Digitalisation for Sustainability (MEE128)

As technological developments continue to show little sign of slowing down, we find ourselves amidst a near-unstoppable transition towards digitalisation. However, this transition towards "more technology as the answer to everything" requires us to ask difficult questions, such as: why, for what purpose, at whose benefit, and at what consequence? Whilst digitalisation certainly has a role to play in supporting sustainability, the assumption that it always does must be examined carefully.

This course looks to engage key theories and concepts of digitalisation and sustainability to explore an array of unique and diverse cases that confront this dichotomy. Through this, the course aims to empower students to consider both the positives and negatives of digitalisation for sustainability.

Course description for study year 2024-2025. Please note that changes may occur.


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The "Digital Revolution" has been heralded as the "Third Industrial Revolution", shifting the world from mechanical and analogue electronic technologies towards digital electronics. With this shift, however, we find that not only are societal and economic practices unsustainable, but that the technology that had once shown great promise for creating a more just, equal, and efficient world has struggled to do so. Whether digitalisation leads us towards more sustainable practices and modes of production is deeply contextual, and dependent on how it is regulated and governed.

Utilising two guiding questions, the course looks to address the following themes: 1) To what extent and under what conditions can digitalisation support a more sustainable society? And directly related, 2) What are the implications for different sectors of society of this move towards greater digitalisation?

Core inputs for the course

This course combines established core concepts and theories with a blend of case study contributions. Technological determinism and social constructivism will be two of several theories that will be examined, and core concepts involved include sensor society, surveillance culture, surveillance capitalism, smart technology, smart cities, blockchain, and big data. Regulatory frameworks such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are also discussed regarding the regulation and implementation of various digital technologies. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals will act as an "anchor" to sustainability, addressing how digitalisation could help realise several or more of the objectives.

Learning outcome

It is expected that upon completion of this course that the students will have the following knowledge, skills, and general competencies:

Knowledge - A student should be able to:

  • Describe digitalisation processes and key characteristics in different sectors of society.
  • Critically assess the different impacts digitalisation has on society, sustainability, and the environment.
  • Discuss the role of regulation in facilitating and governing sustainable digitalisation processes.
  • Distinguish between different theories regarding how digitalisation may be understood and analysed.
  • Understand the various challenges that digitalisation presents for sustainability.
  • Utilise knowledge obtained from the course to critically analyse a digitalisation case.

Skills - A student should be able to:

  • Effectively communicate the linkages between digitalisation and sustainability, regarding environmental systems and societal impacts.
  • Critically assess and compare the various and varying challenges encountered by digitalisation for sustainability.
  • Organise knowledge obtained from the course, lectures, readings, and seminars in a manner that supports coherent comparative analyses that can lead to the formation of substantiated, informed, and well-articulated conclusions.
  • Work independently and provide constructive feedback to peers, also being able to receive constructive criticism with the purpose of improving knowledge and learning.
  • Formulate a research question on a chosen case that can support the delivery of the individual semester essay.

General competencies - A student should be able to:

  • Apply theories and concepts from the course to real-world systems and examples of digitalisation and its impact on sustainability.
  • Communicate and create effective presentations in both the spoken oral and written form.
  • Have an increased capacity for independent learning, with an array of different critical thinking tools and methods that aid the ability to analyse complex digitalisation and sustainability cases.

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended prerequisites

MEE100 Societal Transition and Transformation - Energy and Climate Change
Students should be familiar with reading academic literature from the social sciences and / or willing to get acquainted with literature from the social sciences and related concepts and theories.


Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Individual semester essay 1/1 Letter grades

Coursework requirements

Individual assignment

To qualify for the submission of the individual semester essay (100% of grade) students will need to participate in and submit three compulsory assignments throughout the semester.

The first will be a presentation and summary of an academic research article. Each week, selected students will upload and present a report on one of the readings for the module with the purpose of supporting other student’s and their own understanding of a topic in the course.

The second will be an individual presentation at a workshop outlining the individual semester essay. Students will need to select a case study for their essay, and in the presentation they are expected to present their plan for writing the essay. A fellow student will act as a discussant along with the coordinator.

The third and final mandatory assignment will be for each student to submit a maximum 500-word extended plan or draft of their individual semester essay, which will be reviewed by two other students and the course coordinator who will all provide feedback.

All the mandatory assignments are designed to support learning and directly contribute to the writing of the individual semester essay.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Peter Mathias Lindkvist

Course teacher:

Siddharth Sareen

Study Program Director:

Liv Sunnercrantz

Head of Department:

Oluf Langhelle

Method of work

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Discussion groups
  • Compulsory student assignments (group work, oral presentations, written draft texts) throughout the semester will contribute to the writing of the individual paper.
  • There will be special guest speakers invited to share their expert knowledge on relevant topics.

Open for

Digital Society and Societal Transformations - Master's Degree Programme Energy, Environment and Society - Master's Degree Programme
Exchange programmes at UIS Business School
Exchange programme at Faculty of Science and Technology

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course supervisor, the student union representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital subject evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


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