peters & Waterman 1982)." 

Note: I have taken the comment about stand-up to heart and will start the course next month. I am currently negotiating the terms for a gig at the media technology student pub sometime before the summer (end of May?). Remember where you heard it first when I have my own Netflix Christmas comedy stand-up special! Also; thanks to Rob for helpful input (already at this early stage of my career) about creating my very own rags-to-riches storyline (struggling to get gigs, overcoming these obstacles [student pub], struggling to get people to laugh, overcoming these obstacles [using my lectures at KTH and any conversation with colleagues as practice session], struggling to get airtime, overcoming these obstacles [bribing or going to bed with the right people], struggling to get Netflix to agree to my non-negotiable conditions for a Christmas comedy stand-up special, overcoming these obstacles [haven't figured that one out yet but you bet I will be merciless in the negotiations], struggling to become prime minister of Sweden, overcoming these obstacles [close study/deep reading of the classic 1980's BBC political satire "Yes Minister", Julia Louis-Dreyfus as "Veep" and obviously also Zelensky's "Servant of the People"]). After that, the sky is the limit!

Writing the management part of the application was also a bit painful; "describe your leadership profile" (2+ pages), "management education", "management tasks and administration" and more. But I wrote some about a topic that has fascinated me for 20+ years, namely what what constitutes a creative environment and how I can contribute towards the goal of creating and supporting such (research) environments. I also managed to sneak in some not-very-covert critique in my application (which represents my idea of having fun). Here's my favorite formulation (backed up by references a-plenty):

"Academic leadership has been compared to the task of “herdig cats” and despite the fact that such questions have been a long-term interest of mine, I have to admit that I am still undecided about the appropriate balance between a top-down line organization and bottom-up creative self-organizing research groups [possibly true (?) when I wrote the application quite some months ago but definitely less so now - I used to be undecided but now I'm not so sure any longer]. I have read up on what characterizes creative (scientific) environments (Leebaert & Dickinson 1991, Törnqvist 2004) and on the perils of New Public Management and “admin society” (Strathern 2000 ["Audit cultures: Anthropological studies in accountability, ethics, and the academy"], Forsell & Ivarsson Westerberg, Graeber 2015 ["The Utopia of rules: On technology, stupidity, and the secret joys of bureaucracy"], Paulsen 2015, Alvesson & Spicer 2016 ["The stupidity paradox: The power and pitfalls of functional stupidity at work" - which is a follow-up to their 2012 article "A Stupidity‐Based theory of organizations"], Bornemark 2018, Bornemark 2020), and I lean towards believing that KTH and Swedish higher education currently is over-regulated and over-administered (e.g. sharing several well-know problems with Swedish health care, public education and the police). It sometimes seems like we have perfected our processes at KTH to such a degree that they become nearly unworkable (for exampel recruiting new faculty, a process that can be so rigorous and slow that other faster universities snatch our best applicants). At other times there seems to be broad agreement that “something doesn’t work”, but actual change is exceedingly hard. This has led me to acknowledge (but not embrace) a cynical view of leadership (not restricted to the academic environment) where it’s easier to kick in open doors (spend much energy on easy or uncontroversial problems) while simultaneously avoiding harder, more important but “inconvenient” problems. In this I have been inspired by readings from “critical management studies” (Boltanski & Chiapello 2005) and in particular by Mats Alvesson’s texts (2012, 2013, 2016, 2019)."

I also used the docent application as a vehicle to try to make sure I would not easily be promoted to an academic leadership role beyond leading a research group. A UK full professor and previous Head of School stated that this text could have stopped my promotion at his university, so I guess I'm lucky it probably got lost among all the verbiage I produced:

"When I took the Life- and Career planning course (LoK) that KTH offers through the HR consultancy Starck & Partners, I thought long and hard about my strengths and weaknesses as an academic leader. One conclusion I have drawn is that while I enjoy leading a research group, my inclination is to stay out of positions of (higher) management. I am well aware of my own limitations and while I can be diplomatic, I do have a hard time dealing with that which is illogical or unreasonable, or to turn a blind eye to issues than an organization might find inconvenient and would prefer not to deal with."

I certainly hope that others see that I try to prove this (and back it up) on a near daily basis as well as in blog posts such as this! I would obviously be a terrible head of [X], director of [Y] or member of committee [Z] because who knows what I might write about X, Y and Z on my blog? I'm literally the definition of a "loose cannon" and I join Richard Feynman in suggesting that we should instead "Let George do it"!

The last part of the process involved listing and submitting 10 publications of mine. Selecting them and justifying the selection was actually a lot of fun! I wonder though if anyone actually read any of these papers in the docent application process, or if the act of listing them was enough to "prove" what a good researcher I am?

Below are ten selected publications. My reasoning for choosing these specific publications are as follows:

- Four texts are published in academic journals and the other six texts are published at conferences. Three of the conference papers have been published at the most prestigious conference in my field (CHI).

- I am the first author of six of these publications, the second author of two publications and the third author of the remaining two publication. I have either lead the work or had a large impact on all of these texts. Three of texts have more than three authors, but I was the first author and led the work on all of these texts.

- All ten publications are the result either of international collaborations (6 have co-authors in other countries), national collaborations (6 have co-authors at other Swedish universities) or collaborations with researchers at other Schools at KTH (2 texts).

- Both the papers that were mentioned in “2.3. Evaluation of own scientific field” are listed below (#3, #7) and one of these papers (#7) got an “Honorable Mention” (top 5% of papers) at the prestigious CHI conference.

- Nine publications are situated in the intersection of sustainability and computing. Eight of these have been published during the last five year (2017-2021) and thus represent recent reseach output of mine.

- One text (#10) represents my earlier research interests (social media, computer games) and it is one of my most cited papers. 

In terms of the three research areas mentioned under “3.2 planned research activities”, four texts (#1, #6, #7, #9) represent my interest in “conceptualizing the relationship between HCI/computing and sustainability” and four texts (#2, #4, #5, #8) represent my methodological contributions in the intersection of HCI and Futuring/Futures Studies. Three of the texts below (#1, #3, #9) represent contributions to Sustainable HCI design concepts. 

- Not well represented below (with the exception of #2) are publications that represent output from the three research projects I lead (which all started either at the end of 2019 and in 2020. Such publications are either in press, e.g. one book chapter [REF] and one journal article [REF], or in preparation (several).

#1. Hansson, L., Cerratto Pargman, T. & Pargman, D. (2021). A Decade of Sustainable HCI: Connecting SHCI to the Sustainable Development Goals In Proceedings of the CHI 2021 Conference. ACM. 

#2. Bendor, R., Eriksson, E., & Pargman, D. (2021). Looking backward to the future: On past-facing approaches to futuring. Futures, 125, 102666. DOI:

#3. Widdicks, K., Pargman, D., & Björk, S. (2020). Backfiring and favouring: how design processes in HCI lead to anti-patterns and repentant designers. In Proceedings of the 11th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Shaping Experiences, Shaping Society (NordiCHI). ACM 

#4. Pargman, D. S., Eriksson, E., Bates, O., Kirman, B., Comber, R., Hedman, A., & van den Broeck, M. (2019). The future of computing and wisdom: Insights from Human–Computer Interaction. Futures, 113, 102434. DOI:

#5. Pargman, D., Eriksson, E., Höök, M., Tanenbaum, J., Pufal, M., & Wangel, J. (2017). What if there had only been half the oil? Rewriting history to envision the consequences of peak oil. Energy Research & Social Science, special issue on Narratives and storytelling in energy and climate change research. Volume 31, pp.170-178. 

#6. Pargman, D., & Wallsten, B. (2017). Resource Scarcity and Socially Just Internet Access over Time and Space. Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Computing Within Limits, pp. 29-36. ACM. 

#7. Raghavan, B., & Pargman, D. (2017). Means and Ends in Human-Computer Interaction: Sustainability through Disintermediation. In Proceedings of the CHI 2017 Conference. ACM. Honorable mention.

#8. Pargman, D., Eriksson, E., Höjer, M., Gunnarsson Östling, U., & Aguiar Borges, L. (2017). The (Un)sustainability of Imagined Future Information Societies. In Proceedings of the CHI 2017 Conference. ACM. 

#9. Pargman, D., & Raghavan, B. (2014). Rethinking sustainability in computing: From buzzword to non- negotiable limits. In Proceedings of the 8th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI). ACM, pp. 638-647. 

#10. Pargman, D., & Jakobsson, P. (2008). Do you believe in magic? Computer games in everyday life. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 11(2), 225-244.


torsdag 17 mars 2022

Reduced emissions from business travel (new research grant application)


I am the Principal Investigator (PI = "project leader") for a three-year research project, "Decreased CO2-emissions in flight-intensive organisations: from data to practice", but we usually just refer to it as our "FLIGHT" project. The other project members are Markus Robèrt, Elina Eriksson, Jarmo Laaksolahti and Aksel Biørn-Hansen, and despite the fact that I've had a two year long break in my blogging, I wrote a number of blog posts about this research project back then (see for example Jan 2019, Nov 2019, Jan 2020, Feb 2020, March 2020, March 2020 again, April 2020May 2020). That project will however end later this year, but we want to continue and to scale up our research! So when we saw there was a new call for applications in the very same research program (with the slightly-too-long title "Contribute to a faster transition to a transport-efficient society"), we jumped on it and I submitted our proposal on Wednesday - with 42 minutes to spare before the deadline (at midnight).

Our new application is called "Reduced emissions from business travel: Joint efforts to achieve Swedish universities’ climate goals" ["Minskade utsläpp från tjänsteresor: Gemensam kraftsamling för att nå lärosätenas klimatmål"] and it is hands-down the most ambitions research grant application I have submitted this far. Here's the 150 words/1000 characters summary of the project:

"Flying accounts for a large part of Swedish universities’ GHG emissions and it has proved difficult to reduce them. In an earlier project we identified a gap between climate targets and action plans that actually meet the targets. Yet the Paris Agreement, the Climate Framework for Swedish Higher Education Institutions and the latest regulatory letter from the Swedish government stipulate that universities have to reduce their emissions. This project aims to build upon earlier work and in collaboration with 16 Swedish universities develop a toolbox that provides them with knowledge and concrete tools to reach their climate targets. This includes development of our workshop methodology, standardized ways to chart, measure, understand, visualize, present, and compare CO2 emissions from flying as well as tailored policy recommendations. Project results will be of value for universities in Sweden and abroad, as well as for other governmental agencies and flight-intensive organizations."

Having poured over data and and having studied our own academic flying at KTH Royal Institute of Technology for a few years, we have come to wonder how representative KTH is compared to other Swedish universities (or other European universities, or other technical universities (polytechnics/institutes of technology)). So we now "go bigger" and we invited all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Sweden to join our proposed research project - and 16 did! Our partnering HEIs/universities in this project are (from north to south and from east to west:
A 17th university got in touch and wanted to join the project on the very day the application was to be handed in, but I unfortunately had to turn them down (the budget would have needed to be reworked and resubmitted and there just wasn't time). We do however in fact have a 17th project partners that isn't a university, but rather the The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. What is cool about having them as a project partner is that all HEIs are mandated to report their climate data (including CO2 emissions from flying) to them on an annual basis. The majority of the top ten governmental agencies that flies the most in Sweden are in fact big universities - and most of those universities are project partners in our application. It's hard to see how the project consortium could have been stronger - but I did in fact try to also recruit the Ministry of Education, who, in their just-out annual "regulation letter" ["regleringsbrev"] to all Swedish HEIs required them to work with "reducing their emissions from business travel". The Ministry of Education however declined since they are "too political" and didn't think it was appropriate for them to be part of a specific research project - despite their interest in this specific issue. I totally understand them passing us up - no hard feelings - and especially with this being an election year and all...

So we have 17 project partners, but we also have an 18th "cooperation partner" and that is "The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions", SUHF. The Association was founded in 1995 and 37 universities and university colleges in Sweden are members (16 universities, 17 university colleges and 4 university art colleges). That means we can reach the remaining HEIs (that are not part of our project) through SUHF. The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions in fact have various expert and working groups including a just-formed "The Climate Network" group. The Climate Network will work with various climate-related issues at all Swedish HEIs, and reducing CO2 emissions from flying is one of the specific issues they will work with - so we have heavily overlapping interests. It could even be that our research project (from their perspective) can be seen as their "extended arm". We obviously haven't worked out the details because the Climate Network is just now starting up, and we of course don't know if our application will be approved, but everything is set up, the stars are aligned - and this could be the start of a beautiful friendship. 

It in fact looks like several factors pulls this issue (reduced emissions from business travel/academic flying) in the same direction. There is of course 1) the Paris Agreement, 2) the 2022 regulation letter from the Ministry of Education, 3) the Climate Framework for Swedish Higher Education Institutions and 4) The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions' (SUHF's) Climate Network - as well as 5) our own earlier work that has helped us deepen our understanding of academic flying and hone our tools to practically work with these issues. So we hope our application will be approved - which we will find out sometime between June and October. If approved, our project would run for two years between 2023-2024. We think the project has the potential to help Swedish Higher Education Institutions lead the (necessary) transition to a sleeker future-proofed low-flying/low-emitting Anthropocene Academy - e.g. an academy where we do things differently (exact details remain to be figured out). We also hope the project results could serve as inspiration for universities abroad as well as for other Swedish governmental agencies and flight-intensive organizations in general. The Paris Agreement implies that we need to reduce our emissions by 50% every decade between 2020 to 2050 and if not now and if not here and if not us (in Sweden, at our Higher Education Institutions), then when and where will it happen and who will lead and speed up this (potentially painful but) necessary transition? I think it is time for a "small win" here in Sweden that could inspire others to follow our lead!

It's a bit hard to cut-and-paste text from the application since it is written in Swedish, but here's the most reference-heavy part for those researchers who want to know how we ground and orient ourselves in relation to previous research in the area:

In recent decades, CO2 emissions from travel in general (Bows-Larkin 2015) and from aviation in particular have increased markedly (Chakravarty et al. 2009, Cohen et al. 2011, Gössling & Humpe 2020, Kamb & Larsson 2018) and flying has become a natural part of the academic culture and of the job of successful researchers (Baer 2019, Glover et al. 2018, Higham et al. 2019, Hopkins et al. 2019, Parker & Weik 2014, Storme et al. 2017). While it is necessary to reduce universities' emissions from business travel (Cames et al. 2015, Glover et al. 2017, Higham & Font 2020, Le Quéré et al. 2015), the problem is thus extremely difficult; there are, on the one hand, legitimate reasons for researchers to travel as part of their jobs (to network and disseminate research results, etc.), but researches are, on the other hand, "bearers of truth" and originators of formulated climate goals, and they should thus lead by example in order to remain credible (Attarai et al. 2016, Attarai et al. 2019).

Academic flying is a topic that is increasingly discussed (Braun & Rödder 2021, Bjørkdahl & Franco Duharte 2022). In the last decade, a number of different studies have examined specific aspects such as the carbon footprint of a specific academic conference (Desiere 2016, Jäckle 2022, Orsi 2012), the carbon footprint of moving academic conferences online (Coroama et al. 2012, Jäckle 2021, Klöwer et al. 2020 ), the carbon footprint of a research article (Spinellis & Louridas 2013, Song et al. 2016), the carbon footprint of an individual research project (Achten et al. 2012, Waring et al. 2014, Aujoux et al. 2021), the carbon footprint of a research lab (Stohl 2008, Jahnke et al. 2020), carbon footprint in specific academic disciplines (Grant 2018, Eriksson et al. 2020, Chalvatzis & Ormosi 2020, Passalacqua 2021) and a single university's carbon footprint (Larsen et al. 2013, Wynes et al. 2019, Ciers et al. 2019, Ahonen et al. 2021). A large-scale French initiative is developing a set of (open source) tools to calculate the carbon footprint of a research lab (with tens or a few hundred members) (Mariette et al. 2021).

Our own previous research shows that the CO2 footprint from flying is very unevenly distributed and that those 20% of employees who fly the most at KTH are responsible for 89% of the total CO2 emissions (Pargman et al. 2020, Pargman et al. 2022, see also Appendix 1). If we assume that similar patterns recur in other contexts (e.g. academic flying is very unevenly distributed both within and between departments), this indicates that it will not be possible to achieve universities' ambitious sustainability goals unless those who fly the most reduce their flying. A positive interpretation, however, is that if you can get a smaller number of individuals to reduce their flying, any university's emissions can be significantly reduced. The conclusions that we have drawn based on analyses of KTH flight data correlates with what others have written about but on a global level using terms like “carbon inequality” (Barros & Wilk 2021, Chancel & Piketty 2015, Gore 2015, Gore 2020, Ivanova & Wood 2020)."

For more information about what we have done in the FLIGHT project, read our just-out 2022 book chapter “Who gets to fly?” (pdf here) from the publicly available open access book "Academic Flying And The Means Of Communication", or our 2021 paper “Exploring the Problem Space of CO2 Emission Reductions from Academic Flying” (pdf here).

måndag 14 mars 2022

Art of Hosting: Harvesting conversations that matter


This has been a very hectic week - possibly the most hectic week ever (e.g. more blog posts to come). So I back-date this blog post a few days and pretend it was written on Monday. So what happened on Monday? 

We just finished the last day of the three-day course about Art of Hosting and co-creation methods for "the academy" (formally organized by Karlstad University, here's more official info about the course). The backstory is that my colleague Elina Eriksson took a similar course a year ago. That was during Covid and it was held online, but she said it was single best planned and executed event she had attended during two years of Covid lockdowns. And then there was the really great course contents. In just so many words, she thought it was amazing. We were then very fortunate, and in the beginning of December (in the lull between Covid Delta and Covid Omikron), a three-day off-line course was offered near Stockholm and not only did Elina take the course again, but she also convinced me as well and our three ph.d. students Aksel Biørn-HansenMinna Laurell Thorslund and Arjun Rajendran Menon to take the course. The course was very interesting and inspiring, and co-creation tools, methods and models from Art of Hosting will certainly be a topic that will reoccur regularly on the blog from now on. It will in fact play an important role in the new masters programme (and not the least in the course "Leading complex change processes") that I wrote about in the previous blog post

So Elina had at that time (December) taken two Art of Hosting courses, and since the same-ish team planned to hold an online course that was directed towards "the academy", they recruited her (being a researcher and a teacher) to be part of the team of facilitators. This made sense not the least since she has experiences from using action research and from using participatory and co-creation methods both in and after she completed her ph.d. The bigger surprise was that in January I was also offered the chance to be part of the facilitation team. I very much felt like the most junior participant in a group of extremely talented and experienced persons who have used and taught co-creation methods for years or even for a decade or longer; Anna-Karin Berglund, Markus Schneider, Kajsa Balkfors and Emilia Rekestad (read some more about them here). I did however realize that this was an opportunity for me to learn a lot more from the masters (yes, the course we took in December was that good). 

To make a long story short, it has been a very enlightening, exciting and educational journal, but the planning and preparations have also involved a lot of hard work and early morning meetings (oftentimes the only time slot that worked for all of us was between 7-9 in the morning). Still, it has been a delight to work with the facilitation team and I have personally learned so much from this journey. It feels futile to try to capture it all in one blog post, so my plan is instead to show you in the months to come. Me and Elina and our research group will use different co-creation methods in events we plan during the spring term (including an even next week). It's even the case that I immediately managed to utilize some of what I learned in December in the course that I taught at KTH at that time!

The online course itself consisted of three full-day online sessions on Feb 10, Feb 11 and then, after a four-week break, on March 14. Besides the six facilitators, there were 52 participants. Most came from different Swedish Higher Education Institutions (Chalmers, Högskolan Dalarna, Högskolan i Halmstad, Högskolan i Skövde, Högskolan Väst, Karlstads Universitet, Karolinska Institutet, KTH, Linnéuniversitetet, Lunds Universitet, Södertörns Högskola, Stockholms Universitet), and some additional course participants worked in other organisations (including quite a few who worked for different Swedish municipalities). What surprised me was that while a majority of the participants came from different HEIs, only a minority of these participants were teachers and researchers, and many instead worked with different support functions like pedagogical development, systems owner or project/research coordination etc.

Despite the fact that it's tough to sit in front of a computer and attend a course for nine hours, I think the course was a success. Much had to do with the persons, the level of preparations and the tight coordination between the facilitators (much of it planned and decided in advance, but sometimes involving virtuoso improvisations and covering up for each other). The other half of why it was successful is the actual course contents (e.g. the wealth of tools, methods and models presented/explored in the course, see the list below).

So how do you learn to use co-creation methods? You of course learn to use them by actually using them. After the first day, many activities were led by the course participants themselves - after having received coaching from the facilitators. I coached three persons (Nina, Nicolette and Patrik) about how to use a particular method for reflection, "think-pair-square-share", and they later led all course participants in an exercise during the third and last day. 

I could write and write and write about this - which I'm not going to do today. But I will later come back to Art of Hosting and describe how we have put these methods to use! Also, there will be a new three-day off-line course near Stockholm at the end of November and I can whole-heartedly recommend it! The course will be be given in Swedish and it's open for everyone (e.g. not just for "the academy" but for anyone, including private persons). There is unfortunately no further information about the upcoming course at this point in time, but here's some info about the course that was given at the end of last year. I also think there will be a follow-up course for the academy, but I don't know when or where. We just finished the three-day course and while it certainly was a lot of fun, it was also a huge effort and we have to rest and recuperate before we have the energy to start up something new...

One specific artifact that held the whole course together was a visual emerging "Learnscape" that started with a bare-bones structure at the beginning of the course but that was progressively fleshed out during the course. Facilitator Emilia did most of the drawing and this is what the three-day course we just finished looks like graphically (using the online drawing tool Miro):

Day 1 activities, theme "listen"

Day 2 activities, theme "step in"

Day 3 activities, theme "take it further"


söndag 6 mars 2022

Digital Transformation for Sustainability


This is the first blog post after a two-year break - the last blog posts were published in May 2020 but I published regularly (at least once per week) during the first four months of that year. The hiatus thus correlates neatly with the Covid epidemic and all the various restrictions and shutdowns around the world. I myself had Covid for the first time less than a month ago, but I'm triple-vaccinated and it didn't feel substantially different from having an ordinary cold. 

While there is a correlation between Covid and me not blogging, I can't really say that there is a causal relationship between these two events. Covid did not per se make me quit blogging, nor did my blogging (or my lack of blogging) cause the Covid epidemic (as far as I know).

Much has of course happened during these two years, but I will not help readers catch up by spending weeks retroactively filling in various gaps. I will instead introduce new topics as they happen, but will also present a backstory that draws on 2020 and 2021 when needed - starting now. 

"Digital Transformation for Sustainability" is the working name of a proposed two-year masters programme that me and my colleague, Elina Erikssons, have been working on for some time. If successful, we could accept students and start the program 18 months from now, e.g. in September 2023. When I investigate, I can see that we started to write meeting notes and to-do lists back in April 2021, but not much happened before last summer. We did however write a 1-page pitch back in September, and where the audience was primarily people at our university, and in particular at our school, the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Here's the latest version of the 1-page pitch:

Digital transformations for sustainability (proposal)

"The scientific evidence suggests that the years ahead will test coming generations in extraordinary ways. Educators are obliged to tell the truth about such things but then to convert the anxiety that often accompanies increased awareness of danger to positive energy that can generate constructive changes. Environmental education must be an exercise in applied hope that equips young people with the skills, aptitudes, analytic wherewithal, creativity, and stamina to dream, act, and lead heroically. To be effective on a significant scale, however, the creative energies of the rising generation must be joined with strong and bold institutional leadership."

State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability. L. Starke, & L. Mastny (Eds.). WW Norton & Company, p.83.

Many experts agree that the major challenge facing humanity this century is to decrease our emissions of greenhouse gases and stop catastrophic heating of planet Earth. This master’s programme takes its starting point in the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree target and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and aims to attract students from all engineering programs at the KTH School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science to work towards these goals by harnessing the transformational power of ICT. The master’s program will recruit students from both EECS major subjects, electrical engineering and computer science. There are few examples of similar international programs, yet the interest in this kind of education is high and we also expect a large number of international students to apply as well. This master’s programme will span the whole EECS school, allowing students from all bachelor programmes to choose a master’s programme that leads to a deep understanding of the role of digitalisation and digital transformation for sustainable development. 

The program takes the Carbon Law (Rockström et al. 2017) and the Exponential Climate Action Roadmap (Falk et al. 2019) - that we need to decrease CO2 emissions by 50% every decade - as starting points for a transformation of society. The program furthermore takes inspiration from and incorporates systems thinking and will explore how digitalisation can be used to address current societal issues, for example as represented by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme will thus address issues pertaining to ecological, social and economic sustainability, making the students who graduate from the programme into change agents for a better tomorrow.

The Digital Transformations for Sustainability program will (tentatively) consist of four parts: 30 hp core (mandatory) courses, 30 hp in different tracks (connected to the different engineering programmes), 30 hp elective courses and 30 hp master’s thesis. The programme is a continuation of and a progression from the bachelor’s level, meaning that students, if they have not taken an introductory course to sustainability, will have to do so at the beginning of the programme (e.g. the course DM2573). The focus of the core courses will be to impart a broad understanding of sustainable societal transformation through digitalization, change processes and leadership. Core courses will for example include DM2720 Sustainable ICT in Practice, which has a focus on understanding how the IT and Media industries work with sustainability issues. The track courses will give the students deeper knowledge and skills in technology-related aspects of their track (corresponding to the different engineering programmes the students come from). The elective courses will give students the opportunity to either go deeper into a specific area or to gain a broader understanding. A programme integrating course will span the two years of the programme and will support better cohesion and networking opportunities between students and other relevant actors both within and outside of the academy.


Johan Falk et al. 2019. Exponential Roadmap 1.5. Future earth, SITRA (2019).

Johan Rockström et al. 2017. A roadmap for rapid decarbonization. Science 355, 6331 (2017), 1269–1271.

The reason I write this blog post at this particular moment in time is because we handed in a 15-page programme proposal this week, and we also separately handed in a 4-page application for money to develop a new course, "Leading complex change processes". Both of these documents were written in Swedish and while I will not translate them, I can say a few words about the work we do right now in relation to the proposed masters programme. 

The program we plan would be quite unique as there aren't many masters programmes in the intersection of sustainability and computing, and what there is is mostly geared towards Green IT and software engineering - while our proposal aims more broadly. If we are successful, we will get a go-ahead later this spring and we would be able to welcome students to our programme next year (September 2023). Much needs to happen before that though, including developing three new masters-level courses. Separate from the masters programme application, we also handed in an application for funds to develop one of these three courses, "Leading complex change processes". The course would, in one sentence, "aim to teach, but also show how to understand, relate to and lead change projects in a world that is characterized by increased complexity and uncertainty". 

I will surely come back to this topic (probably several times this spring). While we handed in the document this past week, we will, this coming week, present it to and answer questions from the KTH Vice President for Education and the Directors of First and Second Cycle Education at the five KTH Schools. It's an important meeting but it will be followed by an even more important meeting in April (where a binding decision could be taken). 

Wish us luck!