US-China Collaborations in Computer Science and Sustainability: A Workshop

Workshop Theme: Sustainability Challenge

September 19 - 20, 2011
DIMACS Center, CoRE Building, Rutgers University

Fred Roberts, DIMACS, froberts at
This workshop is part of the US-China Computer Science Leadership Initiative and the DIMACS Sustainability Initiative.

Workshop Theme: Sustainability Challenge:

The growing human population and increasing pressures for development have led to a variety of challenges for life on our planet, in particular whether current patterns of human activity are sustainable. Human activity is closely tied to the natural environment and there is a two-way interconnection between human activity and environmental processes. Increasingly, we are noting how human activities affect the systems that sustain life, including climate, healthy air and water, availability of food. The earth has finite resources that we need to sustain our life style: sources of energy, clean water, arable land. As environmental conditions change, there are possibilities for new diseases, species can move into areas to which they are non-native and crowd out the species to which we are accustomed, and the human condition can be threatened by environmental change. Fundamental societal structures such as national boundaries and the health of our economic systems can be affected by competition for changing natural resources, shortages and in some cases surpluses. These problems are complex, multi-disciplinary, and intertwined and do not respect international borders. They call for a "science of sustainability" and are prime for US-China collaboration.

Recognizing the challenges to life on our planet as we know it, NSF has initiated a major new initiative on sustainability (SEES) that involves all directorates in the Foundation. In particular, computer science has a major role to play in helping to address the challenge to sustainability. NSF's major international research program, "Partnerships for International Research and Education" (PIRE) will emphasize SEES. This workshop seeks to describe these computer science challenges and will emphasize opportunities for and topics for US-China collaborative projects, both research and educational. The problems of sustainability cross many disciplines. The computer science challenges the workshop identifies can be expected to lead to research on a wide variety of topics of great societal importance such as climate change, environmental health, management of limited natural resources, and the interconnections of these topics with healthy economic systems and enduring social structures.

This workshop follows a series of US-China Computer Science Leadership Summits, featuring leaders of major US and China CS departments and centers. At those summits, it was agreed that "next steps" should include identification of truly collaborative projects. In particular, computer science and sustainability was selected as one of several topics that were excellent topics for initial collaborative projects.

Workshop Logistics: Located at DIMACS Center, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA. Participation by invitation. Some travel support is available through a grant from the National Science Foundation

Dates: September 19 - 20, 2011

For more Information or to express an Interest in Participating: Professor Fred Roberts, Director of DIMACS,

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Document last modified on June 27, 2011.