Gobinda Chowdhury is a Professor of Information Science, Head of the iSchool@northumbria, and Head of the Department of Mathematics and Information Sciences at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England. Prior to joining Northumbria University, he was a Professor and Director of the Centre for Information & Knowledge Management at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia. Professor Chowdhury is a member of the iSchool Executive Committee, and iSchool Membership Committee. Over the past 25 or so years, Professor Chowdhury has actively researched in different areas of information organization and retrieval, digital libraries and information users and usability. His current research interests include sustainability of information focusing particularly on the social and environmental sustainability of digital information systems and services that cut across a number of core information science research areas like information interactions, usability and user-centred design, information and environmental literacy, and so on. Professor Chowdhury has written or edited 15 books and over 150 research papers . He is also actively involved in editorial activities and is on the board of several leading information science journals and conferences. He has chaired and given keynote addresses and invited talks at several international conferences.
From Information Literacy to Environmental Literacy: Design and Delivery of Sustainable Information Services
Sustainability has become a major agenda item for research and policy-making in almost every sphere of life. There are three forms of sustainability – economic sustainability, social sustainability and environmental sustainability. In the context of information systems and services, economic sustainability calls for sustainable funding support and impact or value for money; social sustainability refers to equitable and better access to, and use of, information for everyone in society; and environmental sustainability requires that the environmental impact of information systems and services should be reduced as far as practicable.
One of the major goals of information literacy is to promote the use of information systems and services, and in that context information literacy programmes promote the social sustainability of information services. However, in order to promote access and use of information, people should not only be information literate, additional efforts must be made to make information systems and services more user-centred and adaptable so that the users have to spend minimum time and effort to access and use information, and instead they should have more time for accomplishing the task or problem in hand. The more difficult an information system or service is to use, the more time a user needs to spend on it, and this increases the environmental costs. Studies show that more than half of the environmental costs of ICT, in information systems and services, come from the end user energy costs. More user-and context-specific services and applications can not only reduce the user time and effort, they can improve user experience and thus improve the impact of information services. Furthermore, environmental literacy of the end users, and more importantly environmental factors in the decision-making processes for design and implementation can significantly improve the environmental sustainability of information systems and services. This talk will address the above issues, and based on evidences from some ongoing research activities, it will identify some emerging areas of research that can improve the social and environmental, and thereby the economic, sustainability of digital information systems and services.