Curriculum development for business and society: marketing, design and creativity – underpinned by sustainability

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Climate change scientists warn that only nine-years are left to reverse the consequences of exacerbated industrialisation and human activity. Global governance and businesses have been slow to respond, focusing on profit generation, despite increased concern for sustainability in mainstream markets. Post recovery from the Covid-19 global pandemic focuses on resuming previous ‘normal’ economic activity, despite this offering an opportunity to repurpose commerce; especially as many environmentalists’ asset that the pandemic is a consequence of abusing ecosystems. At this cornerstone of reverting back to an economic system some believe is no longer fit for purpose, and that may bring about the fall of humanity, the need for embedding sustainability firmly into the curriculum is vastly important. One way we introduce sustainability at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) to marketing students is in the level one module: Marketing, Design and Creativity (MD&C). This is fitting, as GCU is the University for the Common Good and teaching and research is underpinned by the UN SDG’s. As one of the first modules that students will experience at GCU, the purpose of the module is to recognise that:

* The role of sustainability fitting alongside other consumer behaviours and lifestyles
* The advantages of sustainability as adding value to a business
* The role of creativity in developing concepts underpinned by sustainability
* Marketing key sustainability concepts succinctly through visual media

This MD&C module is partnered by the Scottish Innovation Enterprise (SIE) and delivered weekly through a two-hour lecture and two-hour workshop with a graphic designer. In week 2 and 3 lectures, students’ participant in SIE workshops; the first is ‘Future Ready’ which covers how innovation has progressed societal and industry change and how to identity social triggers than indicate new change. This active workshop examines four consumption contexts: food; fashion; transport; and retail. Working in groups of four, students select a context and collaborate on recognising change within those consumption contexts along with the key sustainability issues. This underpins preparation for the following workshop: ‘Creating Ideas With Impact’. Taking part in those workshops enables students to apply for the SIE bronze and silver innovation awards, adding value to their CV. Attaining the gold award requires some additional work.

For assessment, students are tasked with developing a sustainable business concept that responds to the context group they have chosen, through a marketing brochure (constructed using InDesign) and a video promoting their concept. To do this, they have to understand how the context is impacted by sustainability, how consumers navigate the marketplace and what key issues would encourage consumers to engage with their sustainable concept. This is where the graphic designer adds value to the module, understanding the visual connections, such as the font, colours, images and the layout that are contained in the brochure and video. This also responds to marketing industry requirements for graduates to be able to use InDesign to present their ideas. Student evaluations reveal that they enjoy the topicality of this module, as well as the input from SIE and graphic design.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2021
Event2021 Academy of Marketing Annual Conference: Reframing Marketing Priorities Online - Online
Duration: 5 Jul 20217 Jul 2021 (Link to Conference website)


Conference2021 Academy of Marketing Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleAM2021
Internet address


  • marketing
  • sustainability
  • society


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