The term "sustainability" has been applied to a wide range of issues since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit). These issues fall roughly into three categories: environment and ecology; economic development; and human rights equity. There are massive changes needed in all of these areas. The point of this seminar is to research and discuss how these issues relate to our work in interaction design and digital media production, and to determine how the ITP community can have the most positive impact.
In order to limit the scope of our research to something manageable within the semester, we will focus mainly on environmental issues, starting with these central questions: What impact do our practices at work, at home, and in our social lives have on the environment? What changes can we make to lessen the damage we do and increase any positive effects our work has? What skills or ideas do we bring to the table that can have the best effect? How can we use interaction design principles to come up with new practices, ones that are both engaging and healthy for us and our surroundings? What can we change here and now?
In the past year, we've seen plenty of press around individual efforts towards a more sustainable world. Important as this is, it can't hold a candle to the impact that larger organizations can have. Changing organizations is a much more difficult process however, and many individuals can't see how their role as part of an organization can contribute to a change in the whole organization's behavior. So how do we change the groups, schools, companies that we're a part of? What power do we have, and how do we exercise it?
In looking for answers these questions, we will attempt to address both our practice here at ITP, and the assumptions we take with us into work and life after ITP. We will continue to build an online resource for ourselves and others based on what we learn in the process. This could include reading lists, suggested actions to be taken, links to sources of useful materials and tools for designers and artists, and to organizations whose work overlaps ours. we'll implement what changes we can, and make suggestions on those that will take longer. We'll also come up with a long-term plans for passing on the torch for those longer-term solutions to future classes, and to the administration of ITP, who can see to the continuity of our work, where appropriate.
Students will be encouraged to read and research widely on the issues addressed in the class, report on their findings, participate actively in discussions in-class and online, and to begin to take action in their own practices.