Environmental sustainability is an issue that is associated with multiple layers of complexity and vast scales of political, social and economic involvement. In his book Greening Through IT, Bill Tomlinson explores how the methods and tools available for the field of information technology (IT) can help to deal with the most pressing environmental problems of our time (2010).
It can be argued that the positive trend of interaction between IT and a set of environmental issues emerged a couple of decades ago (Tomlinson, 2010). Greening Through IT provides readers with a perspective of viewing IT as a potential facilitator for a process of finding a solution for the mitigation of climate change and other issues related to environmental sustainability. The responsibility of future educators is to provide students with a viable avenue for exploration of potential approaches for solving the existing environmental problems through IT. The book offers two potential scenarios of the near future events if the current ecological situation reaches its “tipping point” (Tomlinson, 2010). Tomlinson puts them forward for discussion in order to illustrate two probable outcomes of human intervention into a current ecological process. Namely, the writer discusses the worst-case scenario of overpopulation that results in overcultivation of the land and the best-case scenario in which a rapid technological development makes possible the invention of “low-cost, sustainable, pollution-free energy” (Tomlinson, 2010). After weighing in the two sequences of events, the writer offers a third “cautiously optimistic” middle ground (Tomlinson, 2010). It can be argued that the third scenario is more realistic because it rejects the binary notion of the future.
It is essential to teach students that people’s willingness to participate in the long process of adaptation to sustainable solutions and lifestyles is entirely dependent upon their knowledge about a current situation and some of the potential future developments. Tomlinson’s middle ground scenario is only possible if humanity is able to bring about pervasive change in its behavior. According to the writer, “the survival of our descendants and the continuation of living things in general” will happen if “issues are presented to the people of the world in a compelling way” (Tomlinson, 2010). Therefore, it can be argued that IT offers a unique possibility to make a case of saving humanity as appealing as possible. The future educator technology leaders have to understand that in order to prevent “tipping point” students have to be taught to think beyond the binary paradigm of the future prospects of ecological change (Tomlinson, 2010). When designing professional development or other activities for teacher participants, it is important to keep in mind the implications of IT’s role in the mitigation of environmental sustainability problem. It can be argued that popularization of the motives of extended human-centered approach (EHCA) and extended human-centered computing (EHCC) is not enough for raising awareness about environmental sustainability. However, future educators have to bring the theme of taking responsibility for the negative impact of human actions on the biosphere in their grant proposals. Moreover, they have to raise the issue of sustainability consciousness thereby improving prospects of finding possible solutions to the current environmental problems. It stands to reason to suppose that if the educators take a proper approach to environmental education, students will come up with the new avenues for addressing semantics issues such as the use of HCC and UCD terms that surround some of IT disciplines. It can be argued that finding a solution for the sustainability problems is a partial responsibility of education technology leaders.
Tomlinson, B. (2010). Greening through IT. Cambridge, MS: MIT Press.