Professor profile: Can IT solve the climate crisis?
In his inaugural lecture at ITU, Professor Steffen Dalsgaard will broaden the perspective on how technology and digital solutions are employed in the climate crisis. The lecture will take place in Auditorium 0 at the IT University on October 1 at 2 p.m.
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Written September 9, 2021 8:15 AM by Jari Kickbusch
The recently published UN climate report is an alarming read. It is abundantly clear that in order to deal with the global climate crisis, the world community must act now. Digital technology plays a significant role in Danish as well as international strategies for alleviating the effects of global warming, but can we really expect to secure a planet sustainable for human life by thinking in digital solutions? That is the central question Professor Steffen Dalsgaard will address in his inaugural lecture at the IT University.
- Many public and private actors are adamant that we can keep current lifestyles and finance welfare and development without impacting the climate negatively. It has even been suggested that growth can be separated from the issue of climate impact and that digital technologies can facilitate this separation and ensure a sustainable world. But it is probably not as simple as that, and it is important we remain critical of technology utopianism without completely rejecting technological solutions, says Steffen Dalsgaard, who as a professor wants to work for sustainability in the world:
- We hear a lot about sustainable technology, but it is important that we examine our choices when it comes to sustainability. For instance, buying an electric car in Denmark you do not know where the battery comes from or what happens to it when it is discarded. Where were the battery components produced, in what manner, and how does commodity transport impact the climate? In the grand scheme of things, making a green choice in Denmark when buying a car does not make much of a difference if producing the same car has affected the climate negatively in other parts of the world. We need more transparency, and a better understanding of what sustainability implies. There is a lot of research to be done in that regard.
Bridging the gap
The 45-year-old professor began his academic career at Anthropology and Ethnography at Aarhus University. Here he produced his dissertation entitled All the Government’s Men: State and Leadership in Papua New Guinea which was based on fieldwork he conducted in the Southwestern Pacific state.
In 2013, he was brought on at the IT University of Copenhagen and with his background in the humanities he has worked as a bridge-builder between various academic disciplines. As a full professor, he will continue to do so; if national as well as international efforts to create sustainability are to succeed there is a great need for inter-disciplinary approaches and critical thinking:
- Sustainable technology is not just about the technology itself. We have to factor in the people behind the technologies and the meaning we attribute them. Why do we consider certain technologies more sustainable than others? Many of us have a myopic perspective on technology, and we need to question our motives and choices. Is comfort or necessity driving technological innovation forward?
Staffen Dalsgaard was appointed professor at the IT University of Copenhagen in January 2021, but because of the covid-19 shut-down, his inaugural lecture was postponed. Steffen Dalsgaard is happy to be able to invite family, friends, and colleagues to the lecture which marks his ascension to the highest ranks of academia.
- It is a great honour and a recognition of myself and my work, and I hope I can live up to the expectations that come with this title, says Steffen Dalsgaard,
About the inaugural lecture
When: October 1, 2 p.m.
Location: Auditorium 0, IT University of Copenhagen, Rued Langgaards Vej 7, 2300 Copenhagen S
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