Upon learning about the Sustainability Marketing and Consumption course I was very interested to take it as it seemed to be very different from anything I have taken before. I am studying at the school of business in Calgary, Canada and there are no course offered on sustainability. I have taken a number of different marketing courses and have a good understanding of the traditional rhetoric on what marketing is and how it delivers benefits to firms and consumers. Sustainability as a subject in an academic setting is something that I have yet to explore. However I feel that it is something that is lacking from my education as it is a major issue.
I have always personally felt a level of skepticism as to whether or not marketing and consumption in the current business environment adequately provides societal benefit. For me, the terms sustainability and marketing and consumption are almost contradictory in nature. The first lecture brought to light some questions for me based on what I see as the disconnect between sustainability and marketing.
Firstly, I felt that starting the lectures with a brief look at the rise of consumer culture was and interesting place to start the topic and gets to the core of the contradiction I see. In my opinion consumer culture represents a clearly unsustainable drive to attain more and more. It’s this culture that gives rise to the function of marketing to fuel further consumption. It is in this way that I perceive much of the consumption that exists in western societies and the role that marketing has. From this I would argue that marketing and consumption in their present form are inherently unsustainable. I am hoping that this course can change this view and help to show how marketing can be pursued in a more sustainable manner.
The second question that the course material raised for me was based on the definition of Sustainable Development. In the course notes it was defined as follows: ”Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Upon looking at this more closely after the lecture I was wondering who the definition refers to. Whose needs? My travels over the past few years to lesser developed regions around the world has made me acutely aware of the differences in what people around the world “need.” If the definition can’t apply to everyone, do we marginalize the needs of certain groups in the pursuit of our own?
I look forward to learning about how sustainability can exist in a practical sense and I hope this course can help to reconcile some of the differences I see between sustainability and consumer culture.