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Staff Researchers

Research at Schumacher College

We are committed to supporting and expanding our research.   Our staff researchers are

Dr Pavel Cenkl, Head of College  

My professional and personal lives have, over the past several years, been moving toward a confluence of teaching, mentoring, curriculum development, and advocacy — all within the context of thinking about ecological systems and connections among human and more-than-human communities.  The unifying focus of my research is on shaping a global conversation about the essential role of transdisciplinary study and the fertile, tangible outcomes of integrating art, science, humanities, and design in an ecological context and in ways that are both thoughtful and meaningful.

Since 2014, I have been working on the Climate Run project, which leverages endurance athletics to help build community and conversation around climate resilience. Climate Run was launched with a solo 3-day, 150-mile run across Iceland in 2015. Since then, I have completed several similar (50 to 400-mile) endurance adventures in Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, and the U.S. A key part of Climate Run is sharing my experience in as many different venues as possible — and thus far the project has served as an inspiration for many people to engage in running events, conversations, and initiatives that integrate ecological thinking with sport and embodiment.

I am currently working on book project about endurance running in the north as a way to engage in intentional dialogue with the more-than-human world. Tentatively titled Resilience in the North: Adventure, Endurance, and the Limits of the Human, the book threads together personal narrative and observation with environmental philosophy, and reflections on what it means to be human in this world today.

Dr Stephan Harding, Deep Ecology Fellow -  

My current major research project involves writing a book in collaboration with Dr Jeffrey Kiehl (senior climate scientist and Jungian analyst) on the connections between the science of Gaia (Earth System Science) and the Western depth psychological tradition known as alchemy, as elucidated by the psychologist C.G. Jung and others after him.  We are exploring how we can gain a deeper sense of connection to Gaia by contemplating alchemical images representing human psychological development alongside scientific details about the development of our planet over geological time and her ecological processes.

Another of my research interests is the use of multivariate statistical analysis of people’s qualitative assessments of landscape and ecosystem health.  I collaborated in publishing a definitive study in this domain with Professor Francoise Wemelsfelder of the Scottish Rural College and Sebastian Burch, a student on our MSc in Holistic Science, whose dissertation research forms an important part of this publication:Harding, S.P., Burch, S.E. and Wemelsfelder, F. 2017.  The Assessment of Landscape Expressivity: A Free Choice Profiling Approach.  PLoS ONE 12(1):e0169507. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0169507.

Other projects include assessing the effectiveness of the Deep Time Walk (which I co-created with our holistic science MSc student, geologist Sergio Maraschin). This research will be carried out with Robert Woodford, director of the Deep Time Walk CIC (community interest company) and the development of games and experiential activities which help to connect participants with key concepts from holistic science.  So far I have created the Jackdaw activity to explore social bonds in these birds through observation, art and dance, and the bee swarm game in which participants have to find the best of several potential nest sites hidden in the woods communicating only by means of bee-like waggle dances.

Dr Mona Nasseri, Senior Lecturer, Ecological Design Thinking -

My research interest are in the area of design for community engagement and community-led approaches to social and environmental wellbeing.   I’m interested in exploring the role of design in empowering people to take the lead in making ecological and social changes in their communities.

I have been involved in researching and teaching participatory practices (co-design) and systemic approaches to interventions for the purpose of regenerative and ecology- aware social change. My collaborations in interdisciplinary projects in East Africa have provided me with valuable insights into the cultural dynamics. They also  gave me the opportunity to explore the role of co-design in bridging the gap between research evidence and practical action by mobilizing community actions. I am interested to take this further into the field of co-designing alternative livelihoods in areas where the current practices contribute to environmental degradation.

Dr Andy Letcher, Senior Lecturer, Environmental Humanities -  

Andy Letcher has doctorates in Ecology from Oxford University, for which he researched the distribution of mammals across continents, and in the Study of Religion from King Alfred’s College, Winchester (now Winchester University), for which he studied bardism in contemporary Pagan movements. He is the author of Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom (Faber & Faber, 2006), and a range of academic papers on subjects as diverse as fairies, environmental protest, eco-paganism, Stonehenge, and animism.

His research interests include: the critical study of psychedelics; contemporary animism, shamanism and Paganism; process philosophy; and the relationship between science, ecology and spirituality. He has recently written or delivered papers on: religion, music and touch; the question of whether psychedelics can occasion nature-connection; and the contested role of psychedelics in contemporary Druidry.

Professor Roberto Fraquelli, Programme Lead, Ecological Design Thinking -

I have spent many years in both design practice and academia. My practice draws from working for organisations such as Procter & Gamble, LEGO, Shell, Prada and academic institutions all over the world. Combined with my scholarly activities at Schumacher college  I have developed a body of work that explores the delicate balance between operating in the world of business and encouraging an ecological mindset.

One of my key areas of interest is around exploring the notion of ‘deep empathy’ as a design response to creating environmental, social and cultural interventions that are respectful, regenerative and compassionate to all of life. My research inquiry promotes both a contemplative and intuitive response that draws from many aspects of ecological design thinking and making.

One of my current research projects explores ways society might address and reduce food waste. Working in collaboration with a number of academic partners and leading UK supermarket, the research team is beginning to explore how both technological interventions and lifestyle choices might reverse the current wasteful trends from farm to fork.

Jonathan Dawson, Programme Lead, Economics for Transition....

My areas of interests began in local economic development, especially in the context of West Africa and South Asia where I lived for a number of years.  Working for, among others, Schumacher’s brainchild, the Intermediate Technology Development Group, at the heart of my research was the potential for an ‘African path to development’, informed by and based on indigenous cultural norms and practices.  My research portfolio was dominated by studies into various dimensions of small enterprise and community economic development.

While I was President of the Global Ecovillage Network, I explored the field of experimental communities worldwide – their values, impacts and contribution to shifting the narrative, especially in the richer parts of the world.  I continue to have an ongoing fascination in the transition from centralised to distributed organisational forms and by the transformative potential inherent in pedagogical studies; in the 'how' of education in addition to the' what'.  Here I am finding a hugely enriching marriage of my practice as an educator and my studies into the processes by which people learn.  I am fascinated by the challenges and opportunities opened up by exploring multiple ontologies in a post-colonial world.