CfS workshop at national computing educators conference.

Posted on May 18, 2007


2005-2014 has been declared the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Sustainable development was defined by the Bruntland Commission in 1987 as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”The call to address these issues is supported from the highest levels – including international and national government and regulatory organisations. Some professional groups (for example, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and MBA programmes through “Beyond Grey Pinstripes”) have already addressed these concerns through their professional codes or guidelines.

The computing industry has a poor record regarding sustainability. Disposal of hazardous e-waste is a problem which can no longer be exported to the developing world. It has been estimated that 95% of all computers ever produced are now stockpiled for recycling. Software development can also impact on the environment – how many hardware upgrades were driven by the release of Windows Vista? Some manufacturers (Dell, HP) are exploring alternative business models which will allow the information technology industry to operate in a sustainable manner. Information technology can also be a driver for sustainable development – as demonstrated in Logan Muller and Alison Young’s project in the high Andes .

As educators in the computing discipline, we have a responsibility to address these issues now. Institution-wide core competencies or policies relating to sustainability are being formulated – what is the computing response? How can we take the lead in this process?

Workshop Outcomes

Research indicates that the ideal approach is to embed sustainability education into all curriculum areas. The goal is to educate for sustainability (in addition to educating about sustainability).

Some possible goals for the workshop:

  • Survey existing sustainability options in the computing curriculum.
  • Develop example learning outcomes for all computing curriculum areas.
  • Develop example learning opportunities.
  • Draft a mandate for adoption by NACCQ.

Facilitators: Samuel Mann, Lesley Smith and Logan Muller.

Register for the workshop through