Special Issue: “Exploring Relationships between Digitalization and Sustainability”

We invite manuscripts from a range of disciplines to explore relationships between sustainability and digitalization and in doing so respond to one of the grand challenges of our time.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Leif Skiftenes Flak
Guest Editor
Department of Information systems, University of Agder, 4630 Kristiansand, Norway
Interests: digital transformation; digital government; benefits management; eparticipation; digitalization & sustainability

Prof. Dr. Devinder Thapa
Guest Editor
Department of Information systems, University of Agder, 4630 Kristiansand, Norway
Interests: information and communicaiton technology for development (ICT4D)

Prof. Dr. Alexander Ruser
Guest Editor
Department of Sociology & Social Work, University of Agder, 4630 Kristiansand, Norway
Interests: environmental sociology; digital communication & political networks; expertise & sustainability

Dr. Vito Laterza
Guest Editor
Department of Global Development and Planning, University of Agder, 4630 Kristiansand, Norway
Interests: anthropology; digitalization; sustainable development; political economy; higher education; communication

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:

  • Abstract (maximum 500 words) submission March 26, 2021
  • Notification of abstract acceptance: April 16, 2021
  • Full manuscript deadline: September 10, 2021

Please note that an online author workshop will be hosted on Thursday April 22 at 3-5pm (CET). All authors of accepted abstracts will be invited.

Prof. Dr. Leif Skiftenes Flak
Prof. Dr. Devinder Thapa
Prof. Dr. Alexander Ruser
Dr. Vito Laterza
Guest Editors

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.


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