ITU professor takes critical approach to green tech, secures prestigious grant
Professor at the IT University of Copenhagen’s Business IT department Steffen Dalsgaard has won the prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant. The almost two million Euro grant will enable him and his colleagues to critically examine IT and sustainability across the globe.
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Written March 17, 2022 8:25 AM by Theis Duelund Jensen
Climate change is the biggest threat facing mankind, but there is little global agreement on how to deal with it. Governments and private sector industries argue that a so-called decoupling of economic growth from practices that emit carbon is the best way to reduce climate impact while maintaining a healthy economy. Most proponents of the decoupling approach to solving the climate crisis view IT as a key component to success. However, according to Business IT Professor at the IT University of Copenhagen, Steffen Dalsgaard, IT solutions often create new problems for the climate and for people as well.
“Technological innovation is often spoken about in messianic terms when it comes to solving climate problems,” says Steffen Dalsgaard, who spearheads the Decoupling IT? A Global Comparative Ethnography of the Role of IT in the Mitigation of the Climate Crisis research project which takes a critical approach to climate IT initiatives. Steffen Dalsgaard has just received the prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant and secured close to two million Euros which will fund the project for five years.
“How do we assess the impact IT technologies have on the climate and ensure that they actually work? The ERC Consolidator Grant allows us to focus our research on five different countries where the interplay between climate and IT is particularly relevant: Kenya, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, and Iceland,” says Steffen Dalsgaard.
The professor hopes that the project will yield insight into the nature of technological development in areas where such diverse climatic problems as drought, deforestation, flooding, air pollution, and melting glaciers drive innovation. “In Kenya, they have been working on mechanical wells for years to combat the devastating effects of drought. In recent years, the wells have been digitalized, but do they actually work according as intended, and are they a mitigating factor in terms of climate change or do they merely treat the symptoms?” says Steffen Dalsgaard.
The project approaches decoupling from a sociocultural viewpoint examining how change is generated in the spaces between IT, climate change, and capitalism. Steffen Dalsgaard and his team are particularly interested in looking at this through ethnographic explorations of how IT professionals and enterprises articulate climate change as a problem in demand of IT generated change, and in how they deploy IT solutions with the climate in mind.
In addition to Steffen Dalsgaard the project has been designed with contributions from co-investigators and Associate Professors Cancan Wang and James Maguire as well as Assistant Professor Priscila Santos da Costa and PhD student Hasib Ahsan.
“It is an honour to receive an ERC Consolidator Grant, and I don’t think it has entirely dawned on me yet,” says Steffen Dalsgaard. “It is a recognition of the work that we are doing, and we all look forward to continuing our research.”
The European Research Council (ERC) is the first pan-European funding body for frontier research. It aims to enhance the dynamic character, creativity, and excellence of European research at the frontiers of knowledge. ERC grants are awarded through open competition to projects headed by starting and established researchers. Find more information here. Theis Duelund Jensen, Press Officer, Tel: +45 2555 0447, email: email@example.com