We interviewed Dr Florencia Sortheix, visiting professor of the Sustainability Week (previously called the International Week) course Sustainability & Well-being: Developing sustainable behaviours. Dr Sortheix currently works as a post-doctoral researcher at the Swedish School of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Her expertise is on the topics of personal and cultural values and their interrelations with sustainability, and well-being outcomes, such as happiness, life satisfaction, career satisfaction and work engagement. Her research analyses the effects of values on important personal and career outcomes that help increase our understanding of young workers’ personal development.
Dr Sortheix ‘s course focuses on the use of environmental and social psychology to define and understand sustainable behaviour and sustainable organisations. There is a special emphasis on the role of future managers in influencing their own sustainable behaviour, the sustainable behaviour of their employees and the behaviour of their organisations.
How would you define “sustainability”?
The course defines “sustainability” in terms of the triple bottom line: 1) taking care of the environment, e.g., adhering to sustainable ways of production and use of natural resources, 2) contributing to the development and well-being of the community and society, and 3) finding ways of being profitable while considering the impact of the business and the value created for the host society.
How can the Behaviour Change Wheel theory be used to develop sustainable organisations?
The Behaviour Change Wheel is a theoretical framework explaining the most important factors that can influence a person´s behaviour. This science of behaviour change has identified personal, group and structural drivers of behaviours. In this course, we apply this framework to help participants promote their own sustainable behaviours and that of others.
In order to promote sustainable behaviours in individuals and organisations, students learn about personal motivational factors (values, norms, attitudes), social factors (social norms, community connections, social support, leader’s opinions) and structural factors (laws, infrastructure, etc.) that can promote or function as barriers to sustainable change.
How do sustainable lifestyles and organisations relate to well-being?
The path to happiness may also be consistent with sustainable lifestyles. It seems that sustainability is related to basic human needs, values, goals, and activities that contribute to long-lasting happiness. In the course, we examine the concept of sustainable well-being societies. A sustainable well-being society strives to find answers to these challenges in particular. Social and human capital and efficient economic systems and governance models need to be seen as important enablers of the ultimate aim: human well-being.