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Sustainable Consumption Institute

Students at Whitworth Park

Our teaching

We teach courses, and provide guest lectures, seminars and workshops, in many subject areas from business to sociology.

Undergraduate course units

Environmental Politics

This course unit will introduce you to some of the key historical, theoretical and practical dimensions of environmental politics and policy. It explores:

  • challenges posed by environmental issues to political institutions
  • connections between local and global environmental issues
  • power relationships between developed and developing countries, and between social groups within political communities
  • the political nature of environmental problems and controversies
  • the diverse historical, political, and cultural roots of contemporary environmental problems and controversies
  • the various strategies and tactics used for environmental advocacy and change.

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Innovation for a Sustainable Society

This course unit will enable you to discuss concepts behind the effort to achieve sustainability, and where the real-world challenges and opportunities lie.

Innovation is crucial in developing less resource-intensive ways of meeting key needs of society such as food, transport and energy. Solutions will include new products and services, changing behaviours and even re-shaping entire systems. But how is this possible when so many societal actors are involved? What roles can consumers, businesses, governments and new technologies play in this transformation?

This course unit answers these fundamental questions, and introduces cutting-edge ideas and debates in this area, by bringing together world-class sustainability expertise from academic discplines including sociology, economics, management and innovation studies.

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Sustainability, Consumption and Global Responsibilities

Sustainability is one of the most challenging and important issues of our time. It relates to numerous issues affecting the very future of humankind, including:

  • climate change
  • economic growth
  • global inequalities and social justice
  • the depletion of natural resources.

These concerns are currently being addressed in debates about the nature, necessity and possibility of sustainable consumption, and so this course will introduce you to the ways in which consumers, businesses and governments are responding to these challenges.

Through research articles, case studies, web resources and real-world initiatives, you will study several topics including:

  • consumer culture
  • fair trade
  • food systems
  • global commodity chains
  • political consumption.

Course unit leader

  • David Evans

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Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Global South

Sustainability is one of the most challenging and important issues of our time. In fact, sustainable consumption and production (SCP) is one of the key sustainable development goals (SDGs) identified by the United Nations (UN).

How we consume resources across societies - for example, how water, energy and food is provisioned within homes and cities - shapes the both economic growth and the depletion of natural resources. SCP is also linked to inequalities in wellbeing, social justice and gender.

Countries in the global south face specific challenges in addressing SCP. These challenges are often linked to the specific histories of development, such as:

  • legacies of colonialism and modernity
  • the unevenness of economic, political and infrastructural development.

To understand SCP in the global south, we need to engage with historical and everyday geographies, and political ecology perspectives, to reflect on the ways in which historical legacies, everyday lives, and resource systems influence the dynamics of SCP.

This module explores these issues using the topics of water, energy, food and shopping, focusing on how they are expressed in countries such as China, India and Brazil.

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Watch the video

Josephine Mylan, course unit leader of Innovation for a Sustainable Society, introduces her study area.

Taught master's course units

Innovation and the Knowledge Economy

This course unit will introduce you to the complex interactions between knowledge, economy and society, exploring:

  • how science, technology and innovation are related to each other
  • the processes that generate progress in knowledge and their associated institutions
  • the spread of innovations throughout society
  • what is meant by science, technology and innovation.

The course unit tackles key approaches and theoretical perspectives from the sociology, economics and history of science, technology and innovation.

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Research Methods

This course unit will provide you with practical training in management research and improve your understanding of the key issues and debates surrounding research in management.

You will become familiar with the choices you must make at each step of the research process, and learn how to develop strong arguments for your choices.

The course unit will focus particularly on research in innovation management and entrepreneurship studies.

Course unit leader

  • Frank Boons

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Sociology of Consumption

This course unit studies the emergence and development of the sociology of consumption, a key sub-discipline within sociology.

You will examine key theoretical texts and recent research in the field, including themes such as:

  • consumer politics
  • critiques of consumerism
  • cultural theory
  • material culture
  • political economy
  • stratification and taste
  • sustainable consumption.

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Sustainable and Responsible Business

This course unit explores how businesses can maximise the environmental and social value generated.

You will be introduced to key conceptual frameworks and management tools used to identify the environmental and social issues facing organisations, and to develop more sustainable business solutions.

We will use real-world cases to build your knowledge of organisational challenges, competitive rewards and influence of the wider business environment on the development, implementation, and reporting of sustainable and responsible business practice. Through group and individual projects, you will learn how to devise and effectively communicate strategy and rationale for sustainable business, both within organisations and to the broader community. You will also be encouraged to reflect upon your role in promoting environmentally and socially sustainable management.

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