ACCOUNTABILITY OF FCS EDUCATION TO A SUSTAINABILITY ETHOS: FOCUS ON SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION
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1.1 Background of the study
Promoting sustainable consumption and production are important aspects of sustainable development, which depends on achieving long-term economic growth that is consistent with environmental and social needs. Most government policies in this area focus on stemming the environmental impacts of unsustainable industrial production practices, primarily through regulations and taxes (Musfirah, 2011). Promoting sustainable consumption is equally important to limit negative environmental and social externalities as well as to provide markets for sustainable products. In this study, sustainable refers to both the environmental (pollution, waste, resource use) and social (health, welfare) characteristics of products. It focuses on consumption by households and governments. It discusses government tools and instruments (e.g. standards, taxes, subsidies, communications campaigns, education) put in place to encourage sustainable consumption. It also discusses approaches for protecting consumers from misleading information on sustainability in areas such as labelling, advertising and corporate reporting. The trend towards considering the social dimensions of sustainable consumption has led to more attention to how products are produced (Jamilah, Shuhaida & Nurzali, 2015). Consumers are increasingly concerned with not only the polluting or health effects of the consumption of products, but also the impacts which that consumption may have on the factors of production, including workers and resources. As a result, sustainable consumption policies and initiatives are broadening to take into account the effects of processes as well as products and the provision of services as well as goods. Increasingly sophisticated approaches are being used by governments to target policies to consumer groups based on better understanding of social and economic behaviour. Mixes of instruments tend to be more effective in promoting sustainable consumption in certain product groups. The complexity and array of government tools and initiatives directed at sustainable consumption underline the need for more integrated programmes as well as institutionalisation of sustainable consumption in sustainable development strategies (Emanuel, 2010). The American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences’ (AAFCS) brand, “creating healthy and sustainable families,” implies accountability in promoting sustainable consumer behavior. This study compared students majoring in family and consumer sciences (FCS) and its specializations to those majoring in other fields on constructs of perceived consequences of sustainable consumption, ethical obligation, and learning about sustainability as well as of their behavioral intention toward sustainable consumption.