Ethical and Sustainable Consumption

llsms2023  2020-2021  Louvain-la-Neuve

Ethical and Sustainable Consumption
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information below is subject to change, in particular that concerning the teaching mode (presential, distance or in a comodal or hybrid format).
5 credits
30.0 h
Ruwet Coline (compensates Swaen Valérie); 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.
Upon completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Evaluate the impact of corporate and consumer decisions on, society, and the natural environment,
  • Identify and evaluate the different forms of consumption behaviors and their impact on sustainability,
  • Identify and activate the social and psychological motivators behind pro-sustainable behaviors,
  • Explore the use of social marketing to plan and implement behavioural changes in consumers towards a more sustainable lifestyle,
  • Propose solutions to marketing challenges with ethical and sustainability implications relevant for marketing management.
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

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

The format is based on active learning and includes lectures, critical review of scientific articles, case studies, videos, incidents and class discussion, qualified speakers and a project work by group.
Evaluation methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

Discussion and active participation will be very important in this course It's only through sharing and confronting opinions and ideas that you can forge your own values and convictions and develop knowledge in this field. The participation will thus be fully part of the final evaluation. The student is considered as an independent, self-organised learner. We expect every student to prepare the readings in order to be able to contribute as actively as he/she can to the discussions in class.  Moreover, students’ acquisition of knowledge will be assessed using an individual written exam. Finally, students will apply the acquired knowledge in the context of a group project.
In the second exam session, the results obtained for participation and the group works in June are not modified (40% of the total evaluation). The student retake the individual written exam and carry out a critical discussion of a scientific article related to the subject (60%).
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