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Otago academic talks sustainability in India

Thursday 2 November 2017 9:31pm

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Associate Professor Robert Aitken has recently returned from presenting in a lecture series in Chennai and Bangalore in India.

Associate Professor Robert Aitken believes that halting the rise in human consumption is the defining business challenge of our times.

Dr Aitken, the Head of Otago Business School’s Department of Marketing, has recently returned from presenting in a lecture series in Chennai and Bangalore in India, where he outlined some of the sustainability developments New Zealand is working on, and alternative business models needed to radically reinvent consumption and production systems.

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New Zealand research into sustainability was centre-stage in the lecture series.

He was invited by Education New Zealand to take part in the second season of ENZ’s guest lecture series, featuring academics from New Zealand universities presenting 27 lectures at prestigious Indian institutions across five cities.

The lectures offered New Zealand universities an opportunity to profile New Zealand research excellence in areas of sustainability, as well as explore collaboration opportunities in research and exchange.The University of Otago already has a collaboration with the BSE Institute Ltd in Mumbai, India, for the joint teaching of selected business programmes. Dr Aitken was pleased to develop this collaboration further with the confirmation of a joint Master's of Marketing initiative with the Institute. The Institute is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Dr Aitken said it was positive for New Zealand that its university business research into sustainability was being recognised on the world stage.

“It was good to raise awareness about the sustainability challenges for business, and to cement mutual research interests – we have established capability in this field, and India is known for its innovation.”

"It’s important that sustainability is taught and discussed widely – a substantial body of scientific research, and a great deal of public opinion, suggests that current rates of consumption are unsustainable."

Dr Aitken researches marketing and sustainability, and is currently looking at barriers to sustainable consumption.

“It’s important that sustainability is taught and discussed widely – a substantial body of scientific research, and a great deal of public opinion, suggests that current rates of consumption are unsustainable. If they are not changed, they will have an irreversibly negative impact on the future well-being of society and the long-term survival of the planet.

“We therefore need to work together on development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Dr Aitken, along with colleague, Dr Rakesh Pandey from the Department of Accountancy and Finance, also attended student recruitment fairs in Delhi and Chennai, and consulted on the Education New Zealand’s NZ - India Sustainability Challenge (NZISC) – a competition involving university students from New Zealand and India.