de / en


20.09.2023 - 22.09.2023

13:00 Uhr - 11:00 Uhr

Digitalization for sustainability transformations

Digitalization and sustainability transformation are two of the most significant challenges facing the world today. However, the links between these topics have rarely been addressed from an interdisciplinary perspective. This conference aims to bring together digitalization and sustainability scholars for a vibrant exchange across disciplinary boundaries.

About the Conference

This international, interdisciplinary academic conference is hosted by the University of Augsburg (Germany) in collaboration with the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), and the German Political Science Association (DVPW).

In the face of massive global environmental and sustainability challenges, the potential of digital technologies to foster sustainable development has received increasing attention in recent years. However, the extent to which digitalization (including big data and artificial intelligence) can contribute to solving the world’s most pressing sustainability problems, ranging from biodiversity loss to the climate crisis and persistent pollution, remains an open question. 

How digitalization can contribute to sustainable development is not just a technological question. It also depends on how the development and use of digital technologies is governed and socially embedded. Further, there is a risk of digital innovations perpetuating the status quo or inhibiting sustainability transformations instead of facilitating change towards sustainable development. These observations serve as starting points for exploring the changing knowledge base and real-world practices that impact sustainability politics and governance in times of digitalization.

The two overarching research questions of this conference are as follows:

  1. How does digitalization transform the knowledge and practices of environmental and sustainability policymaking?
  2. Which forms of digitalization governance are needed to harness its potential for sustainability transformations?

We invite scholars from a variety of disciplines, including political science, sociology, science and technology studies (STS), communication and media studies, human geography, law, philosophy, computer sciences, design research, and related disciplines to present their research at this conference.

We welcome disciplinary diversity and invite theoretical, empirical, and methodological contributions dealing with, but not limited to, the five main themes of the conference:

  1. Understandings of the digitalization-sustainability nexus
  2. Analysing the actors, discourses, and politics of the digitalization-sustainability nexus
  3. Designing digitalization policies and technology to foster sustainability
  4. Studying polity, power, institutions, and decision-making procedures
  5. Using digital methods to understand sustainability transformations


Keynote speakers

Planning a Just Transition from Coal in India: Digitisation of Data and the Possibility of Subversions in Mineral Resource Governance

Ph.D. Radhika Krishnan is an Assistant Professor with the Human Sciences Research Group, IIIT Hyderabad, India. She has been working in the broad domain of political ecology and technology studies for the past two decades. An electrical engineer by training, her interest in studying the interface between technological regimes, local communities and ecologies led her to shift her research focus to the social sciences. During her tenure at IIIT she has been working on the ways in which digital tools can be integrated into research on issues around mineral extractions, specifically coal. Currently she is collaborating with colleagues from Sweden, Australia and the UK on two projects on 'Just Transitions' in India.

Algorithmic Climate Governance: Reproducing hegemony or radical transformation?

Dr. Ruth Machen is a Lecturer in Urban Planning at Newcastle University (UK), researching the political implications of digital technologies in climate change governance. A human geographer by background, with former policy experience, her work draws from empirical research in the UK and USA on the use of digital models, platforms and interfaces in the making of climate policy. Focusing on unpacking the politics of knowledge at the climate science-policy interface, she draws from environmental governance scholarship, postfoundational political theory, and critical digital scholarship in human geography and STS. She has also contributed to debates on research impact and the role of critical scholarship in societal transformations.

Sustainability imaginaries by design

Dr. Roy Bendor explores the capacity of design to disclose  alternative social, political and environmental futures. With a background is in media studies, philosophy of technology, and environmental communication, he is currently Assistant Professor of Critical Design at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at Delft University of Technology (Netherlands). Roy is also Fellow of the Urban Futures Studio at Utrecht University, former editor of the sustainability forum in the ACM’s magazine Interactions, and author of Interactive Media for Sustainability (Palgrave, 2018).

Digital futures with civic tech initiatives and their relationship with narratives on environmental issues and civic participation

Ph.D. Teresa Cerratto Pargman is a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) professor at the Dept. of Computer and Systems Sciences at Stockholm University (SU). With a background in Psychology, Pedagogy, and Cognitive Science, she conducts conceptual and empirical studies on emerging technologies and practices in the public sector drawing from perspectives on the philosophy of technology and science and technology studies. She is interested in contributing methodologically to studying digital transformation for a sustainable planet. Teresa is a member of the Executive Committee and Associate Director of Societal Outreach at Digital Futures in Sweden.

Programme Committee

Working Group for Digitalization and Politics, German Association for Political  Science, DVPW

  • Prof. Dr. Angela Oels, University of Augsburg, Germany
  • Dr. Pascal König, German Corporation for International Collaboration (GIZ), Eschborn, Germany
  • Florian Steig, University of Vienna, Austria

Working Group for Environmental Politics/Global Change, German Association for Political Science, DVPW

  • Dr. Jens Marquardt, Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany
  • Prof. Dr. Sabine Weiland, Université Catholique de Lille, France

Working Group for Energy Transformation, German Association for Political  Science, DVPW

  • Dr. Jörg Radtke, Research Institute for Sustainability, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, Germany

Research Group “Digitalization, Sustainability and Participation”

  • Dr. Andrea Hamm, Weizenbaum Institut e.V., Berlin, Germany
  • Rainer Rehak, Weizenbaum Institut e.V., Berlin, Germany