Student Profile - Yannick Beaudoin

Yannick Beaudoin

1.     What had you been doing prior to beginning your PG course at Schumacher College?

I was introduced to Schumacher College in 2010 when I attended a Growth and Consequences short course. It was the beginning of a love affair that continues to this day. Prior to that short course, I was a marine geoscientist with a Norwegian non-profit foundation, GRID-Arenda, that collaborates with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). My professional work focus at the time quite specifically related to assisting developing states to define and delineate the outer limits of their continental shelf (marine seafloor beyond the 200 nautical mile limit) following criteria defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Although the objective of the work was very specific, it was an immensely rewarding experience that provided a wider range of new learning and experience as I was tasked to work with and in nearly 20 countries in Africa and the Pacific Islands. Having come from a mineral exploration background in Canada and Norway, being suddenly pushed into a field where people and culture were at the centre of things (as opposed to the limited conversationalists that are rocks), seeds of curiosity were planted…seeds that that initial exposure to Schumacher College kicked into in explosive growth mode.

2.     What was it that made you want to take the programme?

My initial Schumacher adventure left me wanting more. It had started to provide a language…words that were allowing me to understand a story (for myself) and laying the foundations for me to perhaps someday share that story with others - the story of change and transformation in society. Having expanded my role at GRID-Arendal to that of Head of the Marine Division, I began exploring the creative edges in relation to transforming economic thinking and action, starting with a focus on coastal and small islands states. Being someone passionate about the oceans, this was a familiar starting point. I had also by then taken a second short course at Schumacher College on Eco-facilitation. In combination with this growing experience of, and craving for new economic thinking, I was immersed into a field in which developing skills in the ‘art of dialogue and conversation’ could enable me to facilitate a discourse in the parts of the system I had access to with my work. From that point, the desire to become a ‘conversation architect’ for a ‘new art of economy’ coalesced in my mind and heart. At that time Schumacher at only started the early process of establishing the Masters in Economics for Transition. Having lived through an academic path that included an MSc and PhD, I was certainly to thinking along the lines of ‘going back to school’. But out of the blue, I felt a calling in me… why not? And if you’re going to go for it, it has to be a learning space that does not treat economy as a science…but truly as what it is.. a lived experience, a creative art.

3.     Describe your time at the College?

In early 2012, I received two great gifts: Schumacher College agreed to let me do the Masters in Economics for Transition as a part time student and my workplace, GRID-Arendal, agree to give me the time off necessary to complete the degree. And so there I was in early January 2012, dropped into the middle of the first cohort of Masters of Economics for Transition students. As anyone having experience Schumacher College can attest to, the space if invites you into is not an easy one. It challenges you; squeezes and pulls you; it makes you go deep within yourself while you struggle and cherish the group you interact and explore with. My time at Schumacher was therefore as much a personal journey of inner discovery as it much as it was a learning journey that opened me up to new ways of inquiry and new approaches to experiencing and sensing the world around me. It ripped me skillfully out of many of my well constructed comfort zones…and this was precisely what I needed. As a part time student, I in way disappeared for a while a returned to the college in Fall 2013 for my 4 month stay to complete the core modules. This was perhaps the most transformative time for me as it allowed me a safe and inspiring space to reflect, explore, inquire, express, create, enjoy, get angry, laugh profusely, cry as needed. The adventure that is Schumacher College exists as powerfully within me as it does as something tangible in the outer world. My time at the college provided me a new starting point for which I truly hope, there is no finish line.

4.     What have you gone on to do since leaving the College?

Upon my completion of the Masters of Economics for Transition in Spring 2014 (completion and submission of my dissertation), I took on a new role in GRID-Arendal, that of Chief Scientist. This allows me a new canvas upon which to invite our staff and our vast and diverse network to paint on. From oceans and coasts to mountains and glaciers, African communities to Pacific islands, we have an ability to affect ways of thinking, planning, doing, sensing, learning in so many different places and cultures. I am deeply mindful of where and how I can spice my and our work with Schumacher ingredients. Whether it be as part of our support to UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative, direct collaborative and participatory journeys with countries and communities on issues ranging from environmental conservation to building social resilience, I feel I have a unique set of ‘tools’ at my disposal and that with patience, understanding and purposeful inclusiveness, I can blend those tools into a number of global, national and local efforts working towards desired change. I also know that no matter my own journey from this point on, there is always a source of knowledge, inspiration and support open to me within the broader Schumacher family.

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