John Petersen, Director, Environmental Studies Program, Oberlin College
A new class of technologies – made possible by developments in hardware, software and networking and informed by social psychology – are enabling the emergence of novel forms of feedback on resource consumption and environmental quality. “Sociotechnical” feedback or “Ecofeedback”, delivered at multiple scales and through multiple modes, has the potential to reconnect humans to nature, stimulate systems thinking, and motivate behaviors that are more attuned to ecological constraints and opportunities. For example, in a pilot implementation of “Environmental Dashboard” in Oberlin, technology has been installed to monitor electricity and water flows through individual buildings and throughout the city. This real-time information is translated into compelling and easily interpretable animations and combined with images and words drawn from community members. John Petersen, environmental studies program director at Oberlin College, will explore the early research indicating that this type of technology enhances systems thinking skills and information retention in the classroom.