Otago Polytechnic

Prof Samuel Mann is hopeful about the future and how computing can help.

Some people see only two possible futures for humanity: somehow carrying on as we are, or a doomsday scenario of societal collapse. Professor Samuel Mann believes the former is not possible due to the finiteness of our planet's resources, but apocalypse is not inevitable: we can design and adopt new models for our society that will allow us to thrive within limits, meeting basic human needs at a much lower level of resource-use. As a significant discipline, computing must engage in a discussion about its current and future role in shaping our future, incorporating ecological values to help cast a clear vision of what a viable alternative to the status quo might look like.

Sam’s research focuses on the "sustainable practitioner" and the extension of this into a "transformation mindset". To change our trajectory, society must undergo a positive restorative socioecological transformation. The golden thread in Sam’s research is the search for an articulation of the sustainable practitioner and how this can create real impact. He focusses on areas that have leverage in common - where the potential to do good is greater than the negative impact. 

In late 2018 we belatedly celebrated Sam's professorial appointment with a facilitated workshop, ChangeJam. This provided an opportunity for change-makers to leverage their skills and experience, utilising the ethos of transformational professional practice to achieve societal change. Participants were able to further their understanding of how their respective professional practices can make a difference to issues that matter.

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SUSTAINABILITY & TRANSFORMATION

February 2019