Cooking up a Course: Teaching sustainable marketing at MBA


  • Ynte K. van Dam Wageningen University



sustainable marketing, education, MBA


Aim: To explore how a critical course on mainstream marketing and business theory can shift the perception of sustainability as an extrinsic goal to sustainability as an intrinsic boundary condition to business.

Design/Method: An introductory course is designed in which a system approach is introduced by assessing the purported marketing purposes of the firm relative to an increasing range of manifest and latent stakeholders. Key elements of the course are received elements of MBA programs to illustrate that education for sustainability does not mean teaching new topics, but means a new way to teach old topics.

Finding: It is shown that the course meets the requirements and recommendations that were derived from theory on teaching sustainability in higher education. Though the topics and theories covered are central to a mainstream MBA program, the way they are presented and questioned promotes learning critical thinking by doing.

The long term effects of this approach cannot yet be tested, and require longitudinal research among participants and teachers of the consecutive courses

Originality: The course aims at training critical reflection of established theories from a sustainability perspective. Being presented as the foundation of an MBA program sustainability is offered as a boundary condition for corporate management.


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