Homeworks for Green IT and Sustainable Computing -Course

edX Course on Philosophy and Critical Thinking

Homework 1

Article 1: How the Cloud Supports Green IT Computing (http://www.itproportal.com/2014/04/10/how-the-cloud-supports-green-it-computing/) explains how cloud computing can help to improve sustainability.

Article 2: What is Green IT and Why Should You Care (http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/testdrive/article.php/3855806/What-Is-Green-IT-and-Why-Should-You-Care.htm) gives a good introduction to what green IT is.

Article 3: Green IT: How to Deliver Value to Your Business (http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Green-IT-How-to-deliver-value-to-your-business) describes how green IT can boost your business.

Homework 2

My “sustainability movement” would focus on home energy consumption. Home energy consumption is a big part of person's personal carbon footprint. It consists on heating and electricity usage in the apartment, which both consume around the same amount of energy on average. Problem with heating is that many people have higher temperature in their apartments than needed. Lowering the temperature even by 1-2 C significantly saves energy. Smart home technology could be used here to keep the temperature always at the chosen level. Also turning the electronic devices and lights off when they are not being used is a very easy way to save big amounts of energy in a yearly scale. These are simple ways to lower the energy consumption of your home and hopefully when one person in a community starts to save energy this way others will follow his/her example.

Missing lecture

Chapter 4: Chapter 4 discusses the value of different approaches to thinking about SIs and questions if SIs should be scientifically derived in all cases. The chapter focuses on systems approaches to problem solving and describes four different approaches. The soft system method is based on an insight that problems in the world are usually ”soft”, which means that objectives are unclear, purposes are muddled and solutions are often not initially available. The main features of the soft system approach are that the process of thinking systematically about problems is iterative, participatory and ongoing. The learning organization approach focuses heavily on dialogue and team learning and does not see problem-solving as being easy or objective. In this approach the system approach is a core discipline associated with others in order to provide learning and consensus. As with soft system method, processes are important and system analysis relates to cycles of understanding. The participatory rural appraisal approach is built on three pillars:

1. behavior and attitudes of the development professional

2. need for sharing between different actors

3. requirement for participatory methods

The logframe approach can be both descriptive and analytical. Descriptively, it allows a team or stakeholder group involved in a project to set out the formal aspects of the project, and also the informal or ”soft” elements of the project at each level.

Chapter 5: Chapter 5 focuses on four major aspects : 1. The project scenario: Project is a set of activities to achieve desired and defined outputs, constrained by time and resources. Projects can be divided into blueprint project cycle and the process project approach. Both have their strenghts and weaknesses. Process projects are seen as the best approach to achieve sustainability by the authors of the book.

2. The stakeholder scenario: Participation has become something of a holy grail in the development literature and it is often portrayed as the solution to all ills without any acknowledgement of the difficulties that it poses in practice. In reality it is not practical to include everyone and choosing the representative sample is very difficult.

3. Accommodating multiple views of sustainability within projects: The possible participating stakeholders consist of donors, project managers, implementers and beneficiaries. Participation and dialogue between different actors is seen vital for the project since it emerges new understanding.

4. Introducing the systemic sustainability analysis idea: A new idea to measure sustainability. The authors of the book express not being satisfied with the current SIs and present this Systematic Sustainability Approach which is based on a number of assumptions. The authors present five stages to develop this approach.

Chapter 6: Chapter 6 describes one example of Systematic Sustainability Approach in detail. The five steps of the Systematic Sustainability Approach (SSA), that is called the Imagine Approach, are:

1. Understand the context

2. Agree upon sustainability indicators and bands of equilibrium

3. Develop the AMOEBA approach and scenario-making

4. Conduct a review and engage in meta-scenario-making

5. Publicize and market the message

Imagine approach is modest and limited example of SSA. The authors came into conclusion that SIs work well in well defined projects with clear boundaries and agreed goals. They see that the Imagine approach is one way of putting SSA into practice and it is adaptable to circumstances.

Chapter 7: In chapter 7 the authors review several items of interest they have found most provocative in their personal journey of discovery. The items discussed in this chapter are:

1. Managing expectation in the projectified world order: It is argued that both lower and upper limits of expectations are problematic for various of reasons.

2. Organic and empowering approaches compared to inorganic and dehumanizing approaches: Sustainability is the mindset of those who are intimately entwined with its achievement, and not an entity that lies outside of our heads. In other words, it cannot be studied as we can study an ecosystem. Sustainability is what we want it to be and can change as we change. It is an organic and evolving construct of our minds and not an inorganic and static entity that can be physically probed.

3. Culture change: Part of the problem with SIs is that they are unable to recognize the differences between the individuals from different cultures.

4. The essential need for reflective practice: Essential element for all future SI work must be reflective practice. The authors found it surprising how little there was literature that reflected upon lessons relating SIs.

5. Future research priorities: The authors are participating in research that is developing SIs in a holistic point-of-view.

4 Exam Questions

1. Explain what MSY (Maximum Sustainable Yield) is. Why is it not an optimal method in measuring sustainability?

This question makes exam participants focus on one sustainability indicator and evaluate it.

2. Describe how IT can help in achieving sustainability. Give examples!

This very general question makes exam participants think about the big picture on how IT can have an effect on sustainability

3. Can you measure sustainability? why/why not?

This question makes the exam participant think what methods there are to measure sustainability and can it even be fully measured.

4. What is sustainability?

General question that every exam participant should know after attending this course.