A report from Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business suggests that interest among U.S. consumers in labels that highlight products’ “sustainable” attributes – and about such “sustainable” attributes more fundamentally – is mixed. Surveying a sample of 500 consumers in the United States about how fashion brands could provide information on Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) efforts, including via labels on their garments and accessories, Gabelli’s Responsible Business Coalition found that just 13.1 percent of consumers indicated that they were “very interested” in using ecolabels to help guide their fashion purchases, while approximately 50 percent of consumers surveyed indicating “some level of interest” in ecolabels, and almost 18 percent indicating that they had “no interest at all.” 

Setting the stage in the report it released this summer, the Responsible Business Coalition (“RBC”) states that companies – including those in the fashion space – are “being called upon to be both innovative and socially innovative to achieve a sustainable, responsible future,” with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, “calling on companies to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies to solve systemic societal and environmental issues such as accelerated climate change, pollution, and inequality.” Such sustainability-centric pushes from regulators and intergovernmental organizations like the UN, paired with research that consistently shows that “a significant increase in the public’s concern for environmental and systemic social issues,” have prompted (at least some) brands to focus on “making their products more sustainable and socially conscious.” 

Against this background, the RBC sought insight into “the most effective means for brands to communicate [their ESG efforts] with consumers” – with an emphasis on the use of labeling. Among the top-line takeaways is that while approximately half of the consumers surveyed indicated “some level of interest” in ecolabels, “a large segment of customers” (almost 50 percent) does not consider the inclusion of ecolabels to be particularly valuable tool when it comes to helping them decide what garments and/or accessories to buy. The RBC notes that interest in fashion ecolabeling is significantly impacted by age, with older consumers being far less interested in ecolabels than are younger consumers, and the most interested consumers falling in the range of 25 to 44 years old. 

Consumers’ level of education also significantly impacts their interest in fashion ecolabels, the RBC determined. “Specifically, the greater the level of education post high school, the greater the interest: Consumers with only a high school degree have the lowest level of interest. By contrast, those with degrees post Bachelor’s (e.g., Master’s, Ph.D., JD, MD, etc.) had the highest level of interest.” Also, the survey results revealed that where consumers live – and their employment status – also impacts their interest in ecolabels. In short: The RBC’s findings indicate that ecolabeling is “most relevant for younger, college educated, employed, urban consumers.” 

Assuming brands were to start making use of labels that identify the ESG elements of their operations and output, nearly half (46 percent) of the consumers surveyed by the RBC indicated that “recyclability” was an issue of importance to them. This was followed by human rights, which was important to 39 percent of consumers, while chemical usage, animal welfare, and material usage were each selected by 33 percent of surveyed consumers. Information regarding a firm’s carbon footprint was important to 31 percent of consumers surveyed, and finally, one in five (20.7 percent) of consumers surveyed showed interest in information about companies’ diversity and inclusion efforts. 

Like its findings regarding consumers’ overall interest in brands adopting ESG-centric labels, one in five consumers (20.9 percent) indicated that “none of these information options would be important in their decision making.” 

When asked to rank the ESG attributes that they believe are the most important for fashion brands to address and inform consumers about, one-third survey participants listed “recyclability” and “human and labor rights” in their “Top 3.” “Material composition” was among the Top 3 for 24 percent of respondents, followed by “animal welfare” and “chemical usage” (23 percent of respondents put them in their Top 3), and carbon footprint (22 percent). Finally, less than 15 percent of consumers surveyed listed “water usage,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “employee education” in their Top 3 priorities for companies. 

Taken as a whole, the RBC states that these results indicate that eco-conscious fashion consumers may, in fact, want easy access to garments’ sustainability credentials, and that their “first priorities are knowing how to recycle their clothes, and that they can be comfortable that people were treated fairly in the creation of their garments.” As for how consumers want to access such information, the majority of survey participants (65 percent) pointed to ecolabels attached directly to the products that they are considering purchasing as ideal, followed by indication via “a website icon or a website filter for sustainable products.” This is distinct from QR codes, for instance, which were the “least desired ecolabeling option” with only one in five consumers indicating interest. 

The RBC’s findings come as a number of big-name brands have opted to cease their use of the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (“MSI”), a suite of tools aimed at helping companies to measure – and make information available to the public about – the environmental impact of their offerings, in the wake of allegations of greenwashing. The controversial Higg MSI is one of many certifications available for brands to calculate and tout the sustainability of their wares in light of rising consumer concern over climate change. A slippery slope, “Certification in general is sort of this false promise, and it is this license to greenwash,”  George Harding-Rolls, a campaign manager at not-for-profit Changing Markets Foundation, told Quartz, noting that “certification programs like the Higg Index” – and other labeling initiatives – often trivialize the amount of change that the fashion industry needs to take to become sustainable.” 

Prior to the most recent round of pushback, Allbirds landed on the receiving end of a false advertising lawsuit last year for allegedly failing to live up to the claims that it makes in its sustainability-centric marketing, including ones about the carbon footprint of its popular footwear, which it measures using a proprietary life cycle assessment tool and the Higg MSI. While plaintiff Patricia Dwyer took issue with the footprint-measuring tool, arguing that its calculations are based “on ‘the most conservative assumption for each calculation, skewing the calculations in its own favor,’ so [Allbirds] can make more significant environmental claims,” a New York federal court tossed out the case this spring.

In examining Allbirds’ environmental impact claims, Judge Cathy Seibel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York stated in April that Dwyer’s “criticism [is] of the tool’s methodology,” not with Allbirds’ statements about its products, thereby, letting the sneaker-maker off the hook.

Shoppers once selected products based simply on price or brand, but now attributes such as whether goods are “sustainable,” “climate-friendly,” “green,” and “eco-friendly” are readily becoming part of the consideration. The latest IAG New Zealand Ipsos poll found, for example, that while climate change is “not the top concern for the public currently, more than half [of survey respondents said that they] worry about it regularly, including about the impacts of climate change that we are already seeing at home and abroad.” At the same time, an IBM survey found that more than 2 in 3 global respondents say that “environmental issues are significantly (very or extremely) important to them personally,” and 84 percent consider “sustainability” to be important when choosing a brand.

Despite prevailing attitudes of consumers to prioritize sustainability and environmental good, research continues to show that few consumers who report positive attitudes toward eco-friendly products actually follow through with their wallets and pay more for “sustainable” goods, which may help to explain the enduring demand for fast fashion and other mass-market goods. 

Green, eco-friendly, climate-friendly products — confused?

With such sustainability concerns in mind, it is hardly surprising that a growing number of brands are flooding the market with very-specifically-marketed goods. For instance, use of the word “green” is applied broadly to almost everything related to benefiting the environment, from production and transportation to architecture and even fashion items. “Eco-friendly” – which is not quite so broad and defines products or practices that do not harm the Earth’s environment – is slapped on everything from beauty goods to dishwashing soaps. Meanwhile, “climate-friendly” is used to define products that reduce damage specifically to the climate. 

All these terms – most of which lack legal definitions and which are used interchangeably by brands – are used in labelling to make us feel good if we buy products claimed to minimize harm to the planet and the environment. Some brands are even moving beyond simply eco-friendly and now seek to claim their products are “climate-neutral.”

Who says it is up to standard?

While companies are increasingly using environmental claims to appeal to consumers, they also attract greater scrutiny. Concerned about allegations of greenwashing – i.e., claiming that a product is “sustainable” when it is not or that it is “greener” than it actually is, many brands are turning to organizations, such as Climate NeutralFoundation Myclimate, and members of the Global Ecolabelling Network, to legitimize their claims, and thereby, avoid large scale public relations scandals. 

For example, the climatop label, as developed by Myclimate, certifies products that generate significantly less greenhouse gas than comparable products. The carbon footprints of the certified products are based on international standards (ISO 14040) and verified by an independent expert. Environmental Choice New Zealand is the official environmental label body that awards certificates and lists environmentally friendly products for green homes or businesses. Products must meet similar standards (ISO 14020 and ISO 14024). Good Environmental Choice Australia is a similar organization.

Third-party certifications may help brands to navigate this space, but as indicated by the widespread pushback against the Higg Index (including a Norwegian Consumer Agency’s move to take issue with H&M’s use of the standard to rate environmental and social sustainability throughout the supply chain, arguing that the index was insufficient to support its environmental claims), such certifications are not without issue.

A willingness to pay more for “sustainable” products

For years, researchers have examined climate-oriented consumption to see if it actually wins consumer support. Reports, such as Nielsen Insights, suggest the majority (73 percent) of people would change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment, and almost half (46 percent) would switch to environmentally friendly products. But these results should be interpreted cautiously. As U.S. psychologist Icek Ajzen wrote, “Actions … are controlled by intentions, but not all intentions are carried out.” 

Despite environmentally-friendly sentiments from large swathes of consumers (and putting inflationary pressures aside), such concern about the environment does not readily translate into the purchase of “green” products. 

Commercial research reveals that 46 percent of consumers are more inclined to buy a product if it is “sustainable” or “eco-friendly,” but nearly 60 percent are unwilling to pay more money for that “sustainable” or “eco-friendly” product. Meanwhile, academic research has consistently identified this gap between purchase intentions and behaviors. Regardless of environmental concern and the positive attitude of customers towards sustainability and green products, it is estimated the market share of green products will reach only 25 percent of store sales by 2021. 

Ultimately, the research that evaluates consumers’ willingness to pay more for green products has been mixed. For example, one study found Spanish consumers were willing to pay 22–37 percent more for green products, but Japanese consumers were only willing to pay 8–22 percent more for green products. 

From procuring raw materials to shipping the final product, almost all steps of the manufacturing and production process of eco-friendly products cost more than traditional products. There are several reasons for this. Sustainable materials cost more to grow and manufacture, reputable third-party certifications add further costs, and using organic materials is more expensive than alternatives, such as mass-produced chemicals. Simple economies of scale also impact price. While the demand for such products remains low, the price remains high. More demand would mean more production and lower unit price costs. As economists say, as price lowers, our willingness and ability to buy an item increase. 

The nudge to change behavior

In a free market economy, it is very difficult to force people to pay more for products. But brands can “nudge” consumers towards more eco-friendly products. Nudge theory is used to understand how people think, make decisions and behave. It can be used to help people improve their thinking and decisions. 

Studies show eco-friendly logos and labels can be used to nudge consumers toward sustainable fashionfood consumption and eco-friendly offerings. So, while not all consumers will pay more for green “climate-friendly” products despite the best of intentions, we can slowly nudge them to make better choices for the planet.

Gary Mortimer is a Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behavior at Queensland University of Technology. (This article was initially published by The Conversation.)

H&M is slated to revisit the language that it uses to advertise supposedly “sustainable” offerings, such as those from its Conscious Collection, following a probe by a Dutch market regulator. In the wake of an investigation by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (“ACM”), which found that H&M has engaged in greenwashing, namely, by making “unclear and insufficiently substantiated sustainability claims,” including its use of terms like “ecodesign” and “conscious,” the Swedish fast fashion giant has agreed to “adjust” or refrain from making unsubstantiated sustainability claims on – or in connection with – its offerings in order to “minimize the risk of misleading practices involving sustainability claims.”

“Consumers should be confident that [companies’] sustainability claims have a basis in fact, or there is a danger they are being misled,” ACM board member Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh said in a statement on Tuesday in connection with the advertising body’s findings. In order to settle the matter, Stockholm-headquartered H&M – which maintains brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce services in the Netherlands – has agreed to adjust or remove sustainability claims that are not substantiated and to avoid making such claims going forward. (An advertising claim generally requires substantiation if it makes an objective assertion about a product or service, either expressly or in an implied manner.)

The ACM says it will monitor H&M’s advertising claims for the next two years. Meanwhile, the ACM opted not the penalize H&M from a monetary perspective, as the company has vowed to donate 500,000 euros to “independent organizations working towards sustainable goals.” Not limited to H&M, the ACM similarly found that French sporting goods retailer Decathlon S.A. made “unclear” advertising claims related to the sustainability of its offerings, as well.

H&M Conscious collection ad

A spokesperson for H&M stated on Tuesday, “We have taken the decision to remove H&M’s Conscious Choice indicator from our online shop worldwide. This work is in progress and will be finalized by the end of October.”

While the ACM’s retail-focused probes and subsequent actions are expected to serve as a wakeup call for brands that are making sustainability-focused claims that they cannot back up (even if those claims are relatively vague in nature), there is likely still room for companies like H&M to continue to advertise their “sustainable” credentials. Reflecting on the ACM’s action, sustainability policy expert Kristen Fanarakis says that it could “put a damper on [H&M’s marketing of] ‘conscious’ collections,” but the wording of the CMA’s release “suggests that H&M could simply use recycled or organic fabrics” in these collections in order to substantiate its existing “conscious” claims and without altering its offerings or the practices that go into manufacturing and/or distributing them.

This may enable H&M to avoid running afoul of the Dutch Advertising Code – and thereby, avoiding sanctions that will likely follow in the event that the ACM uncovers additional unsubstantiated advertising by the company over the course of the next two years, in particular. However, it does not address larger sustainability issues around the decline in average “use” of clothing versus the increase in average apparel consumption (and subsequent discarding), according to Fanarakis. Beyond that, such a solution also does not touch on issues regarding product materials/quality, which represent an integral element in the bigger picture of circularity and sustainability.

And still yet, the impact will almost certainly be limited to products advertised and sold in the Dutch market; as of the time of publication, products on H&M’s U.S. e-commerce site still bore the “Conscious Choice” label.

The ACM’s probe comes amid rising regulatory and private action in the sustainability and ESG marketing realm, with Norway’s consumer watchdog, for example, taking on H&M for its allegedly misleading marketing of its “sustainable” Conscious collection back in 2019. “Based on the Norwegian website of H&M, we found that the information given regarding sustainability was not sufficient, especially given that the Conscious Collection is advertised as a collection with environmental benefits,” the Norwegian Consumer Authority stated at the time. 

More recently, H&M was accused of “taking advantage of consumers’ interest” in sustainability and products that “do not harm the environment” in a false advertising lawsuit filed in the U.S. According to the proposed class action complaint that she filed in a New York federal court in July, Plaintiff Chelsea Commodore claims that in an attempt to target the growing segment of eco-conscious consumers who are willing to pay more for “sustainably-made” garments and accessories, the Swedish fast fashion giant prominently incorporated “‘environmental scorecards’ for its products called ‘Sustainability Profiles’” into the labeling, packaging, and marketing materials for hundreds of its offerings – only to ultimately remove them after being called out for using “falsified information that did not comport with the underlying data.” That case is currently underway. 

Cryptocurrencies use an eye-watering amount of energy. Ethereum, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, uses an estimated 78 terawatt hours of electricity each year, comparable to the power consumption of Chile. Ethereum has announced plans to rid itself of the energy-intensive code that has long muddied crypto’s environmental image, and cut 99 percent of its energy use in the process. Some cryptocurrency commentators suggest that the “merge,” as the makeover has been coined, represents one of the most important events in the history of crypto. Even those uninterested in pixelated cat NFTs and metaverse meetups, most of which depend on Ethereum, will find comfort knowing the carbon equivalent of Hong Kong’s annual emissions will be erased overnight.

Specifically, the merge will result in Ethereum shifting its security mechanism away from what is known as a proof-of-work method towards so-called proof of stake.

Proof of work v. proof of stake

Cryptocurrencies are not governed by banks. For networks using the proof-of-work method, the job of validating transactions is performed by a global network of specialist machines, known as miners. These machines repeatedly guess a random code with the winner receiving transaction fees as well as some newly minted cryptocurrency. Crypto mining works like an ever-expanding game of hungry hippos. The more players that join the mining competition, the harder it becomes for any single player to win anything. These machines consume vast amounts of energy. A single Ethereum transaction is responsible for the same amount of energy used by the average U.S. household in a week.

The proof-of-stake process reduces the need for energy-intensive processing equipment to validate transactions. Cryptocurrency owners instead offer their own coins as a security deposit for the chance to become validators. Ethereum requires users to stake a minimum of 32 Ether tokens. Rather than competing, validators are selected to mine. Do the job well, and the validator is rewarded with even more crypto. But if they validate fraudulent transactions or otherwise defy network rules, they lose their stake. This disincentive is called “slashing.” Proof-of-stake networks are typically assembled around 20 machines, using a comparatively small amount of energy. While being more efficient, proof of stake also reduces network congestion while being cheaper for users.

Advocates for proof of work argue that proof of stake is an unproven alternative. Many fear that the merge might consolidate control of the network in the hands of wealthy investors while weakening its security. However, several networks, including Cardano and TRON, already use a proof-of-stake method. To uphold security, crypto owners in these networks vote for the most qualified validators. 

As it is written into the project’s “development roadmap,” Ethereum’s journey to proof of stake has always been likely. Ethereum’s developers have consistently repeated claims of an imminent shift. But progress has been slow, leading many to believe the merge might never happen.

Resisting the change

Proof-of-work mining has up to now proved very profitable. However, the global energy crisis and crumbling crypto markets have made it far less lucrative than previously. The energy crisis is also prompting regulators to act on energy-intensive industries. This is particularly true in Europe where the transition away from Russian energy dependence is biting hardest. While a proposal to ban proof-of-work mining failed to win EU approval earlier this year, an imminent crackdown looks inevitable

Yet, despite the regulatory risk, the movement to keep Ethereum’s proof-of-work mechanism alive is gathering momentum. Several prominent crypto traders have repeated their support for proof-of-work mechanisms. Alternative versions, called “forks.” that ignore the software update are therefore highly likely. These forks will replicate the existing network, allowing subsets of the community to continue mining

Many exchanges broadly support Ethereum’s proof-of-stake chain. Opensea, the largest marketplace for collectable crypto assets, says it will not list any other kind of Ethereum digital artwork. However, the market is far from conclusive in its support. Large exchanges, such as FTX and Coinbase, have confirmed that they will allow users to trade forked Ethereum tokens. While soaring energy bills could discourage the mining of an unpopular Ethereum fork, miners, in this case, may migrate towards more established proof-of-work networks. This would reduce Ethereum’s carbon footprint, but redistribute crypto’s carbon headache around the network.

What does this mean for Bitcoin?

Responsible for an estimated 70 million tons of CO₂ a year, Bitcoin remains the dirty elephant in the room. Mining the number one cryptocurrency has become so competitive that the cost of entry can be up to $1.8 million. Bitcoin mining is done by commercial mining companies that have to invest heavily in specialist hardware. Bitcoin miners, therefore, tend to be protective of their investments and resist changes to the status quo. For cryptocurrency networks that cannot clean up their act, a global regulatory crackdown on proof-of-work mining is required. Miners are otherwise free to migrate to other chains, or operate from countries with weak environmental regulations, rather than adopt more sustainable practices.

During an energy crisis and climate emergency, Ethereum’s switch to a more efficient technology is good news. If it proves successful, regulators will probably see no reason why Bitcoin and other wasteful cryptocurrencies should not follow suit.

Peter Howson is an Assistant Professor in International Development at Northumbria University in Newcastle. (This article was initially published by The Conversation.)

Weeks after the collapse of his restaurant group in 2019 and the loss of 1,000 jobs, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver announced that he was creating an “ethical” B Corporation – or “B Corp” – a sort of company certification designed to show that its holder gives equal weight to people, planet, and profit. While it has loosely the same aim as the “triple bottom line” of the social enterprise model, B Corp certification is available to for-profit companies that apply to B Lab, a non-global profit organization, and pay for it.

Founded in 2006 by Stanford University alumni and businessmen Jay Coen Gilbert and Bart Houlahan, and former investment banker and Stanford colleague, Andrew Kassoy, B Lab has issued more than 4,000 B Corps certifications to companies to companies in more than 60 countries and across 153 industries and sectors. (These include luxury brands like Richemont-owned Chloé and French resale company Vestiaire Collective, along with Patagonia and Bombas, footwear brands TOMS, Veja and Allbirds, Gap Inc.-owned Athleta, $1 billion Carlyle Group-based BeautyCounter, and Khloe Kardashian’s Good American brand, among others. Through extensive lobbying and promotion, the company, itself – and the business model that it is endorsing – has expanded worldwide through new local offices.

With the number of B Corps opening under the organization’s UK arm, alone, growing at 14 percent a year, is this really a new way of doing business?

People, planet and profit

On the face of it, the certification should indicate a company’s environmental performance, employee relationships, diversity, involvement in the local community, and the impact a company’s product or service has on those it serves. This, in turn, can attract staff and consumers seeking socially responsible businesses, boost an established public company’s stock price, and help investors find companies that balance profit and purpose. 

In the B Lab certification process, businesses must sign a “Declaration of Interdependence,” committing it to using “business as a force for good.” A company must modify its governing bylaws to allow directors to “consider stakeholders besides shareholders in company decision-making,” and must also disclose information on “any sensitive practices, fines, and sanctions related to the company or its partners” Certification is done chiefly over the phone, with around 10 percent selected for more in-depth review, and once certified, companies are required to re-certify every three years.

While B Lab claims that certification balances the interests of shareholders with the interests of laborers, customers, communities, and the environment, it is worth noting that B Corp standards are not legally enforceable. Put another way, neither a company’s board nor the company, itself, are liable for damages if they fail to meet B Corp standards.

B Corp certification is available to any for-profit business around the globe as long as it has been operating for at least 12 months. Certification is initially self-assessed, and does not override the profit-driven focus of the company. A business can fill out the initial B Corp Impact Assessment in a few hours, and complete the certification process in between four and eight weeks, finally paying a certification fee of between $500 and $50,000, depending on revenue.

A cash-generating machine?

B Lab has raised more than $32 million since its launch, and receives much of its funding from major foundations and organizations such as Prudential, Deloitte LLP, the Rockefeller Foundation, and even the U.S. Agency for International Development. In 2017, it received about $6 million in certification fees, and $5.6 million in donations. Its board members primarily come from the business sector, with B Lab paying $6 million in salaries and compensation in 2017.

In the face of this highly cash-generative activity, B Lab’s rhetoric (“lead a movement”) fails to spell out compelling reasons for certification. B Lab claims that traditional corporations cannot be socially responsible, because they open themselves to liability for not following shareholders’ interests. But there is no law that explicitly requires directors of businesses to maximize shareholder revenue to the exclusion of all other corporate objectives. European (EU Directive 2014/95/EU) and UK law already push companies to practice sustainability reporting, and British firms have always had the flexibility to amend their articles of association with shareholder consent to reflect their social responsibilities. Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, for example, changed its Articles of Association to state that it “strives to conduct its activities in a financially, environmentally and socially responsible way.”

So, while B Lab speaks of seeking to meet the “highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose” it has nevertheless certified companies allegedly involved in tax avoidance, those producing cannabis-related productsfor-profit college education companies, corporations working in the prison sector, and those allegedly involved in union busting

What value does it add?

Research into one of the earliest certified B Corps, CouchSurfing.com, shows how certification can be used to pacify angry consumers and attract investors. Certified companies can simply walk away if they feel being a B Corp no longer suits their profit-making aims or strategy, or if it threatens short-term shareholder profitability. Online marketplace Etsy is one that walked away, while others dropped certification after being bought out by larger companies that had other plans. 

There is no directory of former B Corporations that dropped certification or had it removed. The closed nature of a private certifying body that sets and regulates its own standards is problematic, even if well intentioned, and especially so if it seeks to control the process by which certified businesses are held accountable. Certified corporations are as accountable to B Lab as they are to their stakeholders. The lack of full transparency and rigorous vetting in the face of its aggressive expansion indicates that B Lab’s certification should not be seen as a reliable method for certifying corporations to some standard, from the perspective of either the general public, investors or regulators.

Which isn’t to say that the efforts haven’t been worthwhile. B Lab could re-focus and promote new global benchmarks and corporate structures such as low-profit limited liability companies in the United States, or community interest companies and multi-stakeholder co‑operatives in the UK. Rather than striving to become a political-economic actor spending millions on creating and marketing a private company certification offering brand building and expensive workshops, B Lab might consider whether its market-driven certification offers solutions to market-produced problems.

Jamie Oliver is largely transparent in his business values and commitment to social responsibility. He would be better to say “goodbye and big love as ever” to B Lab as he did in his goodbye letter to staff, and focus instead on working with co-operatives, worker and community-owned businesses, and other non-profits that are building a new economy now – without the need to buy a certificate.

Michael O’Regan is a Senior Lecturer in Events & Leisure at Bournemouth University. (This article was initially published by The Conversation.)