Seminar Series on Sustainable Digital Transformations

empty seminar room

Welcome to the web pages for our seminar series on Sustainable Digital Transformations. These seminars are organized as a collaboration between the SustainDiT project (Sustainable Digital Transformations, part of NTNU Sustainability), NTNU+NAV+HMN collaboration program, NTNU Digital’s Center for Sustainable ICT, CESICT, and our research group Digital Publics. Please let Tangni or Babak know if you are interested in these seminars and want to get involved.

Links to yearly seminar pages

Aim

The goal of our seminars is to bring together researchers and practitioners who are interested in the sustainability aspects of our digital technologies. If you are doing research on specific classes of digital technologies (for instance algorithms, sensors, platforms, automation) with a sustainability focus, your are welcome to submit an abstract to our seminar. This seminar is intended for early career researchers such as postdocs, Phd candidate and master students. With this seminar we aim to:

  • Provide a forum for you to meet with practitioners and academics, have the opportunity to present your work, and get in touch with interested parties for further collaboration.
  • Provide feedback on your research in form of written peer reviews but also face-to-face meetings with experts in the subject area.
  • We also plan to implement a shepherding process for the most promising contributions, and help you in bringing your contribution closer to publication.

Research shows that although digital technologies can help us preserve environmental resources, they can also lead to the reduced sustainability of other resources such as social capital and public values. Digital transformation as a core phenomenon with its own agency, and its impact on the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of our societies, is seldom studied in the context of sustainability. This is the goal of our seminar, i.e. to investigate the affordances of digital technologies within a sustainable transformation framework. Please read the background section below before submitting.

Types of submission

The seminar accepts submissions from all application domains, however for 2023 we will prioritize submissions from areas related to the digitalization of healthcare, social and welfare services. Types of submissions we are asking include the following:

  • Studies of specific types of digital technologies such as algorithms, sensors, platforms, robots, automation, internet of things, web services etc. within a sustainable transformation context.
  • Case studies of the applications of digital technologies, with reflections on their sustainability aspects.
  • Empirically grounded conceptual models and theoretical contributions within sustainable digital transformations.
  • Empirically grounded tools, frameworks and methods to support sustainable digital transformation.
  • Literature surveys or other meta-analysis of various aspects of sustainable digital transformations.
  • Methodological contributions targeting the way we conduct empirical research on sustainable digital transformations.

The submissions should be authored by the early career researcher alone, and be in form of an extended abstract of maximum 300 words, excluding the reference list.

Authors of all accepted submissions are expected to presented their work at the seminar to be held by NTNU, November 24, 2023.

How to submit (2023)

For 2023 we have invited talks only. All presenters are already contacted by Babak.

Background

Digital transformation is often regarded as an enabler of sustainable transformations. Different types of information technology can be developed to support each of the SDGs: mobile devices can provide global access to welfare services; smart home and city technologies can enable green zero emission buildings; and biomedical sensors can enable personalized health. It is even believed that sustainable development goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved without digital transformation (Kshetri, 2014; Wu et al., 2018). There is at least no doubt that sustainable transformations will be much more challenging –if not impossible –without digital technologies.

However, although digital transformation has become a core force shaping sustainable transformation, digital transformation itself as an independent and core phenomenon with its own agency is not investigated thoroughly and critically within sustainability research (WBGU –German Advisory Council on Global Change, 2019). While digital technologies have great potential, they are not neutral. In fact, the digital transformation of our societies might in many cases act as a roadblock for sustainable transformations. Examples of such roadblocks are abundant, and are given diverse names such as digital divide, digital inequality, algorithmic injustice, algorithmic bias, surveillance capitalism, digital Taylorism, and platform capitalism. While digital transformations can enable sustainable transformations, emerging research also tells us that digital technologies often ignore long-term goals at the cost of short-term gains (Fernández-Aller et al., 2021; Pūraitė et al., 2020; WBGU –German Advisory Council on Global Change, 2019). Such long-term goals are often related to socioeconomic aspects such as social capital and public values. Examples of short-sightedness in digitalization are abundant: Online global mega-stores bring one-click shopping to everyone’s mobile device; so-called sharing economies alter our travel and transportation habits; excessive data collection by private companies and governments worldwide creates surveillance systems with little known consequences; social media platforms increasingly influence political processes; automation might lead to “increasing inequalities and ever greater concentration of wealth and power” (United Nations, 2019).

While most existing ST projects and research deal with some form of information technology, cross-cutting long-term impact of DT related to ST, what we call sustainability in digital transformations, is mostly under-researched. In our seminar we want to focus on the digital phenomenon from a multidisciplinary perspective, investigating commonalities if they exist, and collecting empirical evidence of what works and does not work.

References

Fernández-Aller, C., de Velasco, A. F., Manjarrés, Á., Pastor-Escuredo, D., Pickin, S., Criado, J. S., & Ausín, T. (2021). An Inclusive and Sustainable Artificial Intelligence Strategy for Europe Based on Human Rights. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 40(1), 46–54. https://doi.org/10.1109/MTS.2021.3056283

Kshetri, N. (2014). The emerging role of Big Data in key development issues: Opportunities, challenges, and concerns. Big Data & Society, 1(2), 2053951714564227. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053951714564227

Pūraitė, A., Adamonienė, R., & Žemeckė, A. (2020). Sustainable Digitalization in Public Institutions: Challenges for Human Rights. European Journal of Sustainable Development, 9(3), 91–91. https://doi.org/10.14207/ejsd.2020.v9n3p91

United Nations. (2019). The future is now- Science for achieving sustainable development (Global Sustainable Development Report). United Nations. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/globalsdreport

WBGU –German Advisory Council on Global Change. (2019). Towards our Common Digital Future. Summary. WBGU.

Wu, J., Guo, S., Huang, H., Liu, W., & Xiang, Y. (2018). Information and Communications Technologies for Sustainable Development Goals: State-of-the-Art, Needs and Perspectives. IEEE Communications Surveys Tutorials, 20(3), 2389–2406. https://doi.org/10.1109/COMST.2018.2812301