Monday, January 07, 2013

Sustainability in New US Computer Science Degrees

The Computer Science Curricula 2013 produced jointly by ACM and IEEE Computer Society includes "Sustainability" as an elective. This was introduced in 2008 and is proposed to be kept for the 2013 version. It should be noted that this is only a small part of on "Social and Professional Practice" (SP) topic.

Sustainability is allocated only two hours of lectures in a 305 hour, three year degree program (about 19 hours work for the student). This would equate approximately to week 2 "The Global ICT Footprint" and week 4 "Materials Use" of my course "ICT Sustainability: Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future". It would give the practitioner an overview of sustainability issues, but not equip them to work as a specialist.

If there is interest in material for the ACM/IEEE-CS "Sustainability" topic I could prep-are a version of my course materials for this, along the lines of "How Green is My Computer?", which was prepared as a 3 hour on-line exercise (and has been run at ANU in a classroom).



  • Being a sustainable practitioner, e.g., consideration of impacts of issues, such as power consumption and resource consumption
  • Explore global social and environmental impacts of computer use and disposal (e-waste)
  • Environmental impacts of design choices in specific areas such as algorithms, operating systems, networks, databases, programming languages, or human-computer interaction (cross-reference: HCI/Embedded and Intelligent Systems/Energy-aware interfaces)
  • Guidelines for sustainable design standards
  • Systemic effects of complex computer-mediated phenomena (e.g. telecommuting or web shopping)
  • Pervasive computing. Information processing that has been integrated into everyday objects and activities, such as smart energy systems, social networking and feedback systems to promote sustainable behavior, transportation, environmental monitoring, citizen science and activism.
  • Conduct research on applications of computing to environmental issues, such as energy, pollution, resource usage, recycling and reuse, food management, farming and others.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Identify ways to be a sustainable practitioner [Knowledge]
  2. Illustrate global social and environmental impacts of computer use and disposal (e-waste) [Application]
  1. Describe the environmental impacts of design choices within the field of computing that relate to algorithm design, operating system design, networking design, database design, etc. [Knowledge]
  2. Investigate the social and environmental impacts of new system designs through projects. [Application]
  1. Identify guidelines for sustainable IT design or deployment [Knowledge]
  2. List the sustainable effects of telecommuting or web shopping [Knowledge]
  3. Investigate pervasive computing in areas such as smart energy systems, social networking, transportation, agriculture, supply-chain systems, environmental monitoring and citizen activism. [Application]
  4. Develop applications of computing and assess through research areas pertaining to environmental issues (e.g. energy, pollution, resource usage, recycling and reuse, food management, farming) [Evaluation]
From: Computer Science Curricula 2013, by ACM and IEEE Computer Society, Strawman Draft, 2012