This 3S-led postgraduate module investigates the impacts of consumption on social and environmental systems, and how these might be reduced. It presents the key theories and debates around sustainable consumption, and critically examines a range of strategies for achieving it, covering governmental, business, community and individual actors. A mainstream ‘green growth’ policy approach to sustainable consumption is contrasted with an alternative ‘new economics’ or ‘steady state economy’ model, and we examine a range of perspectives on what drives consumption patterns. Using innovative teaching methods and workshop exercises we apply these theories to real world examples, providing engaging, experiential learning opportunities. We then critically assess a selection of sustainable consumption initiatives in detail, for example local organic food, eco-housing, Transition Towns, local currencies and community-based behaviour-change campaigns. Students will be required to engage with and critically evaluate various theories of consumption behaviour and social change, so some background in social science is strongly recommended (although not compulsory).
Module organiser: Gill Seyfang
with contributions from Tom Hargreaves, Noel Longhurst, Jason Chilvers Helen Pallett and Irene Lorenzoni