Digital (un)sustainability at an urban university in Sydney, Australia

Jessica McLean*, Sophia Maalsen, Lisa Lake

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite an exponential increase in Internet use, only minimal consideration of digital technologies in sustainability and urban planning tends to occur within institutions. Further, discourses and practices relating to sustainability, digital technologies and urban planning rarely include consideration of the environmental impacts of digital technology use and data production and storage. This paper examines how an urban university in Australia, the University of Sydney, is attempting to address sustainability issues and to what extent digital technologies are included within that setting. Drawing on interviews with the leads on a sustainability project at the university, a survey of students, scholars and affiliates, and, observations of the institution, this research offers a case study of how digital technologies sit within a current sustainability planning process. Key themes that emerge from this research include lack of visibility of digital technologies as a part of the infrastructure that universities need, as well as assumptions that digital technologies are included in sustainability strategies by default. Urban planners and university managers may respond to these findings by addressing partial sustainability strategies and poor management of escalating digital technological usage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103746
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Australia
  • Digital sustainability
  • Digital technologies
  • Smart cities
  • Sustainability plan
  • Universities


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