Ethical and Sustainable Consumption

llsms2023  2017-2018  Louvain-la-Neuve

Ethical and Sustainable Consumption
5 credits
30.0 h
Swaen Valérie;
Main themes
This course is designed to increase awareness and provide tools for analyzing ethics, beliefs and attitudes related to marketing and consumption, and how they relate to issues of sustainability. One of the major causes of the deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production, particularly in industrialized countries. Beyond the necessity to promote efficiency in production processes there is a need to shift to more sustainable patterns of consumption (e.g., environmentally-friendly behaviors, local products consumption, voluntary simplicity, de-growth). In this context, this course addresses the question of consumer social responsibility in the transformation process towards more sustainable consumption-production-patterns from an environmental and social justice perspective. Moreover, based on some non-ethical practices quite frequently observed in practice, we will discuss the growth of consumer activism as well as the design and implementation of a sustainable marketing approach.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :



During their programme, students of the LSM Master¿s in management or Master¿s in Business engineering will have developed the following capabilities¿

1.1 Demonstrate independent reasoning,look critically and consciously acquired knowledge (both academic and common sense) and managerial practices, in light of emerging circumstances and their outcomes

1.2Decide and act by incorporating ethical and humanistic values, integrity, respect for the laws and conventions, solidarity and civic action, and sustainable development.

1.3Decide and act responsibly,  while taking into account the social, economic and environmental sometimes antinomic, outcomes in the short, medium and long term, for the various stakeholders$

2.2 Master highly specific knowledge in one or two areas of management : advanced and current research-based knowledge and methods.

3.3 Consider problems using a systemic and holistic approach : recognize the different aspects of the situation and their interactions in a dynamic process.






The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
1.    Consumer sovereignty and sustainable consumption: What are the different types of sustainable consumption patterns (e.g., buying fair-trade, buying green, but also sharing, recycling, re-using; we can also debates on simplicity, sufficiency and de-growth)? Who are the sustainable consumers? What are consumers' attitudes and behaviors toward consumption and sustainability? Which potential drivers might motivate consumers to use their buying power as a sort of "vote" for more responsible alternatives? What potential barriers might prevent consumers from acting more responsibly?
2.    Ethical issues related to marketing and consumption: We will debate on the ethical critiques of consumerism, as well as some common ethical issues related to marketing and consumption (e.g., impact of consumption decisions on the economy and the environment, privacy issues in the interconnected world, digital property, deceit, outright lies, or manipulation).
3.    The growth of consumer activism: In this digital world, more than ever before, consumer movements challenge social order and transform it through the propagation of ideologies of consumption in hope of changing mainstream practices. Consumer activism tactics include boycotts, 'buycotts', petitioning the government, media activism, and organizing interest groups.
4.    Designing and implementing a sustainable marketing strategy: Sustainable marketing decisions should be ethical and guided by sustainable business practices which ultimately are the only way to resolve the tensions between consumers' wants and long term interests, companies' requirements, society's long run interest and the need for environmental balance. Sustainable marketing is thus the next evolution after being market-oriented, and requires an adaptation to a) the information used to make decisions, b) the criteria used to measure performance and 3) the company's values, mission and vision statements with which marketing objectives must fit. Moreover, removing the barriers for consumers to engage in beneficial behaviors requires adopting a broader social marketing approach that we will investigate more specifically.
Teaching methods
The format is based on active learning and includes lectures, case studies, videos, incidents and class discussion, qualified speakers and a project work by group.
Evaluation methods
Continuous assessment
Individual preparation (case studies & reading of academic articles) during the six-week course
Examination in session
June: Individual work to be done in session
September: Written exam on the whole course material (3h)
Unavailability: 30/06
The exact list of references will be quoted or provided via Moddle. Examples of references include the following ones :
-    Harrison, R., Newholm, T., & Shaw D. (2007), The Ethical Consumer, Sage.
-    Emery B. (2012), Sustainable marketing, Pearson.
-    Palazzo, G. & Wentland, M. (2011), Responsible management practices for the 21st century, Pearson.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Master [120] in Management

Master [120] in Management