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Newsletter June 2011: What are the credible alternatives to the existing financial system?

Photo: Steve Marshall

What are the credible alternatives to the existing financial system?

Governments across the globe have gone to enormous lengths to prop up failing financial institutions on the understanding that these interventions will bring about stability and end the threat of further financial collapse. But is the economic crisis really over? Is this ‘business as usual’ mentality destined to produce more of the same instability?

In July the College brings together some of the leading voices in sustainable economics including Ann Pettifor, Hazel Henderson, Tessa Tennant, Julie Richardson and Nathalie Buschor. The course will cover macroeconomics as well as the experiences of those working with money and investments on a daily basis. The course will uncover the myths and flaws that surround the current financial system, before drawing on a wide range of ideas and experience to explore how a new economic dawn could really lead to a fairer and more robust system that supports and serves the interests of communities and ecosystems.

For details of the course: Rethinking Finance: Good Servant, Bad Master? July 11 – 15, 2011 with Ann Pettifor, Hazel Henderson (by videolink), Tessa Tennant, Nathalie Buschor, and Julie Richardson, click here.

Reminder: The College is still open to applications from prospective candidates for either the new MA in Economics for Transition, or the MSc in Holistic Science

Celebrating the Centenary of EF Schumacher at The Hay Literary Festival

Charlie McConnell, Schumacher College Director, spoke at the Hay Literary Festival this month to an audience of over 450, along with Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the UK Green Party and Andrew Simms Fellow of the New Economics Foundation. His talk concerned EF Schumacher’s seminal book Small is Beautiful and it’s relevance today as part of a series of events taking place across the UK and at Schumacher College, celebrating the centenary of Schumacher.

Charlie’s talk focussed upon Schumacher’s essays on the use of land, education, international development and socialism. Through this body of work we see Schumacher the ecologist and powerful critic of western approaches to mono-agriculture, its dependency upon high input costs such as oil and fertilisers and the destruction to biodiversity. In his essays on education and international development work, we see Schumacher’s strong passion for learning by doing and for whole person learning. This approach has been adopted widely by organisations such as the international development charity Practical Action, Schumacher College and by thousands of development workers working at the grassroots across the world.

Of particular relevance to the College’s forthcoming programme in economics is Schumacher’s work surrounding public ownership and rational planning. Charlie notes: “Schumacher’s approach was one where the best of top down planning meets the best of bottom up within companies and communities, with a preference for smaller forms of social ownership and co-operative enterprise.”

To read more about E.F. Schumacher in the centenary year visit

Photograph by Daniel Thistlethwaite

David Orr pioneer of The Oberlin Project, shares his ideas and practice at Schumacher College

Human history has entered “the long emergency” driven by climate destabilisation, the end of cheap fossil fuels, economic uncertainty, inequality, and increasing political turmoil.

Schumacher College is proud to host David Orr’s forthcoming course which looks at what communities can and are doing to create maximum resilience and sustainability in a time of rapid change and instability. The course will examine these responses using a range of live examples including The Oberlin Project The heart of the Oberlin Project is the redevelopment of a 13-acre block designed to catalyse the renewal of the downtown area and initiate a process leading to a prosperous post-fossil fuel powered economy, while improving its facilities and continuing one of the most important educational experiments in the United States. To read more of this article, click here.

David is joined by Stephan Mayer and Transition Town’s Rob Hopkins in an exploration of urgent collaborative responses to climate change, food security and economics in the course: The Road Ahead: Building Community in the Long Emergency June 27 – July 2, 2011. For more details click here.

To listen to an interview with David Orr about The Oberlin Project with Sustainable Industries Magazine, click here.

You might also like to know that Bill McKibben, founder of is teaching at Schumacher in October. Click here for more details.

Photograph by Daniel Thistlethwaite

Jeddah Mali asks What Makes Our World Work?

Schumacher College is one of the few places where serious students of new scientific research can exchange ideas with those investigating human spirituality and our place in the universe. Building on this tradition, we are delighted to welcome Jeddah Mali to our course programme, reflecting on these two paths to wisdom and what we can learn from them that will guide us through the challenging times we live in.

Jeddah is a member of the steering committee of the Global Coherence Initiative (GCI), a science-based research project that studies energy fields at both the individual and global level. Last week, GCI was officially launched in the UK. It is associated with the Institute for HearthMath which has developed proven techniques and technologies for measuring and influencing heart-rate variability which has been shown to be closely related to people’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Anyone who studied with the late Brian Goodwin will recognise this emphasis on the importance of heart rate variability – Brian always said that in a healthy person the heart dances, it never marches!

Through Jeddah’s wisdom and her engaging teaching style, she will bring together the research that has gone into studying coherence with insights from the spiritual traditions she has spent years immersed in to help participants develop their own path to wisdom and fulfilment. It’s a powerful combination of approaches and one which fits well into the College’s longstanding focus on holistic science and consciousness.

Click here for course details

What should our built environment be like if it is to be genuinely sustainable?

Three experts in the field address this complex issue within sustainable building design on the course: Biomimicry and Buildings: Innovation and Sustainability in Architecture. Places are still available on this course with world renowned architect and biomimicry specialist Michael Pawlyn who co-designed the Eden project’s famous biomes. Robert Somerville and Toni Spencer join Michael on what promises to be a fascinating and engaging exploration of sustainable approaches to architecture that incorporate both the modern and the traditional. Click here for more details

Jonathan Rae, Head of Vocations and Enterprise at Schumacher College, writes more about sustainable architecture and nature in the Dartington Blog, click here to read more.

Photograph by Daniel Thistlethwaite

New events announced

Summer Taster Days in Sustainable Horticulture

We know that many people want to come and visit our gardens –those from the local community and further afield. Therefore we have prepared two taster days in July (7th & 8th) where you can enjoy tours, practical sessions and generally explore our edible ecosystem.

These day events will be a wonderful way of introducing yourself to this practical aspect of our work and form an excellent taster experience for the Certificate in Sustainable Horticulture run in collaboration with Duchy College.
For more information about our informative and fun Taster Days in Sustainable Horticulture, click here.

Photograph by Daniel Thistlethwaite

Sustainable Health Care: The Challenges and Opportunities

A more sustainable health care will offer people the choices and the ability to take charge of their own health. However, there are challenges to face, not least on how to assure that different approaches are as reliable, effective and safe as possible.

This course offers some real pathways to meet these opportunities and challenges. It helps us understand where we have come from and where we may be going, and offers a framework for sustainable health care as an integral part of the system in the future.
Teachers: Phillip Cottingham and Simon Mills, September 26 – 30, 2011. For further details click here

Photograph by Daniel Thistlethwaite

What About Monday Morning? Awareness, Wisdom and Compassion in the Workplace

Far from needing to run away to a monastery or a cave, some spiritual traditions emphasise the value and potential of turning fully towards the chaos, challenge and emotionality of our work as a basis for self discovery and for benefiting others and the world at large.
This programme offers you the opportunity to explore using tried and tested tools and approaches from both ancient and modern traditions in a safe, stimulating and supportive environment.
Teacher: Tim Malnick, September 9 – 11, 2011. For further details click here.

Photograph by Daniel Thistlethwaite

Associate Events

Rainbows, Ritual and Reflection: A Water-Themed Gathering in the Lake District, 7th – 9th October 2011

This event forms part of the GreenSpirit annual gathering: “The theme of this weekend is water – so come and flow with us through a Watery Lakeland Weekend exploring the nature of water and all its personalities in music and movement, art and creativity, practical action, ritual and meditation, indoors and out among the wildness of Cumbria.” Click here for more details.

SW Sustainable Construction seminar series, June 2011 at City of Bristol College

Green Register is working with City of Bristol College to provide information about a range of areas related to sustainable construction including Revisions to the Building Regulations; Integrating Low Carbon Technologies; and The Code for Sustainable Homes. These training events feature a line-up of forward thinking speakers, from professional environmental consultants to experts on water conservation and low carbon technologies. Click here for details.

Other news

New visiting academics to Schumacher College: Professors Peter Reason and Patricia Shaw

We are delighted to announce that two new visiting academics of outstanding calibre will be helping to expand the participatory learning component of our Masters programmes.

Professor Peter Reason, who will contribute to both Masters, retired in 2009 from an academic career at the University of Bath in which his primary contribution was to the theory and practice of participatory action research. He was Director of the Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice (CARPP) and co-founder of the MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice.

Professor Patricia Shaw, who will work specifically with the MSc and in developing our PhD programme in Holistic Science, is an expert in the application of complexity theory to organisations. She is Visiting Professor at the University of Hertfordshire and the Copenhagen Business School. Both Peter and Patricia have had long and fruitful associations with Schumacher College, and we greatly look forwards to our new chapter in our work with them both.

Encounters: A Little Patch of Ground

A Little Patch of Ground is a food growing and performance project run by Encounters. The project brings together an inter-generational group of residents from across the South Hams who will meet every Thursday from May – September, on the Dartington Hall Estate, to create and grow their own permaculture-inspired vegetable garden eat together, explore thoughts on food, sustainability and interdependence. The group will also use creative writing and drama activities to explore, unearth and tell stories of the relationships people have with the natural world. These will be woven together into a multi-media performance that reflects the shared stories, thoughts and ideas unearthed during the project.

Schumacher College is very pleased to be a part of this project and has supported Encounters’ recent recruitment of permaculture designers and growing/performance apprentices, as well as helping to find several participants. The College will continue to be be involved in input to the programme which includes deep ecology, ecopsychology and systems theory as well as providing inspiration for the creative team. A Little Patch of Ground will be running an EarthTalk at the College in October.

More information about the progress of the garden can be found on the Encounters Blog here

Next Open Evening – David Orr, 29 June 2011

The next Open Evening will be held on Wednesday 29th June. David Orr will talk about the US-based Oberlin Project and how it can inspire communities in the UK to work collaboratively with other groups to create a greener future. The Oberlin Project is a collaborative venture, developed by David, between Oberlin College, the City of Oberlin, Oberlin city schools and private sector and arts organisations to build a post-fossil fuel based economy. David also teaches on the forthcoming short course The Road Ahead: Building Community in the Long Emergency.

Home: An acoustic festival of music, voice, language & roots, 24 – 25 June, Dartington Hall

Home is a two-day festival focusing on acoustic music, voices and song from around the world. A celebration and exploration of different cultures and languages at a time when we’re losing global cultural biological and linguistic diversity. HOME features unplugged sets from a wide range of outstanding international artists. Will include live music, food vendors, craft stalls & workshops.

Click here to read a review of the 2010 Festival

Further details of our activities

Short courses on a range of subjects

MSc in Holistic Science

MA in Economics for Transition – Achieving low carbon, high well-being, resilient economies

Diploma in Horticulture (sustainable horticulture)
In collaboration with Duchy College

For recordings of 2010 and 2011 Open Evenings click here.

E.F. Schumacher

To read more about E.F. Schumacher in the centenary year visit

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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