Schumacher College
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Holistic Science

MSc (full and part-time) and PG Certificate programme approved and awarded through Plymouth University

Schumacher College in partnership with the Plymouth University is the first in the world to offer a postgraduate programme in Holistic Science.

Are you deeply concerned about the state of nature and ready for change both as an individual and as an active agent within our culture?

We are seeking highly motivated individuals who want to make a difference in the world.

Join our learning community for this pioneering programme in holistic science which completely re-evaluates our scientific understanding of nature, the ecological crisis we face and our role in widespread ecological, economic and social change.

Application, Admissions and Fees >>

Full programme details >>

PG Certificate programme details >>

Part-time programme details >>

Full-time MSc Fees & Application Process >>

Download the MSc Student Handbook >>

For more information about this programme please email

Click here to read the Holistic Science Diaries >> A blog written by current MSc students to explore Holistic Science.

VIDEO Click to see what Holistic Science students have been doing this term on their ‘Mind in Nature’ Elective

Click here to read the Holistic Science Journal >>, a publication founded and edited by course lecturer Philip Franses and carrying articles by students, teachers and practitioners of Holistic Science.

I teach on the Holistic Science MSc because it is the only course I know of that takes the living of an holistic inquiry for our times seriously. The way students live and work with everyone else involved in creating the environment that is Schumacher, the way the teachers work with each other and the students, the way we pay attention all the time to how the course walks its talk in integrating careful thinking, ethical practice, cultivation of sensibilities of feeling, sense and intuition – this is serious play!
Professor Patricia Shaw

The reason why I have continued to teach at Schumacher College for many years is because I find the conditions at Schumacher very conducive to what I am trying to communicate – a way of seeing that students need to experience in order to understand. The background of Schumacher College, and the quality of the students who are attracted to it, are exceptional in my experience. This is what makes it possible to do the kind of work I do there which requires a shift in perception. I can’t really imagine doing it anywhere else.
the late Henri Bortoft

The MSc in Holistic Science has helped me view the global economy (embedded as it is in our finite earth ecology) as a complex adaptive system. In particular, as I seek to accelerate the rate of innovation and the scale of impact of our work, I am much more relaxed about throwing out new ideas and only pursuing those that seem to attract the energy of colleagues and partners.
Nigel Topping, Chief Innovation Officer, Carbon Disclosure Project

Learn about…..

  • Gaia Theory
  • Complexity and Chaos
  • Systems Thinking
  • Goethean Science
  • Science of Qualities
  • Place-based learning
  • Action Research

Not a single day has gone by which hasn’t been in some way astonishing and where I haven’t learnt something about myself or the wider world around me from either my teachers or my fellow students.
Dave Partridge, Masters student 2012

It is pretty difficult to sum up what I learned in the MSc in a few sentences. The very short answer is that I better learned how the world works. How the dynamics of life in our three-dimensional reality work. I learned to see myself as embedded in a web of life that is always placed-based. I shifted my focus from things to relationships. And I will for the rest of my life be a student of these dynamics in order to live and design in harmony with them instead of opposition.
Terry Irwin, Head of School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University

The MSc certainly opened my eyes to new ways of doing business in a complex world. Both the formal teachings and the tremendous networking potential of the College have helped me in forging a professional life that I feel reflects my ideals.
Sophia Van Ruth, co-founder Urban Edibles

For me doing the MSc was definitely one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in my life. Now that I am teaching at business schools, I can really now understand the benefits of having had the immersive experience that Schumacher brings. I can see how there is a huge difference between people who understand concepts such as complexity just in terms of thinking, or in their heads, and from students who are able to know the world from a much more profound and deeper perspective. This can only really be acquired from the way in which these subjects are not just taught, but lived and experienced at Schumacher College.
Simon Robinson, business educator and consultant

During my MSc in Holistic Science I learned a comprehensive qualitative approach to science that binds natural and cultural phenomena. It was a unique experience that transformed my own inner way of relating to complex circumstances and empowered me with the tools necessary to develop the way of life I’ve always dreamed of.
Sebastian Eslea Burch, founder of Gaia y Sofia

What I learnt and experienced from the MSc is that everything is ever changing. Working with the concepts of holistic science I experienced living with complexity and change as a way of life rather than as a stage I had to survive. For me, the gift of holistic science was to learn to appreciate the inherent potential in all situations. This has taught me to more effectively think, act and live with the tension of transitions through multidisciplinary approaches.
Anne Solgaard, Green Economy for UNEP/GRID-Arendal

I learnt how to appreciate the wholess of nature and life. I learnt how to connect with that wholeness and access knowledge through all my senses (my mind, my intuition, my feelings) to make decisions (personal and professional) that are in harmony with this unity. All of this has helped me be more effective at work and apply an integral approach to everything I do. It profoundly changed me and the way I live life and share it with others.
Luzette Jaimes, Operations Manager for Ashoka: Innovators for the Public in the Arab World

Holistic Science

Information has been available for many years on issues such as the state of biodiversity, climate and global financial sustainability. Yet this alone has failed to bring about the change we need.

Experts have now agreed that information is not enough to achieve a more sustainable future. What we need at this time in history is a more emotionally-based intelligence about the state of the earth, to combine with our advanced intellectual understanding.

Holistic Science is a different way of looking at the issues we face. It combines a rigorous investigation of conventional scientific thought with cutting-edge experiential, intuitive and group learning processes to bring about a more participatory understanding of the natural world and our role within it.

From this position of participation and engagement with nature we become empowered and inspired to act in the interests of ourselves and the wider world.

Schumacher College has been the pioneering force of Holistic Science for 20 years. It has brought together the radical thinkers, practitioners and activists around the world whose ideas approach centre-stage as we collectively begin to accept the need for radical rethinking of our ecological, social and economic systems.

Holistic Science is a new and emerging science of systems and wholes, qualities and values. It allows us to look at the social, economic and ecological issues of the 21st Century in a new light. It helps us to come to understandings that go beyond the limits of our current scientific paradigm.

Why Schumacher College?

Be part of a learning community in the beautiful and historic surrounds of Schumacher College on the Dartington Hall Estate in Devon.

Learn in small groups with the leading thinkers and pioneers of our day.

Experience different ways of learning that engage and challenge you to reconsider your relationship with nature and society, and clarify your role in the wider world.

Immerse yourself in the richness and diversity of like-minded students coming from across the globe for our short-course, postgraduate and vocational trainings.

This is not just an intellectual enquiry. It’s a really embodied, participatory approach to nature which can help to foster a deep sense of belonging
Stephan Harding, Resident Ecologist and Head of Holistic Science, Schumacher College.

Our teachers include:

Visiting teachers will be drawn from Schumacher College associates who include Craig Holdrege, Fritjof Capra, Jane Goodall, Vandana Shiva, David Orr, James Lovelock, Deepak Chopra, Patch Adams, Margaret Wheatley, Wolfgang Sachs, Jonathon Porritt, Janine Benyus and many other key thinkers and activists.

Schumacher College believes in a radical and rigorous approach to learning that develops the whole person through intellect, emotion, ethics and practice. We value trans-disciplinary approaches, different ways of knowing and creative forms of expression.

The course is structured as an inquiry in itself, which draws its inspiration from nature. Students discover their own path through the learning journey which includes reflective enquiry, participatory learning methods and small-group learning experiences in addition to more conventional ways of learning.

Become immersed in a transformative postgraduate programme that is geared towards both external and inner transition.

Who is this course for?

Are you deeply concerned about the state of the natural world?

Are you hoping to make a difference with your life and work?

Are you willing to experiment in a group learning process that makes you part of something bigger than yourself as an individual?

The primary qualification we are looking for in our students is a strong interest in nature, how it evolves and self-organises and what we as individuals, organisations and cultures can learn from it in our quest for a sustainable future.

We welcome people from all backgrounds, cultures and of any age – whether you are currently employed, unemployed, a student or retired. The diversity of our student group is a rich part of how we learn and is a reflection of the diversity of nature itself.

Studying at Schumacher College

What will you learn?

As part of this programme you will also carry out an independent research project in which you can apply holistic science to your own area of interest.

This is an unparalleled opportunity to undertake high level research outside the usual constraints of academic norms. Projects can be presented as personal narrative, film, artwork, poetry or any other creative endeavor, alongside more conventional modes of delivery.

Where you will go?

Graduates from this programme will have the skills and knowledge to work for sustainable change in the public, private and NGO sectors or to set up their own projects or organisations that will be a part of the transition to a more holistic understanding and appreciation of the world.

Previous students have gone into areas such as ecological business consulting, educational projects and academia, healthcare, agriculture, media and film-making, NGOs and working with indigenous people.

MSc course programme

Click here to go straight to full programme details

Click here to go to PG Certificate programme details

Click here to go to part-time programme details


Click here for details of the full-time MSc Fees & Application Process >>

Brian Goodwin (25 March 1931 – 15 July 2009)

Brian Goodwin, co-founder of our postgraduate programme in Holistic Science, was a Canadian mathematician and biologist, a Professor Emeritus at the Open University and a key founder of the field of theoretical biology. He made key contributions to the foundations of biomathematics, complex systems and generative models in developmental biology. He was one of the prominent scientists who suggested that a reductionist view of nature will fail to explain complex features.

The video below is of a special tribute to Brian recorded on 15 October 2013

Speakers include

To mark the great impact of his work on broadening and deepening the subject of biology, the book The Intuitive Way of Knowing: A Tribute to Brian Goodwin was published by Floris Books.

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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