Sustainable Consumption, Emory University, since 2016

  • Lecturer name: Alice Reznickova
  • Dates: offered since Fall 2016/ongoing
  • Length and format: elective 16 weeks, 2 x 75 minutes
  • Associated credits and evaluation: 3 credits (1 credit hour = 3 hours of work); participation assignments & projects
  • Towards what degree: Bachelor, Sustainability minor cross-listed with Interdisciplinary Studies and Sociology
  • Student profile: Interdisciplinary Studies/Sociology (but a mix of other majors)
    • Class size: Was taught as both a small seminar as well as larger class. Approximately 40 students.
  • Background on teacher(s): One professor, interdisciplinary background (Environmental Studies)
  • Learning outcomes:
    • Understand how government policies & producer/consumer choices affect environmental, economic and social sustainability
    • Be able to find information about products/services and assess their sustainability
    • Make links between our political, social, and economic context throughout history and our consumption choices
    • Research different issues related to sustainable consumption locally (on campus, in Atlanta), nationally and globally
    • Understand different sides of sustainability dilemmas
    • Design solutions for a more sustainable future
  • Syllabus: Download
  • Reading materials: See Syllabus
  • Assignments: Students complete two types of assignments:
    1. Participation (helps them prepare for class): short (300-500 words) reflections on readings or on assigned exercises that provide context to the material
    2. 3×5 presentation: 3 minute, 5 powerpoint slides presentation analysing sustainability news
    3. Two debates on the future of consumer society… (one is on green economy vs. de-growth, one is on future societies)
    4. Mid-term/final papers on topics of choice
    5. Group project – designing a solution for sustainable future
  • Innovative approaches:
    • Debates, guest speakers, applied research project (students have to outline step by step how they would achieve what they are proposing)
    • Innovation (both by adding the newest material to the class as well as encouraging students to research current news via the short presentation)
    • Connection to local communities
  • Student feedback: Overall, very positive evaluations – students outlined how their thinking about sustainability has expanded, that they understand sustainable dilemmas (and how solutions to them rest on our underlying values), enjoyed all assignments overall. A survey was conducted among students after class, which found that they reported an expanded understanding of sustainability & associated actions, and subsequently try to behave more sustainably & communicate about sustainability with others, and want to incorporate sustainability into their careers.