Time is running out on limiting the extent of human-made destruction on our planetary foundations. We are already overshooting five out of the nine planetary limits: climate change, bio-geochemical cycles disruption, biodiversity loss, novel entities production, and land use. Our way of life in the Global North is one of the primary drivers for this worsening situation and requires fundamental change for a transition to sustainable societies. Despite having powerful and efficient technologies at our disposal, we have thus far failed to bring the anthropogenic pressure on our planet into balance with its boundaries. Among all technologies, information and communication technologies (ICT) have grown enormously in production, deployment, and reach over the past decades, spreading to almost all aspects of our daily lives at the individual and industrial level. They have undoubtedly brought benefits to society (e.g., near-instant communication, access to knowledge, automation), but have already caused and will continue to cause severe socio-environmental damages. Given the expected continued growth and ensuing increased pressure of ICT on our planet, we question the roles that ICT play in the necessary sustainable transition during the Doctoral Summer School on Sustainable ICT (SICT) 2022.
SICT 2022 builds on top of previous editions of this doctoral summer school, in which we saw the difficulty to determine whether the impacts of ICT are net-positive or net-negative. We highlighted the complex interactions between our growth-based socio-economic systems and (new) digital technologies: ICT are often leveraged for continued economic growth instead of a reduction of our absolute impacts on the planet. Finally, we see a lack of multi- and interdisciplinarity in the current research and innovation processes which biases the digital technologies that are their outcomes. Indeed, as ICT are socio-technical elements, we need to study them under a variety of perspectives to get a representative global picture. In this context, the third edition of SICT aims at gathering researchers with different backgrounds to collaborate and rethink the road ahead for ICT and the way we research and develop digital technologies for a sustainable tomorrow. In this mindset, we will question which steps to take towards a post-growth world, tackling both short- and long-term challenges.
Over the course of the week, we will receive inputs in a post-growth context from leading experts in sustainability, ICT, and social and human sciences. We want to connect researchers, practitioners, industry experts, and activists to analyze, understand, and rethink the roles of ICT in the sustainable transition. Involving as many different groups as possible is important to quickly and effectively transfer scientific knowledge to the civil society and implement it in the little time we have left. We will also discuss the limits of our current socio-economic systems and the mechanisms that hinder a profound transition of our systems with key actors from institutions and industries. This will feed the reflexion on the transformations of our business-as-usual practices and the pathways to transition towards sustainable alternatives in post-growth economies. We will hear from impacted communities on the harmful fall-outs of consumerism. In workshops and group work settings, we will debate and challenge the way we, as researchers, approach the roles of ICT for humanity’s future. We will bring our different backgrounds together to describe, question, envision and outline new approaches to research and develop ICT that ensure our future within planetary boundaries.
We invite PhD students from diverse academic fields to come together for a five-day workshop from Aug 29 to Sep 02, 2022, in the area of Grenoble, France. A few places are also available to master students. The event will be held in English.