Marketing Ethics and Sustainability

Marketing Ethics and Sustainability, Umeå University (2008-2016)

  • Program: Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, with a focus on Marketing
  • Lecturer: Johan Jansson
  • Class size: 90 students
  • Duration: 5 weeks, 40 hours per week per student; mandatory for program students
  • Objective: learning outcomes include being able to:
    1. Compare and critically reflect upon classical normative ethical theories and contemporary concepts related to marketing ethics and sustainability,
    2. Develop a clear understanding of and be able to critically discuss sustainability challenges facing planet Earth, future businesses and marketing endeavors,
    3. Identify and describe marketing ethics and sustainability issues and dilemmas with positive and negative implications for different stakeholders,
    4. Critically reflect upon the consequences of different marketing methods and apply a marketing ethics and sustainability perspective on organizational activities,
    5. Evaluate the impact of corporate and consumer decisions on human life, society, and the natural environment, locally, nationally and internationally,
    6. Propose solutions to marketing challenges with ethical and sustainability implications relevant for marketing management.
  • Focus: considering the environmental, social and ethical implications of marketing decisions; understanding how organizations can become “agents of unsustainability and injustice in society”, and “how these organizations can be transformed by stakeholders, such as consumers and owners, and by institutional reforms”. Sustainability is analyzed at the institutional level, focusing on the socially and structurally embedded nature of corporate actions in general and marketing issues in particular.
  • Innovative approaches: using real companies as case study examples of sustainability marketing challenges, providing students with real-world challenges. Has also shown documentary films, invited guest speakers, and engaged with role-playing.
  • Student evaluation: an ethical seminar, where students work in groups to apply an ethical theory to a given situation; a midterm and individual written exam; a company case assignment resulting in a group presentation.
  • Course evaluation: generally very positive.

Note that the main lecturer is now at Lund University and is developing a similar course at the Masters level for 2018.