Net Zero Fund supporting students to make a difference

La Trobe’s Net Zero program is so much more than LED lights and solar panels. Through the program’s Net Zero Fund, launched in 2020, students from La Trobe’s Sustainable Management and Marketing subject were recently given an opportunity to put their own spin on how we can all make ‘change for life’.

With support from the Net Zero Fund, Dr Malliga Marimuthu, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at La Trobe University, came up with a creative and unique project for students to participate in, called “Change 4 Life – Sustainable Development Goals”.

“The objective of the social marketing campaign was to train students to influence action and change behaviour of society towards the agenda of United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Students explored SDG topics such as responsible consumption and production, gender equality and decent work and economic growth, and overall we had three campaigns developed with six students involved,” Dr Marimuthu said.

Not only did the project help students to put their social marketing skills into action, it also encouraged greater understanding of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals SDGs, for which La Trobe University recently ranked fourth in the world for overall contribution to the SDG’s in the latest Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.

“The project was a great chance to raise my concerns and find a common voice in society. Some issues may stay and be implicitly accepted in society, so drawing people’s attention to it can help to make changes,” said Minh Phuong Pham, whose project looked into the SDG theme of decent work and economic growth.

Andrew Jennings, Director Carbon Neutral Strategy for La Trobe University, said it was great to see the Net Zero Fund backing student initiatives like this – in addition to the research and scholarships it supports – and congratulated the students involved.

“Congratulations to all the students who entered the competition. It was fantastic to see a group of passionate students pushing forward the Net Zero principals in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and to see how they crafted their social marketing campaigns to help educate and inform our communities,” he said.

The Net Zero Fund was established in 2020 as part of La Trobe’s Net Zero program, to provide support to La Trobe University staff, students and stakeholders through research, scholarships and student initiatives.

Lawrence & Hanson | Specialised Lighting Solutions (SLS) and its global parent Sonepar provided $500,000 towards the fund. Specialised Lighting Solutions were also La Trobe’s partner for its LED – Stage 1 project, supplying and installing over 25,000 LED light fittings across all La Trobe campuses.

Project summaries

Project 1 - “Crisis Sustainability” by Yu Ren Eugene Tan
Sustainable Development Goal 12:
Responsible consumption and production

The campaign aimed to educate viewers on the importance of recycling our materials at home in a Covid-19 new-normal. With consumption of alcohol increasing during the pandemic, so too did its waste products, like plastic cups, glass bottles, aluminium cans and paper cups. This social marketing campaign used video to educate viewers on the importance of recycling waste at home.

Project 2 - “Smash the Glass” by Chandaly Mao, Mary Becos & Abraham Pulimoottil John
Sustainable Development Goal 5:
Gender Equality

This social marketing project analysed gender inequity in wages by reflecting on the evolution of male-female pay disparities in various parts of the world, mainly focusing on the Australian business sector and breaking gaps in understanding trends.

The campaign featured women calling for equal pay regardless of their positions and gave them a platform to have their concerns heard and discussed among employers and policymakers.

Project 3- “Diploma Disease” by Minh Phuong Pham & Melika Khan Bashi
Sustainable Development Goal 8:
Decent work and economic growth

Diploma disease refers to two behaviours: pursuing qualifications without career orientation and assessing candidates solely based on the level of degrees. This campaign aimed to raise public awareness about effective investment in education and the weakness of recruitment system that creates inequality among different academic backgrounds.

Read more about each of the social marketing campaigns here or online.