Student Profile - Galeo Saintz

galeo-saintz

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

I was involved in exploring mountain conservation and was actively networking to create a dedicated mountain institute in South Africa. I was also focused on completing various creative writing projects. Prior to that I had been involved in a family business and established my own publishing title which I sold.

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

I had read towards physics and engineering as an undergraduate and it was science that made me decide to study in the first instance. My experience at university was not nearly as inspiring as I had hoped it would be. I read the Tao of Physics and the Turning Point by Fritjof Capra, when I was a 16 year old. The philosophy of whole systems attracted me to continue reading in science and especially the programme offered by Schumacher College. I also read the full treatise on Holism by Jan Smuts when I started by physics studies and felt this to be the line of enquiry that I wished to give more attention. I became fascinated with the theory of fields and light, and they continue to hold my interest. The MSc in Holistic Science afforded me the opportunity to address my love of the pure sciences and to engage at the same time with a deep ecological study that would take my career in relation to conservation issues forward in a pragmatic manner. The holistic approach offered by the college appealed to me greatly, having the privilege of a Steiner education from my youth.

3.     Describe your time at the College?

I loved my time at college, even though there were times that were extremely testing for me personally, as I hold high expectations from any academic institution and Schumacher College required full trust in the methods employed, much like Steiner education does. As a pragmatist and someone focused on outcomes and impact, it took me some time to get into the emergent nature of the education offered.  The highlight, and yes the great value of attending and being an alumni of Schumacher College is not only meeting remarkable people from all over the world, especially over lunch of breakfast, but in engaging with an equally diverse and talented group of doers, activists and leading modern scientists who make up the faculty  The campus, located close to the Dart River offered much solace and the opportunity for afternoon walks, which played a significant role in my capacity to integrate the content of the lecture sessions of the mornings.

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

Conservation - It was important to me to complete my dissertation research in South Africa and to be able to bring the knowledge I had gained back to my home country.

I become involved in a burgeoning conservation and biodiversity corridor initiative as a result of my studies and focused my dissertation on this proposed biodiversity corridor of which I then become a co-founder. This lead me to trailblazing a new trail initiative through the corridor which at the time became South Africa’s longest hike, known as the Eden to Addo. From there I went on to co-found a mountain traverse and landscape conservation initiative through the Cape Mountains called the Rim of Africa, stretching some 650km from the Cederberg Mountains to the Outeniqua Mountains through one of the world’s leading botanical World Heritage Sites.

World Trails Network - My work in helping champion these two conservation-linked trails in South Africa lead me to become the founding chair of a global network of the world’s leading trails, and today my work in this regard involves helping create a globally connected trails industry representing the world’s leading walking and outdoor trail destinations. I am the founder of South Africa’s first walking festival and have developed an unusual land art walking experience with local land artists. Walking remains a central focus in my life and a collection of my poetry on walking, wondering and wilderness is in the final stages of collation.

Wild Peace and Peace in Nature - While at Schumacher College, an American friend Kaye Jones, posted a copy of Wendell Berry’s poem, The Peace of Wild Things on my door. This poem inspired me at the time to establish a global movement for peace in nature. Some seven years later I was finally able to act on those first intentions and established a platform for international collaboration in addressing human-wildlife conflict and conflict in nature, and so the Wild Peace Alliance was created. Fostering peace with other than human species is now the focus of my life work. In the last three years I have completed two peace, nature and wilderness related expeditions focused on raising awareness for coexistence and peace in relation to nature, and especially ‘problem’ species such as wolves. My work in this regard has included addressing the rhino crisis in South Africa and to this end I was instrumental in leading the Rhino Reality Expedition of 2012. My rhino work today includes collaborating on a theatre project in Vietnam to help reduce demand for rhino horn by highlighting the plight of rhino through the medium of theatre and the arts.

Today I travel widely presenting talks and insights at international congresses and conferences, such as the 2014 IUCN Word Parks Congress, the 2015 International Symposium for Peace through Tourism and the recent Economics and Business of Peace Conference hosted by the Institute for Economics and Peace and the Kogod Business School in Washington DC, to name just a few. I hope to one day return to Schumacher College and share my experiences as an alumni, as I believe each generation as the responsibility to build bridges for future generations leading to a more peaceful world and a more humble understanding of our place in it and our role as individual members of a globally connected community of sentient beings.

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