August 8, 2017

Sustainable Consumption

Sustainable Consumption at Emory University

  • Lecturer name: Alice Reznickova
  • Dates: offered since Fall 2016/ongoing
  • Length and format: elective 16 weeks, 2 x 75 minutes
  • Associated credits and evaluation: 3 credits (1 credit hour = 3 hours of work); participation assignments & projects
  • Towards what degree: Bachelor, Sustainability minor cross-listed with Interdisciplinary Studies and Sociology
  • Student profile: Interdisciplinary Studies/Sociology (but a mix of other majors)
  • Class size: Was taught as both a small seminar as well as larger class
  • Background on teacher(s): One professor, interdisciplinary background (Environmental Studies)
  • Learning outcomes:
    • Understand how government policies & producer/consumer choices affect environmental, economic and social sustainability
    • Be able to find information about products/services and assess their sustainability
    • Make links between our political, social, and economic context throughout history and our consumption choices
    • Research different issues related to sustainable consumption locally (on campus, in Atlanta), nationally and globally
    • Understand different sides of sustainability dilemmas
    • Design solutions for a more sustainable future
  • Syllabus: Download
  • Reading materials: See Syllabus
  • Assignments: Students complete two types of assignments:
    1. Participation (helps them prepare for class): short (300-500 words) reflections on readings or on assigned exercises that provide context to the material
    2. 3×5 presentation: 3 minute, 5 powerpoint slides presentation analysing sustainability news
    3. Two debates on the future of consumer society… (one is on green economy vs. de-growth, one is on future societies)
    4. Mid-term/final papers on topics of choice
    5. Group project – designing a solution for sustainable future
  • Innovative approaches:
    • Debates, guest speakers, applied research project (students have to outline step by step how they would achieve what they are proposing)
    • Innovation (both by adding the newest material to the class as well as encouraging students to research current news via the short presentation)
    • Connection to local communities
  • Student feedback: Overall, very positive evaluations – students outlined how their thinking about sustainability has expanded, that they understand sustainable dilemmas (and how solutions to them rest on our underlying values), enjoyed all assignments overall. We also conducted a survey of the students after class and have found that they reported an expanded understanding of sustainability & associated actions, now try to behave more sustainably & communicate about sustainability with others, and want to incorporate sustainability into their careers.