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New MA programmes begin and students arrive

Engaged Ecology students sow flax seeds in Henri's Field

Yesterday was a historic moment for learning at Dartington Trust as students on our two new MA programmes, Engaged Ecology at Schumacher College and Arts and Place at Dartington Arts School, experienced their first day of teaching on site here at Dartington. They join our horticulture students who arrived last week, and a strong cohort of students who have been with us on various other programmes since September last year.

Students on the MA in Engaged Ecology, together with the Schumacher Growers, were out in Henri’s Field yesterday sowing flax. This process forms a key spine to the two programmes, as students collaborate to nurture the plants over the course of the year, and then go on to harvest, treat and weave the flax into fabric. It’s a truly practical investigation of fibres, threads, and human and other-than-human entanglements, and a wonderful example of the learning ethos here which is underpinned by the idea that, in the words of E. F. Schumacher, “an ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory.”

Dr Pavel Cenkl, the Head of Schumacher College and Director of Learning at Dartington Trust said: “I am honoured and humbled to welcome students back to Schumacher College and to Dartington after a long absence. Students and staff on Engaged Ecology, Arts and Place, and the Horticulture Residency Programme have all worked incredibly hard to make it possible to resume the safe in-person practical and arts-based learning for which Dartington has been known for nearly 100 years. Joining the programmes' opening circle and morning meetings has been emotional for everyone as they signal a re-awakening of the vibrant learning community that is needed now more than ever.”

While conventional subjects at mainstream universities are having to continue with online provision, practical and creative courses like ours which need access to specialist equipment and facilities (including creative arts subjects) are allowed to return to in-person teaching and learning. This has not happened without a great deal of hard work from the staff here at the college and naturally social distancing, regular testing and a range of other COVID-19-related safety measures are in place.

As well as welcoming new students onto programmes, we are well into the process of inviting applications for programmes starting later this year and on into the next. Our MA Movement, Mind, and Ecology begins in June, giving students the chance to explore the rich intersection of embodied practice, environmental philosophy, and ecological thinking, followed by a portfolio of fantastic arts- and ecology-based postgraduate degrees starting in September. We are also very excited at the prospect of launching our first undergraduate degree at Schumacher College, the BSc in Regenerative Food and Farming. Find out more about one of the only programmes out there at the moment to focus entirely on regenerative alternatives to mainstream agricultural practices and food systems via this link.