EN 277 - Sustainable Consumption and Production

The increasingly unsustainable pressure on the Earth's natural systems calls for radical changes in the way people in the industrialized and in the rapidly growing economies satisfy their appetite for goods and services. Some believe that innovation in technologies is our great hope, while others emphasize the need to change the consumption patterns of individuals and societies. Both necessitate changes in institutions, values, and social arrangements. This advanced seminar examines the role that changes in technology, institutions and culture might play in bringing about the necessary change toward more environmentally sustainable development. Four types of innovation are discussed: in the production process, in product design, in function delivery by way of products and services, and in a larger sociotechnical system. The course draws on theories of technological innovation, consumer behavior and institutionalism as well as empirical case studies from the United States, Europe and some developing countries. The course considers the key drivers of change, such as government policy, market forces, cultural norms, activities of mission-oriented organizations, social movements and others.

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