This guide is meant as a starting point. Will you continue to research this direction yourself and explore SDG integration at other higher education institutions? Or where is your journey going?
Yes, I definitely want to continue researching in this direction. In fact, the topic of my dissertation was initially not specifically related to sustainability. Thanks to the examination of sustainable development in the context of my first study, I have now redefined my dissertation project once again and would like to use my dissertation project as a whole to examine what the marketing discipline and, in particular, the education of future marketing managers can contribute to achieving our ambitious goal of a sustainable society by 2030.
And finally, a personal question: of course you can't always behave correctly in every situation, but can you give us an example of how your behaviour has changed towards sustainability? Have you become a change agent and were you able to get something going / motivate others?
One respondent I interviewed as part of my study summed it up quite well: assuming you haven't lived a particularly sustainable lifestyle before, changing your behaviour to a more sustainable lifestyle is a bit like signing up for a gym membership. If exercise wasn't exactly part of my agenda before, I might start out highly motivated to go to the gym every day and work out. I might keep this up for a few days or weeks, then be completely exhausted and suddenly fall back into my old pattern and not go at all. Breaking through one's own behavioural patterns is an incredibly lengthy process and, especially in terms of sustainability, it is often necessary to forego one or two conveniences. That's why, for me, small steps are the way to the goal: I've reduced my meat consumption enormously and when I do eat meat, I only buy it directly from the farmer. And for my breakfast egg, I now keep chickens in my garden. In addition to the regional origin of the products, I generally pay more attention when cooking so that I only prepare as much as I can eat, in order to throw away as little as possible. For short distances, I have traded the car for the bicycle or walking. For longer distances, I try to use public transportation where possible, but since I live in a relatively rural area, I can't completely do without the luxury of my own car. Since social sustainability is also an important pillar alongside environmental sustainability, and access to education is even defined as an SDG, I've also become aware that I've been making a teeny-tiny contribution to the topic of sustainability for quite some time now thanks to my volunteer work as a tutor.
It is precisely this diversity of sustainability that I try to illuminate in conversations with those around me. My research and theoretical examination of the topic provide me with more and more arguments and knowledge about sustainability, which I can then discuss with family, friends or colleagues. This is another way to make a contribution by sensitising others to the topic. Particularly in discussions, however, one often becomes aware of the limits of one's own actions. During a vacation in Spain (I can't completely do without flying yet either), I noticed that there is no deposit system for plastic bottles like there is in Germany and that the topic of waste separation is practically non-existent in private households. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about this topic to make a concrete recommendation for action, but even if I had a suggestion, who should I call in the Spanish government? (I'm deliberately exaggerating here, of course.) The next goal I have therefore set myself is to incorporate the topic of sustainability even more strongly into my work environment. I'm already doing this quite consciously as part of my doctorate.
In summary, I would not see myself as a change agent yet. But I am convinced that I am well on the way. With my doctorate, my goal is to go into teaching one day. Until then, I would like to acquire more expertise in the field of sustainability marketing, which I can then pass on to future students and hopefully train them to become change agents for sustainable development.
*Hübscher, C.; Hensel-Börner, S. und J. Henseler (2021): Social marketing and higher education: partnering to achieve sustainable development goals, in: Journal of Social Marketing, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/JSOCM-10-2020-0214