Master’s students in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability
Master’s students in Social Sciences
Master’s students in Food Economy and Consumption
BSc or equivalent proficiency in an appropriate subject
Having completed this course, students are able to identify, describe and critically assess the basic research approaches (economics, sociology, psychology) and main research contributions to sustainable consumption. Students are able to explain how and why different theoretical and methodological research traditions present different pictures of sustainable consumption. Students are also able to apply the different research approaches and findings to practical and policy problems and anticipate their policy implications. They have a basic capacity to develop real-world research questions and find appropriate theoretical and methodological ways to answer them. They are able to describe the skills-set of experts working in this field and can imagine what skills they themselves would need to serve in such expert positions. They can also present constructive and academically grounded criticism toward present-day sustainable consumption policies.
1st period, recommended timing second year
- Research traditions in consumer studies and their implications for sustainable consumption research and policy
- Relationships between individualist and structural approaches to sustainable consumption research and policy interventions
- Research-policy interactions in sustainable consumption and the nature of sustainable consumption expertise
The course consists of 21 hours of classroom teaching (+21 hours notes & reflection), 10 hours of off-campus assignment, 50 hours of readings, and a take-home exam (20 hours incl. preparation).
Alternative way to complete the course: https://moodle.helsinki.fi/course/view.php?id=26234
1) Holt, D. B. (2012). Constructing sustainable consumption from ethical values to the cultural transformation of unsustainable markets. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 644(1), 236-255.
2) Heiskanen, E. (2005). The performative nature of consumer research: Consumers' environmental awareness as an example. Journal of Consumer Policy, 28(2), 179-201.
3) Newton, P., & Meyer, D. (2013). Exploring the attitudes-action gap in household resource consumption: Does "environmental lifestyle" segmentation align with consumer behaviour? Sustainability, 5(3), 1211-1233.
4) Ölander, F., & Thøgersen, J. (2014). Informing versus nudging in environmental policy. Journal of Consumer Policy, 37(3), 341-356.
5) Spaargaren, G. (2011). Theories of practices: Agency, technology, and culture: Exploring the relevance of practice theories for the governance of sustainable consumption practices in the new world-order. Global Environmental Change, 21(3), 813-822.
6) Shove, E. (2014). Putting practice into policy: reconfiguring questions of consumption and climate change. Contemporary Social Science, 9(4), 415-429.
7) Heiskanen, E., Mont, O., & Power, K. (2014). A map is not a territory—making research more helpful for sustainable consumption policy. Journal of Consumer Policy, 37(1), 27-44.
Graded on a scale of 0-5. Attendance in class and participation in group assignments (30%), exam (based on lectures, assignments and readings, 70%). Evaluation criteria for exam: application of knowledge, understanding, argumentation, logical structure, personal reflection. More detailed criteria available on the course Moodle page.
This is a multilingual course. Lectures and readings are in English but students can submit papers in Finnish or Swedish.
Eva Heiskanen, Consumer Society Research Centre, University of Helsinki
The course can be replaced with the course KE52 Kulutus ja ympäristö