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Developing a Sustainability Index

Project Description

Project reference number: GSBS-2019-119

Are loose organic apples from South Africa a more sustainable choice than plastic wrapped ones from Kent? Is it environmentally better to use an electric hand dryer or paper towels in the toilet considering the whole end to end process? Everyday people make decisions based on partial information with no way of assessing the complete supply chain or of comparing different ethical aspects. The purpose of this research is to develop a way of comparing these choices other lifestyle decisions.
Despite the public scandals around Nike using child labour in the 1980’s and the more recent horsemeat scandal, many organisations do not have transparency throughout their supply chain and hence it is not surprising that the public have even less information about the true costs, inputs and impacts about the goods and services that they use. This project will contribute to making those supply chains more visible through this innovation and it is hoped that the information will inform policies in the future.
Existing research will use focus groups to identify a list of factors that are important to consumers and it is anticipated that this list will inform the design of a survey to get a broader picture about the factors and their priorities. This research will then focus on determining how to combine the different factors/develop a common measurement that can be used to produce a measure on a Sustainability Index. Consumers will then be able to use this to make a more informed decision based on the whole life cost/impact of the product.

You may also wish to include a sentence to request a more detailed proposal to be sent to you as part of the application process or/and you may wish to highlight your membership of a particular research community or group.

Supervisor Research Profiles

Director of Studies: Dr. Karen Fryer
GCU Research Online URL:

2nd Supervisor: Dr Geoff Whittam
GCU Research Online URL:

This project is available as a 3 years full-time PhD study programme with expected start date of 1 October 2019

Candidates are encouraged to contact the research supervisors for the project before applying.

How to Apply

To apply for this project, use the following link to access the online application form, as well as further information on how to apply:

Applicants shortlisted for the PhD project will be contacted for an interview within four weeks from the closing date.

Please send any other enquires regarding your application to:

Funding Notes

Exceptional candidates will be put forward for the scholarship competition. The Scholarship packages available include fully funded studentships and fees only scholarships. The fully funded studentships are worth £19,300 per year for 3 years, subject to satisfactory progress. They cover payment of tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and an annual stipend of £14,800.

For further details on funding see View Website

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