Should marketing educators do more to help combat climate change?

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team | 2024

A study questions marketing’s growth mantra and its impact on climate change, urging more focus on ‘marketing for good’ among educators.

A University of Arizona researcher concerned about the environmental impacts of overconsumptionand the marketing that drives it – believes it doesn’t have to be this way, and offers solutions. 


Photo Credit: Markus Spiske. Pexels

In a recent study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Macromarketing, lead author Sabrina Helm, an associate professor at the US university, and her co-authors surveyed marketing educators from 42 countries to understand if, and how, they are integrating climate change into their curricula. 


They found that just over one-third of respondents actively integrate sustainability and climate change into their classrooms. About half recognise the need for change, but feel stuck teaching ‘business-as-usual’ marketing curricula. 


The remaining respondents value the standard marketing curricula. Members of this group don’t deny climate change. Rather, they believe marketing education is not the place to address the issue. 


“It does not make sense to teach our standard business-as-usual marketing repertoire while we are confronted with these grand challenges in society,” Helm says.  


“I hope people realise how much impact we have, as educators, on the decisions of business leaders of the future. If climate change is caused by overconsumption, and marketing … is driving consumer behaviour, you can immediately see the connection and need for change.” 


Suggested solutions and supporting resources 


In the paper, the research team also provides suggested solutions and supporting resources for educators interested in altering their research or curriculum to promote an economy that incentivises the restoration of nature and net-zero carbon emissions. 


“It’s my role, and the role of all educators, to drive these discussions in the classroom,” Helm says.  


“I don’t have solutions to the climate crisis, and I can’t revamp the capitalist system, but I can bring new ideas to my students. I can teach them to ask good questions and persevere in getting answers and enacting good practices when they get into their careers.” 


Helms continues: “The model that requires infinite growth cannot be workable when you think about resource constraints on our planet. It will require rethinking what economic success means and changing how we live our lives.  


“The task is huge, but … it’s quite interesting to think about marketing in that context because marketing has been pursuing this growth mantra, but we can instead use marketing for good.” 


Helm, who also studies climate change and anxiety, acknowledges that such discussions with students can be challenging, but says doing so in a thoughtful way can lead to better results and greater change. 


You can read more about the study, titled ‘No Marketing on a Dead Planet: Rethinking Marketing Education to Support a Restoration Economy’, and the potential of marketing for good when it comes to climate change, here. 


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    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
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