Challenge: a vision of sustainable computing professionals

Posted on May 21, 2007


A driver for the sustainability of a discipline is a sustainability statement for that discipline. A useful step is for stakeholders to work together to produce a vision of their discipline. Cortese (1998) challenged engineers to envision a sustainable future and then challenged them to articulate their role, in designing the new future, in achieving it, and in maintaining it. He argued “engineers must lead this new industrial revolution”. His statement, adapted for computing by simple cut and paste reads:

“I believe that there is a special role for computing professionals in the future. Rather than being the professionals that primarily design technologies to control or remediate pollution, I believe the computing professionals will be the interdisciplinary, systems specialists who will bring together, coordinate and manage all the specialists to solve complex environmental problems and promote sustainable development…Moreover, all computing professionals must play a much stronger role in the public policy process to provide the right incentives for industry and others to move on a sustainable path so that computing professionals can be encouraged and supported to design sustainable technology…
Such a shift in the thinking, values, and actions of all individuals and institutions worldwide calls for a long term societal effort to make environmental and sustainability concerns a central theme in all education, particularly for computing professionals. If we are to achieve a sustainable future, institutions of higher education must provide the awareness, knowledge, skills, and values that equip individuals to pursue life goals in a manner that sustains human and non-human well-being. This is critical since higher education prepares most of the professionals who develop, manage, teach in and influence society’s institutions” (adapted from Cortese 1998).

So here’s the challenge… we need a real statement for computing sustainability (better than a cut and paste). Ideas anyone?

Posted in: CfS - TheGood