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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.

Supervisor Research Profiles


Director of Studies: Dr. Karen Fryer
GCU Research Online URL: http://researchonline.gcu.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/karen-fryer(9f37d406-297b-48e2-853d-ae3f2ac0965d).html

2nd Supervisor: Dr Geoff Whittam
GCU Research Online URL: http://researchonline.gcu.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/geoffrey-whittam(80983eed-417d-4ada-83c2-cded171d975a).html

How to apply

The project is available as a 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time PhD study programme with an expected start date of the 1st October 2020.

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

To apply for this project, use the following link to access the online application form, as well as further information on how to apply: https://www.gcu.ac.uk/research/postgraduateresearchstudy/applicationprocess/.

Please send any other enquiries regarding your application to


Funding Notes

Funding notes

Applicants are expected to find external funding sources to cover the tuition fees and living expenses.Alumni and International students new to GCU who are self-funding are eligible for fee discounts. See more of fees and funding. View Website

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