Mar 062018

Ph. D. Florencia Sortheix: “Happiness may be consistent with sustainable lifestyles”

Ph. D Florencia Sortheix currently works as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki (Social Psychology).

Ph. D Florencia Sortheix currently works as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki (Social Psychology).

Everything is ready for a new edition of the EADA International Week, one of the cornerstones of EADA’s master programmes that will be held from the 12th to the 16th of March. It is an opportunity to study a topic outside your usual curriculum and to share the classroom with participants from the rest of specialized masters. One of the courses is ‘Sustainability & well-being: developing sustainable behaviors’, which will be conducted by Ph.D. Florencia Sortheix, who has a wide expertise on interactions between personal and cultural values and sustainability and well-being outcomes. In the following interview, we talk to her about the main focus points of her seminar.

What are your main objectives in this course?
The course will provide basic knowledge, theories and research on environmental and social psychology to define and understand sustainable behavior and sustainable organizations. Specifically, the course will describe how future managers can develop interventions to influence their own sustainable behavior, the sustainable behavior of their employees and the behavior of their organizations. In this sense, the objectives are:

• To evaluate their own sustainable (pro-environmental) behavior and follow an agenda to improve it towards more sustainable lifestyles.
• To become aware of the factors to consider when designing interventions to promote sustainable behaviors.
• Learn how to identify a sustainable organization and about the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility and its critics.
• Learn about the cultural and social context of societies’ development towards sustainability.

The course will follow the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) theory. Can you explain what this theory is?
The Behaviour Change Wheel is a theoretical framework explaining the most important factors that can influence a person´s behavior. This science of behavior change has identified personal, group and structural drivers of behaviors. In this course, we will apply this framework to help participants promote their own sustainable behaviors and that of others.

What do you understand for sustainability?
The course defines sustainability in terms of the triple bottom line: 1) taking care of the environment, e.g., adhering to sustainable ways of production and use of natural resources 2) contribute to the development and well-being of the community and society, and 3) finding ways of being profitable while considering the impact of the business and the value created for the host society. At the individual level, a sustainable behavior is defined in terms of pro-environmental actions that are carried out to preserve our natural environment.

In the course, Florencia will give som keys to develop sustainable behaviors.

In the course, Florencia will give som keys to develop sustainable behaviors.

What are the main ways to apply the BCW model to develop sustainable change/ behaviors in organizations?
In order to promote sustainable behaviors in individuals and organizations the course will explain the personal motivational factors (values, norms, attitudes), social (social norms, community connections, social support, leader’s opinion) and structural factors (laws, infrastructure, etc.) that can promote or function as barriers of a change towards sustainability. In the course, we will work with case studies of organizations which implemented this type of changes.

What are the links between more sustainable lifestyles and organizations with well-being?
The path to happiness may also be consistent with sustainable lifestyles. It seems that sustainability is related to basic human needs, values, goals, and activities that contribute to long-lasting happiness. In the last class, we will also work with the concept of sustainable well-being societies. A sustainable well-being society strives to find answers to these challenges in particular. The natural environment forms the basis and sets the critical boundaries for all human actions. Within these limits, social and human capital and efficient economic systems and governance models need to be seen as important enablers of the ultimate aim –human well–being.

Could you give us an example of a company that promotes sustainable practices?
Companies that promote sustainable behaviors as part of their core strategy are, for example, the Kandalama resort in Sri Lanka (a case we study in class), also large companies like Danone, Disney or Ikea.

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