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Confluence of Cultures: Understanding the Past, Enriching the Future

Photo: Azul Thome

May 9 – 13, 2011

Teachers: Vandana Shiva, Mark Tully, Krishna Dutta, William Radice, Satish Kumar

This course is open for bookings.

Tagore was a legendary Indian poet, spiritual teacher, artist, social activist and writer. The cross fertilisation between Indian and Western philosophy and culture has contributed hugely to experimentation in holistic rural living. This course will explore the ideas and experiences of Tagore and his direct influence on Dartington, the home of Schumacher College.

The teachers on this course will address different aspects of Tagore’s rich and diverse legacy. The group will reflect on relevance of Tagore’s ideas today, in a time when it is more vital than ever that we learn to live harmoniously with nature and each other.

How can East and West learn from and enrich each other, whilst maintaining their own cultural identity?

How much do our societies need to change to adapt to different circumstances and how much should we look to ancient wisdom and practices for guidance?

Course detail

Vandana Shiva will focus on Tagore and the land, reflecting on his approach to agriculture and how this can inform current debates on organic methods, biotechnology and the industrialisation of food production systems.

Mark Tully will reflect on Tagore’s vision of keeping the idea of Indian nationalism within the context of “Universal Values”. How is that vision relevant for India in particular and for the world in general? What did Tagore mean by Universal Values?

Krishna Dutta will share her knowledge of Tagore’s life and writing, his relationship with the Elmhirsts and how it influenced their work at Dartington.

William Radice will talk about Tagore the poet and how his understanding of the human condition can guide us in these challenging times.

Satish Kumar will pull together the different themes to reflect on how Tagore’s work and life embodied Eastern and Western values and why it has been such an ongoing inspiration in his own work for a better world.


Vandana Shiva is an Indian physicist, philosopher, and tireless environmental activist. She was involved in the women’s campaign against the destruction of the Himalayan forests, the famous Chipko movement, and now works in the movement to protect biodiversity and prevent the patenting of seeds in India. In 1993, she won the Alternative Nobel Prize (the Right Livelihood Award). In 1984, she founded Navdanya, an organisation which works for organic farming methods, biodiversity, the Earth and India’s small farmers. Vandana spent time at Shantiniketan and was influenced by Tagore’s approach to land use and agriculture.

Mark Tully was the BBC’s India correspondent for nearly 30 years, and is now a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in Delhi. He has written many books about India and about religion, including No Full Stops in India and Four Faces: A Journey in Search of Jesus the Divine. He regularly presents BBC Radio 4’s Something Understood.

Krishna Dutta is the editor, with Andrew Robinson, of Rabindranath Tagore: An Anthology and of his selected letters. Together they have also written the highly acclaimed biography Rabindranath Tagore: the Myriad-Minded Man and translated his play The Post Office.

William Radice is a poet and Bengali scholar who has translated many of Tagore’s poems and short stories. He lectures in Bengali language and literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He is currently working on a new translation of Tagore’s Gitanjali.

Satish Kumar is editor of Resurgence magazine and was one of the founders of Schumacher College. He started life as a Jain monk and then walked from India to America on an 8,000 mile peace pilgrimage. He remains as Visiting Fellow at Schumacher College and is overseeing the Tagore Festival at Dartington which immediately precedes this course.

The Tagore Festival at Dartington

This course is run in association with the Tagore Festival 2011.

For more information:

Course Fees

All course fees include accommodation, food, field trips and all teaching sessions.

£50 discount is available for this short course for Tagore Festival ticket holders. Quote TAGFES at point of booking.

For further information about Schumacher College please see About the College


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To provisionally reserve a place for 5 days, email us your contact details and the name of the course

We will hold the place for five working days for reservations – three weeks before a course or earlier. After five days we will automatically offer your place to someone else if we have not received your application.

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Schumacher College is part of the Dartington Hall Trust, a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and as a charity (company no. 1485560, charity no. 279756). Registered office: The Elmhirst Centre, Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EL, United Kingdom