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EFF SOURCE Fashion business success without compromise

10 August 2016

Global College Matrix: Integrating Ethics & Sustainability

Contributor Ethical Fashion Forum

ESMOD students


The SOURCE Intelligence team has compiled research into 50 leading colleges and universities from across the globe - those pioneering to integrate social and environmental sustainability into fashion education. Image: ESMOD Berlin students


Four years have passed since SOURCE published its College & University Curriculum mapping in 2012. Like its predecessor this 2016 updated mapping covers global fashion design courses which either focus on or include sustainability as part of the curriculum. It now looks at 70 courses in over 50 institutions ranging from short courses and graduate certificates to Master’s degrees.

This reflects an increase in offerings from universities and colleges on sustainability as part of fashion education. The 2016 matrix includes new courses with a core focus on sustainability such as the Msc Ethics in Fashion (Communication, Consumerism and Sustainability) offered by Heriot Watt University in Scotland as well as modules on ethics and sustainability added from courses in countries across the world from Latvia and Iceland to South Africa and India. Nordic countries in particular are leading the way in the development of new courses on fashion and sustainability.

There still appears to be little offer in the way of courses on sustainability in Asia, Africa and South America, regions where the majority of the world’s clothes are made. Whilst it is possible that sustainability is embedded in the courses they do offer in all aspects of fashion design and business rather than being separate modules or courses, the lack of communication on their websites and in their prospectuses around sustainability as part of fashion education perhaps reflects the lack of emphasis on it. On a more positive note, there are academics such as Professor Ajit Kumar Khare at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in India whose research interests include green and sustainable manufacturing and entrants to the 2015 EcoChic Design Award came from over 40 universities and colleges across Asia.

The courses vary in their content but some key themes around how academic institutions are looking at sustainability in fashion are emerging. These include innovation and technology, innovation in business strategies and collaboration and the formation of networks. Chelsea College of Arts give Sustainable Practice Awards to students on their BA Textile Design course who demonstrate progressive thinking and innovative solutions in textile design; at Amsterdam Fashion Institute, students are challenged to rethink the traditional supply chain and address the product lifecycle with the aim of reducing their environmental footprint and the SuRe Sustainability Research network at Massey University in New Zealand links art and design researchers with business, government and sustainability organisations.

Sign in below with your SOURCE member login to read the full report and access the college matrix with details on the different courses offered, key tutors at each institution and links for further information.

Many thanks to researcher and writer, Joanna Bax, for her contributions to this report and matrix.

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