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Four master theses on sustainability successfully defended

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During the spring I have supervised a group of six master students of which four have sustainability related thesis topics. This week the students presented and successfully defended their results, and below are my very brief summaries of their work. Despite working hard all spring, the students have found that there is always more that could be done. So, their theses could possibly also serve as inspiration for future master thesis students.

Sofie Nyström: Providing meaningful waste feedback to larger grocery stores to promote sustainable development

The thesis work was carried out as part of a CESC project in collaboration with the grocery store Coop. Sofie investigated recycling practices in large Coop stores and explored different ways of providing feedback on waste recycling to staff and managers, for example by relating a store’s amount of recycling to central Coop goals. The concepts, and particularly statistics related to economic benefits of recycling, were appreciated by the managers and ideas for future feedback solutions are to include more tips on how to improve recycling and tools to spark motivation. There might also be future opportunities in engaging more with other staff in the stores than the managers.

Gabriella Sanchez Karlsson: Designing a Game for Learning About Recycling

This thesis work is related to a MID project on design and energy use, funded by the Swedish Energy Agency. Gabriella investigated recycling habits of young adults, who may recently have moved out of their parents’ place and being in the process of establishing new habits. The focus of the study was on knowledge and motivation related to recycling, but Gabriella also found other aspects, such as lack of space at home, that mattered for if people were recycling. Gabriella designed a game with questions aiming to increase knowledge of recycling and motivation to recycle. The results showed a significant increase in knowledge of recycling among the players, and future work could explore how recycling habits are affected by such increase in knowledge.

Emil Westin: Visualization of Quantified Self with movement and transport data

Related to the same MID project as Gabriella’s thesis, Emil recruited participants who for two weeks tracked their trips with the app Moves. He designed an interface where the participants could follow their daily carbon emissions from different transportation modes, compared to for example other partipants and Swedish transport emission goals for 2030. The interface served as a tool for reflecting on transportation practices and the participants expressed an increased understanding of their own transport related carbon emissions, from extremely low before the study to somewhat higher after. The work focussed on capabilities (in terms of knowledge) and motivation related to sustainable transportation and future opportunities include to further explore how these factors are linked to each other and to opportunities to choose sustainable transportation modes.

Samuel Lindberg: Encouragement for sustainable pension – A better understanding for sustainability in regards to pension savings

This thesis project was proposed by the Swedish pension company SPP. They wanted to explore ways of communicating sustainable pensions to companies that place their occupational pensions (tjänstepension) with SPP. Samuel found that the interviewed companies did not make links between sustainability and pensions. They also thought it would be more expensive and less beneficial with sustainable pension funds, which according to SPP are misconceptions. Samuel explored ways of concretising sustainability on the SPP web portal for business customers, and while the sustainability-oriented design was appreciated by the study participants Samuel also identified risks of rebound effects: people might use the carbon emission “savings” from sustainable pensions to justify activities with a negative impact on the environment (such a driving cars). A challenge for the future is to highlight sustainability benefits of certain pension funds without triggering such rebound effects.

The theses will be available in Diva eventually.

/Hanna

Publications updated – FINALLY

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Yes, this was long overdue. But. I have finally updated the publications page on this blog. Just so that you know. And happily, we have been productive since 2014 when we created the page. 🙂

//Elina

Ps. If anyone from the team notices a publication that is missing, please e-mail me the reference and I’ll insert it. Preferably in APA style.

Major Mistra Application

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Researchers from the MID4S group has been involved in a larger Mistra application on Sustainable Consumption. The application is built a consortium with 11 (!) researching partners and many municipalities and other organizations. Let’s all cross our fingers, decision is made in June, and if we get the grant the research will start in the autumn. Cecilia Katzeff (honorary member in hour team) and Ulrika Gunnarsson Östling are the main applicants, but Elina Eriksson has also been involved as a member of the management team of the application. Below is the longish abstract of the application.

MISTRA-sustlife
Our research programme proposal is called Mistra Sustainable Lifestyles. Lots of people involved. 

Summary
The planned research programme Mistra Sustainable Lifestyles will be grounded in everyday practices and lifestyles, around which people organize their lives. Focus will be on change of current unsustainable consumption practices in Sweden. The overall objective of the programme is to create conditions for a society, where sustainable lifestyles is the norm; where unsustainable consumption practices are fading; and, the negative impact from consumption on the environment is decreasing; and where quality of life is increased or maintained. In order to achieve this, one objective is to consolidate knowledge on how sustainable lifestyles are formed; how they relate to quality of life; and how the transition to a society where sustainable lifestyles is the norm can be initiated and sustained by different actors in society. The programme applies a design oriented approach for change, working with living labs and municipalities at sites in different parts of Sweden. This approach in combination with the framework of social practice theory seek to understand the mechanisms for change in lifestyles. Another objective is to understand how instruments and methods can be formed to stimulate the emergence of sustainable consumption practices. The objectives will be reached in collaboration with academic partners, local governments, governmental agencies, civil society actors, businesses, and citizens.

The core of the programme during its four years is an organisation of activities we call “interventions and provocations”. The provocations are based on results from the interventions. Provocations may, for instance, consist of exhibitions, campaigns, workshops, debates with politicians, new policy proposals, etc. Concepts developed from interventions may also result in new services, start- up companies, new types of business models, etc. Interventions are carried out both with private citizens in their real environment and with municipalities. The role of municipalities is central in their link to citizens and through their ongoing work regarding consumption and lifestyle issues. Researchers coach and follow households during the intervention year and document their learnings, barriers and successes. Insights from the intervention year are conceptualized into provocations, with the purpose of questioning norms, sparkle debate and inspire to upscaling. In addition to researchers the conceptualization phase also engages service developers, the civil society and other stakeholders. The provocations are externally directed activities and may consist of exhibitions, campaigns, films, or debates with politicians and citizens.

The programme is based on the theoretical framework for social practice theory, which clarifies important dimensions interacting to shape social practices. This framework will also guide us in identifying where changes need to be accomplished in order to establish sustainable consumption as a norm. Conditions for a transformative change is created through the wide constellation of the consortium, including researchers, governmental agencies, local governments, civil society, companies and private citizens. The research is based upon participation from these groups and a transdisciplinary approach including environmental science, design research, behaviour science, political science, city planning, and agriculture. The Mistra Sustainable Lifestyles programme consists of 6 work packages, all tightly integrated. Interventions and provocations will be carried out at four geographically distributed locations in Sweden. Additional locations will take part through workshops and testing of concepts. Municipalities and universities are represented at these locations.

//Elina

Last CESC retreat

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I attended the annual CESC 24-hour retreat last week, where CESC of course stands for the Center for Sustainable Communications. I not only work at CESC part time but I also physically sit at CESC all the time as of one year ago (together with MID4S members Elina Eriksson and Hanna Hasselqvist).

This was the fifth CESC retreat I have attended but it’s different from the previous retreats as it was also the very last. CESC is VINNOVA Centre of Excellence with financing for 10 years and those 10 years will come to a end in 2017. Much of the focus of the activities at the retreat were therefore on what we have accomplished in 10 years, how to wrap up CESC, how to manage its legacy and how the area of ICT, digitalization and sustainability can continue to develop also outside of and after CESC.

We still have the better part of a year to figure these things out and we all certainly hope that the overlap between ICT and sustainability will continue to thrive.

MID4S ♥ Valtech

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The 27th of January, Hanna Hasselqvist and Elina Eriksson were invited to speak at Valtechs lunch seminar on the topic of ICT and Sustainability. The event was fully booked with some 40 attendees. Besides some basics in ICT4S, Hanna and Elina also presented some findings from a couple of research projects.

But, the exchange did not stop there, because the 20th of February Anna Uleander, working with user experience design & sustainability, came to KTH, and gave a guest lecture in our course ”Sustainable ICT in Practice”. The presentation was well received by the students, and there were many questions and comments posed to Anna.

Hopefully this will not be the last exchange with Valtech, who have come a long way to integrate sustainability thinking in their business.

//Elina

Programkonferens EID

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The 6th and 7th of December some of the team members attended the program conference for the research program EID (Energy, IT and Design) arranged (and funded) by the Swedish Energy Agency. The program is in it’s last phase, and will end in the summer of 2017, and has then been running for 10 years!

At the conference, all the project managers in projects funded by the program present the current status of the projects or the results from finished projects. From our group I (Elina) present the project ”User-centred images of the future energy transition”, Björn present his project ”Improved energy counceling and energy habits by Quantified Self Assisted Advisory”, Loove present his project ”Sensing Energy”. For a full program see this PDF. Daniel wrote a longer blog post about the event, including many personal reflections.

Here is a picture of the opening slide, notice Green Leap is mentioned, as a ”result” of the program, with which several of us are affiliated. 🙂

eid_konf2016

/Elina

Global Development Lunch

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Daniel, Cristi and I (and many other KTH employees and some students) were at a lunch meeting yesterday on the topic of how KTH can contribute to global development and to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. More specifically, the plan is to launch a Global Development Hub, which as a first step will provide courses with a challenge-driven approach (read more about challenge driven education in this guide) in collaboration with a few partner universities in Sub-Saharan Africa. The idea is that there will be exchanges where students from KTH and the partner universities visit each other and work, preferably together, on projects related to global challenges in specific local contexts.

If you have experiences of working with developing countries or challenge-driven education or are interested in being involved in KTH Global Development Hub you can send a one-page description of who you are, what you do, and what you have done/want to do. Send the description to erika2@kth.se.

/Hanna