February 3, 2016

“Sustainable consumption”, University of Leeds (since 2010)

  • Lecturer: Lucie Middlemiss
  • Program: Environment and Business; Sustainability and Environmental Management; or as an elective.
  • Duration: 11 weeks, 10 lectures (1 hour); 10 seminars to discuss papers relating to the lecture topic (1 hour).
  • Credits: 10 credit module – students have to do 120 credits per year.
  • Class size: 60 students
  • Objective: students gain a deeper understanding of the role of consumption and consumer behaviour in sustainability, as well as the ability to apply that understanding in a practical setting. Includes:
    • understanding history and theories of social change, key debates and concerns re. SC
    • developing a critical appreciation of the role of consumption and the consumer in sustainability;
    • demonstrating an understanding of the implications of academic knowledge for policy and practice on sustainable consumption in a practical setting.
  • No set text – 2 academic papers are used as discussion points for each class, and at this level no materials are lacking
  • Innovative aspects:
    • Lectures begin with a perceived truth (e.g., People are selfish; We don’t have a choice; Consumption is meaningful!), which students then critique.
    • Students are asked to develop a written report, where they take on the role of critiquing an intervention for sustainable consumption, of their choice. They analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the intervention (an attempt to reduce the environmental and/or social impacts of people’s behaviour), including an outline of the theory/theories they will engage with, the empirical evidence, and the winners/losers of the intervention.
  • Course feedback: consistently good feedback; placing theory in relation to their own lives is highly appreciated.