Digitalization for sustainability transformations


How can digitalisation serve the sustainability transformation? Which governmental interventions are needed? Prof. Dr. Angela Oels was local host of a 3-day international and interdisciplinary conference that addressed these questions.

From 20-22 September 2023, more than 40 colleagues from political science, science & technology studies, geography, media studies, economics, human-computer interaction and computer sciences came to the Zentrum für Klimaresilienz // Centre for Climate Resilience at the University of Augsburg in Germany to present papers.

Some highlights for you:

  • We need to rethink sustainability at an ontological level as deep interconnectedness as Roy Bendor (Delft University of Technology, Netherlands) suggested.
  • As digitalisation conquers scientific ways of knowing, we need to be wary of its inherent claim to ‘objectivity’ and ‘universalism’ which makes it hard to question and has potentially depoliticizing effects as Ruth Machen (Newcastle University, UK) powerfully demonstrated.
  • Many government-funded citizen science projects fail to be empowering and lasting as Teresa Pargman (Stockholm University, Sweden) explained. Bottom-up initiatives which generate ‘alternative’ data are the ones with transformative power.
  • Digitalisation offers new tools for generating ‘alternative’ data which brings ‘inconvenient truths’ to governments as Radhika Krishnan (International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad (IIITH), India) highlighted. In fact, it can be risky to generate such data.

The conference was a milestone in community building as too many people work in isolation and don’t talk to each other across disciplines. We will follow up with a special issue. Hosts and sponsors of this conference were the Zentrum für Klimaresilienz // Centre for Climate Resilience at the University of Augsburg, the German Political Science Association (DVPW), the Weizenbaum-Institut for the Networked Society and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH.