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Special Issue "Exploring Relationships between Digitalization and Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Social Ecology and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 October 2021).

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The global sustainability challenge is currently a key concern for policy makers and researchers. The United Nations has defined sustainability broadly in 3 dimensions: societal, economic, and biospherical. The recent European Green Deal illustrates the urgency of the problem and the massive efforts needed to respond to it. Several actors, e.g., the European Union and Digital Europe, point to digital technologies as key enablers in addressing the sustainability challenges. At the same time, research shows that digital technologies could have negative as well as positive impacts on sustainability. Digitalization drives global energy consumption to new heights. Digital communication is instrumental in spreading climate skepticism and other narratives that oppose transitions towards more sustainable futures. In summary, sustainability and digitalization are broad and complex phenomena and the relationship between them has not been extensively explored by the academic community so far. There is thus a pressing need to develop more and better knowledge on this relationship.

The research domain outlined above is inherently multi- or interdisciplinary. We therefore invite manuscripts from a broad range of disciplines including but not limited to information systems, sociology, anthropology, political science, public administration, and urban planning.

The Special Issue seeks to contribute to an improved theoretical understanding of the relationship between digitalization and sustainability. We invite both conceptual and empirical papers that may provide new insights in the form of frameworks, theory development, and practical examples of the mentioned relationship.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The impact of digital technologies on the triple bottom line (societal, economic, and environmental)
  • The circular economy and digital technologies
  • Big data and analytics for sustainable development
  • Positive and negative impact of digital technologies on energy consumption
  • Digital technologies as catalysts for sustainable societal transformation
  • Green IT / Climate impact of digital technologies
  • Digital communication and sustainability
  • Micro-, meso-, and macro-level analyses

 The detailed schedule is as following:

Authors are encouraged to submit abstracts (maximum 500 words) for consideration by the guest editors who will provide swift feedback via e-mail

  • Full manuscript deadline: September 10, 2021

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainability
  • digitalization
  • digital technologies
  • ICT4D
  • smart cities
  • UN sustainability development goals

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Article
Digitalizing Higher Education in Light of Sustainability and Rebound Effects—Surveys in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12912; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212912 - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 270
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has focused attention not only on health and social issues, but on the issue of digital transformation as well. Within a very short time, universities had to convert their courses to digital formats and university life was reduced to a [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has focused attention not only on health and social issues, but on the issue of digital transformation as well. Within a very short time, universities had to convert their courses to digital formats and university life was reduced to a minimum. To shed light on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected universities, we investigated the following questions: How was this transformation accomplished? What advantages and disadvantages did it bring with it? How sustainable was this transformation? and What can the future of higher education look like? This study is based on the responses to two questionnaires for university staff and students conducted at the Chemnitz University of Technology between mid-July and September, 2020 (n = 369), and between February and March, 2021 (n = 252). Both questionnaires were analysed using descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis. The results show wide variations in response to digital teaching and learning. Digital teaching and working/learning from home have brought both multiple benefits and multiple challenges at the same time. Working and learning from home was perceived as both enriching and overwhelming—even for the same individual. Respondents appreciated the flexibility associated with digital teaching, even though digital teaching was perceived as imposing excessive demands. This study reveals striking gaps in our knowledge and our actions linking digital transformation and sustainability and highlights how digital teaching can be further developed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Relationships between Digitalization and Sustainability)
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Article
The Determinants and Effects of Competitiveness: The Role of Digitalization in the European Economies
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11689; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111689 - 22 Oct 2021
Viewed by 352
Abstract
Improving national competitiveness is fundamental to raising long-term economic growth rates and enhancing living standards. The determinants of competitiveness change along with macroeconomic factors, business environment and consumer demand. These changes are visible in the growing importance of digitalization of enterprises of all [...] Read more.
Improving national competitiveness is fundamental to raising long-term economic growth rates and enhancing living standards. The determinants of competitiveness change along with macroeconomic factors, business environment and consumer demand. These changes are visible in the growing importance of digitalization of enterprises of all sectors that has become a critical factor for competitiveness in recent years and will likely become even more essential. The main determinants of competitiveness performance in the European Union (EU) were analyzed in the proposed research. The study included a holistic approach to competitiveness and economic growth and aimed to reveal the factors that determine and contribute to the growth of European economies, as well as to identify clusters of the EU countries. The criteria of competitiveness that are significant for estimation of competitiveness factors and their relationship with economic growth were revealed by using factor analysis. The results indicate that the most significant factors are F1 Macroeconomic Stability, F2 Research and Development (R&D) and Digitalization, F3 Foreign Direct Investment and F4 Trade Openness. By applying cluster analysis, the EU countries were grouped into five clusters on the basis of the contribution of competitiveness factors to economic growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Relationships between Digitalization and Sustainability)
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