22-28 July 2020 Online Event
UTC timezone

Open Source Environmentalism: A Report on Classroom Experiences of Teaching Digital Rights Politics in the Context of Planetary Consciousness

Not scheduled
25 Minute Presentation Community Building and Diversity


Kit Heintzman (Harvard University)


Drawing on two courses that I taught at Harvard University this year, the talk will focus on a piece of free software that I integrated into my teaching, by asking students to track the carbon emissions associated with their internet usage through the Shift Project’s Carbonalyser Firefox Extension. The talk will present two related themes of teaching with this particular piece of free software. The first is the importance of integrating open source tools into humanities classrooms. Most students who are not enrolled in computer sciences classes do not know what “open source” means, nor do they understand “propriety software”. Every time a teacher integrates a piece of free software into their course design is an opportunity to teach students about the politics of the digital tools that they rely upon. Using open source tools because a way for teachers to help students grow as digital citizens, but only when the politics of “free software” are explained to those students. The second dynamic of the talk focuses on the particular case study of having had students in two classes this year work with Carbonalyser to measure the environmental footprint of their related course work. The talk will review how I linked values of planetary consciousness at the scale of carbon emissions to issues of digital rights, privacy, and the value of transparency in software development. Diversifying the free software community requires attention to lay-users.

Level of Difficulty Beginner

Primary author

Kit Heintzman (Harvard University)

Presentation Materials

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