Student Profile - Juliana Schneider


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

I started working when I was 17 as an English teacher - a skill that led me a year later to work in exports in a big organization, also in Brazil, and then radically shift to an NGO that offered education to children in poor areas of the city. At this NGO I could work in the area I was studying as an undergraduate, which was communication. My position involved fundraising, internal communications, media press, public relations and events organizing. After an experience abroad with guest services, I got offered the opportunity to work at a multinational where I led many communication projects and finally being deeply involved with sustainability. This became an area of passion, especially the challenge of raising awareness of the ecological dimension amongst the employees, and also engaging schools and institutions within the surrounding community. Of course my view of sustainability back then – as well as the company’s - was way more limited than I’ve come to understand it now. Having a glimpse of that shortsightedness within the corporate sector was one of the reasons why I left. The next year – and one year before I started the MSc at Schumacher - I spent in London studying English, and then wwoofing (a volunteer organization in organic farms) in Italy for 3 months. The reason to go to London remained very unclear until a couple of months before actually moving there. That’s when a friend gave me to read a Brazilian magazine, in which there was a long article about Schumacher College. Then I knew I what I was heading for. I instantly knew I was going to apply for the MSc in Holistic Science.

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

I don’t think I really knew at the time what I was looking for, but as soon as I read the article about the College and the holistic science programme, I had absolute no question that I needed to be there. I had no articulation as to what was the reason or what exactly I was expecting, but I just knew with all my being that it was an experience I needed to go through. It spoke to me through my senses in such a way that there was no ignoring it, or thinking twice. In the article many aspects of the college really moved me – something about the community of learning and living together, and the meaningful questions being raised. There was an atmosphere that even not having been there I could feel was unique, pure and stimulating.

3.     Describe your time at the College?

The MSc classes really met deep questions in me that I didn’t even know I had. The way of learning allowed me to have insights into the content that was being taught as well as to go beyond it through the readings, time for reflection, and the many conversations that happened as we were cooking, sharing meals, cleaning, walking, having a glass of wine in the bar! What was really unique also was to be held in a space of inquiry amongst others, where the ‘contents’ we were learning were fully experienced in a sensorial way. Sharing such an experience with others was such a gift and created bounds that sustained the learning during and beyond the course. The interaction with also the teachers – the College’s faculty as well as the guest lecturers, was of much richness and friendliness. All of them share something they are deeply passionate about, what makes them real practitioners of what they are teaching.

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

I ended up staying at Schumacher for a one yearlong volunteer role as a facilitator for the master students (2012-13). During that time I had the opportunity to deepen my explorations on the theme of my thesis, which was based on the insights of complexity and phenomenology to the way our human lives organize. That got me into facilitating many short courses at Schumacher too. Back to Brazil in 2013 I was invited to run workshops for organizations and universities, offering a complexity perspective to themes like leadership, change, innovation and sustainability. I also became involved in the movement of stimulating the alumni network in Brazil and helped to organize the visit of Jon Rae, Head of Schumacher, and Patricia Shaw, teacher in the MSc, of 10 days in Brazil. From this visit many seeds grew which I then helped to sustain in the role of Schumacher Brazil Co-ordinator.

Since May 2014, along with many other alumni, we have convened monthly gatherings for our network of nearly 300 alumni and friends of Schumacher in Brazil. Later in the year we ran a short course taught by Brazilian alumni that recreated the ethos of the College in an organic farm and educational centre near Sao Paolo. And just at the end of the year we set up an organization (Escola Schumacher Brasil) to recognize all this activity and allow it to continue. Various programmes, courses, experiences and gatherings will be held this year, such as the Certificate in Holistic Science and Economics for Transition, which started in Colombia two years ago. Other courses for example will be the Leadership for Transition programme and the one week Schumacher Experience Brazil. Another collaboration of many people is the Community of Transformative Political Practice,which is giving birth to a pilot programme for a different kind of politics.

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