The role of social media sustainability influencers - thesis topic of Gara, batch 15 Lund track student

March 8, 2021

During this second semester, 2nd year MESPOM students are working on their thesis research. This week, Gara, batch 15 Lund-track, told us about her extremely relevant and novel thesis topic!

Hi! My name is Gara and this is my MESPOM story.

Born and raised between the Americas and Europe, I always lacked a sense of belonging. This, together with my passion for the natural environment, left me jumping between countries and projects in an endless search; from the UK, where I studied Ecology and Conservation Biology, to Madagascar, where I had my first experience in research. From Indonesia to Peru, from Greece to Ecuador, and back to Europe again.

At 23, I felt frustrated with the trend I had seen thus far: science is key, but without adequate management and policy, it serves for nothing. So, I applied to MESPOM, for I wanted to understand how change truly happens, and to be part of making sustainability the norm rather than the exception.

Two years later, I am at the end of my MESPOM experience halfway through my thesis research. I would like to say I had always dreamt of my thesis topic, but that would most definitely be a lie. I was confused about what to choose, and sought guidance from my current supervisor, Oksana Mont, whose experience in consumption governance seemed relevant. That is how my topic came about: the role of social media sustainability influencers (a bit of a mouthful, I know!).

Let me briefly tell you what that involves, and why it is so important. Social media is becoming increasingly present in people’s everyday lives, especially after the spread of Covid-19, influencing people’s choices and behaviours. Sustainability influencers are a subset of influencers who focus on inspiring followers to lead more sustainable lifestyles and take greener choices (supposedly!). Their potential in normalizing sustainability is profound, but so far unmeasured.

The funny thing is that we know close to nothing about who these people are, how they define sustainability, the types of messages they spread, how they work, the challenges they face, etc. Through interviews with sustainability influencers all around Sweden, these are the type of questions I am trying to answer. A quantitative researcher at heart, this is a new type of challenge for me, but a refreshing one. Perhaps this is my first step in uncovering the most effective ways of creating long-lasting trends that benefit the Earth and society, rather than just individuals.

As for my future, who knows what it holds? I am currently juggling with the idea of a PhD or staying in research. To be honest, nothing is certain, but I am not afraid because MESPOM has prepared me with the skills and the contacts for whatever awaits in the future.

And most importantly, in MESPOM I have found my sense of belonging. I have found my community, my family.