Sustainability in the University Curriculum: Teaching Introductory Economics

Publication Date


Document Type

Book Chapter


Economics is the study of human behavior in relation to a resource-constrained world. The discipline is a behavioral science. From this perspective, economics incorporates the evaluation of both individual and societal behavior within the context of prevailing cultural values to assess resource use, constraints and sustainability relative to anthropomorphic or human-focused resource utilization. However, many cultural values can be described as legacy, defined as an inheritance from a previous generation. Additionally and related, unless there is a continuous assessment and reassessment of and between social actions and societal frameworks, there can be a delay in the needed responsiveness to modify cultural values. The latter statement addresses the need for promoting awareness of the parameters that define sustainable consumption. This paper explores one example of how increasing awareness of the assumptions embedded within supply and demand, as overtly visible in “fair” market prices, can increase awareness of the inherent responsibility of consumption decisions. Using a replicable life cycle cost assessment assignment, the author provides a rationale and outcome for the incorporation of a sustainability project in the teaching of introductory economics.

Original Citation

Venkatesan, M. (2016). Sustainability in the University Curriculum: Teaching Introductory Economics. In W.L. Filho & P. Pace (Eds.), Teaching Education for Sustainable Development at University Level. (pp. 35-48). Switzerland: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-32928-4_3