9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN12 Environment and Society

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Consumerism and Environment Building I, 1E6

Towards a Culture of Sustainable Consumption: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Organizational and Individual Learning for Sustainability in Educational Institutions

The problems of global change and the search for sustainable solutions worldwide are central challenges of the present and future. Therefore educational institutions play a pivotal role in providing youth and young adults with the competencies needed to shape and work towards a sustainable future.

The Project BINK sets out to explore how educational institutions can become places that promote a more sustainable lifestyle among young adults, especially considering food as an exemplary field of sustainable consumption.

At the heart of the project lay three core assumptions:
(a) Educational institutions have an effect on individual consumption in two ways. On one hand they act as a facilitator of educational offers related to sustainable consumption that make students reflect their own consumption patterns more conscious. On the other, educational institutions themselves are consumption households and as such places in which school members consume.
(b) By way of implementing coordinated development measures that systematically align formal and informal learning settings, the project aims to collaboratively conceptualize, develop and stabilise a culture of sustainable consumption in six participating educational institutions.
(c)To effectively respond to the challenges outlined, a transdisciplinary approach is chosen. In close collaboration, the protagonists of the participating educational institutions and researchers are developing a set of interventions.

The processes of organizational change are guided by the concept of an educational institution´s culture of consumption. The analytical framework evolved in three corresponding steps:
(1) The theoretical foundation was derived from a review of existing theories related to participatory organizational development and organizational/school culture.
(2) In an empirical study, a number of 24 non-affiliated educational institutions with different degrees of implemented and consolidated structures and initiatives related to sustainable consumption were examined in order to validate or complement the framework.
(3) In a series of workshops and meetings with the steering committees of the affiliated educational institutions, a transdisciplinary discourse over the framework was initiated.

The findings produced, identify the relevant fields and parameters of a consumption culture for educational institutions and show implications for the change processes towards a sustainable culture to promote consumer competence among its students.