Proposed sustainability policy for ACM SIGCSE

Posted on February 9, 2009


In the current issue of the ACM SIGCSE Bulletin (Digital Library) we make the case for a SIGCSE policy on Computing Education for Sustainability:

Computing and IT underpins every sector of society as a  pervasive and influential discipline with global impact. As a result, computing influences the environment and society either positively or negatively. While we have seen positive benefit from incremental changes such as reductions in energy usage and recycling components, more comprehensive and transformative changes are needed to meet contemporary challenges. Therefore, our vision is that our graduates, practitioners and academics understand the concepts of social, environmental and economic sustainability in order for them to evaluate, question and discuss their role in the world and to enable them to make changes where and when appropriate. Our goal is that every graduate think and act as a “sustainable practitioner”.  This way computing will be a driving influence in the creation of a sustainable future in every sector it touches. 

Moreover, computing educators must take a lead in sustainability so that computing practitioners can be encouraged and supported to promote sustainable practice in every sector where computing plays a role. This can primarily be achieved by the fostering of sustainability as a core value of computing education.

Creating a philosophy of Computer Education for Sustainability will be enhanced if undertaken within a context of institutional operational practice. We will then be seen to be modeling good practice.

This draft policy is the outcome of a working group at ITiCSE in Madrid where the text was drafted.  An earlier version of the text was circulated with a prompt for feedback and editing.  The 71 responses were overwhelmingly positive. Several suggestions were made and the policy has been adapted to lessen some of the impact statements.