We live in a social and technical world that is both effecting, and being effected by, climate change, international low carbon legislation, and diverse environmental sustainability demands and dreams. The environment, and the social and technical relationship we have with it, is a major part of global and Danish policy-making, and affects everyday life in a company, from issues of corporate environmental and social responsibility to paper recycling. Together, researchers, companies, NGOs and governments are working towards a green society, but in very different ways that are sometimes in tension.
IT has a crucial role in the management of energy systems, supporting end user low energy everyday practice, and design for a ‘green’ product lifecycle, from local sourcing of materials to recycling of harmful semiconductor elements. Design must now also include an understanding of low energy production, consumption, and disposal.
At the IT University of Copenhagen, we focus on the complex relationship between environment, green society and technology. Our curriculum provides students with an understanding of how energy systems include the environment, organisations, and technologies. Hardware and software, from intelligent smart grids to green apps, are all parts of both technical systems and green society.Our curriculum takes as its starting point that information technologies are part of networks of relations that include the environment and society. For example, technological objects have a biography, from their design, through to their manufacture, use and then disposal. Embedded in this biography are issues of a green society, from e-Waste legislation (WEEE) to low-carbon resources. Understanding this inseparability between technology, society and the environment is therefore crucial for designing for a green society.