Courses Overview >> Postgraduate Programmes >> Movement, Mind, and Ecology

Movement, Mind, and Ecology

Key Info

  • Be introduced to methods of practice led inquiry that involve physical engagement with the more-than-human world
  • Develop your own active, physical practice that can be used to help communities embrace their own connections with place
  • Draw from the surrounding landscape of Dartington and Devon in your work

About this course*

This programme explores the rich intersection of embodied practice, environmental philosophy, and ecological thinking. Literally grounded in the experience of its participants to place, this programme has the capacity to reshape our relationship to place, to nature, and to ourselves. We live in an era when climate change has become broadly accepted, yet the majority of economic, social, and legislative systems have not substantively changed to meet the challenges of a warming climate.

This programme gives students the tools to bring about that change, by helping communities and individuals reconnect with the places in which they live through physical activity, and through this fresh engagement with the lived environments provides opportunities to reframe our relationship with the more-than-human world.

*Please note this course is currently going through Approval with our Accrediting Body The University of Plymouth. You can register your interest for 2021 using the 'register for updates' facility on this page.

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By drawing on the expertise of existing faculty and staff at Schumacher College, specialists in movement ecology, critical mobility studies, embodiment and ecosomatics, systems thinking, and on world-renowned experts in a wide range of physical pursuits – from record-holding free divers, high altitude alpinists, long-distance walkers, ultrarunners, and many others – this course will braid together, for the first time in an MA programme, students’ physical, corporeal engagement with the world with diverse threads of ecophilosophy, mindfulness, and ecological thinking.

The location of Schumacher College near to both Dartmoor National Park and the South Devon coastline presents a range of outdoor opportunities for students enrolled in the programme. Access to trail running, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, cycling, and other resources abound in the area on and around the Dartington estate. These exciting physical challenges will be complemented and extended by opportunities to reflect and reconnect with environments in order to reassess our relationship with the natural world.

Throughout the programme, students will:

  • Cultivate their relationship with place through movement
  • Write about immersive experiences
  • Interrogate their perceived boundaries
  • Develop resilience in their engagement with place, self, and others
  • Explore a range of techniques with which to mediate their relationships with self through action
  • Redefine adventure and embody practice

Programme information / apply now

IMPORTANT: Please ensure you consult our Applicant Information for full information on tuition fees and other key information about our courses.

You can then return to this page for programme-specific information and to make your course application.

Movement, Mind, and Ecology

Applications will open soon. You can register your interest for 2021 using the 'register for updates' facility on this page.

Module 1: Movement and Mind – 30 credits

By foregrounding the embodied engagement of students with natural places through a variety of different physical means, this module lays the foundation for Movement, Mind, and Ecology. The rigorous intellectual and personal inquiry set the tone and rhythm for the entire programme. In this module, students will be introduced to methods of practice led inquiry that involve physical engagement with the more-than-human world. Workshops with some of the world’s leading athletes, adventurers, place-based practitioners, and thinkers will help students make connections between the body and the world around us.

Module 2: Ecology and Embodiment – 30 credits

This module foregrounds the role of movement in ecological systems, from migration to climate adaptation to ocean currents to isostatic rebound and more. Students will engage in guided individual projects throughout the module, culminating in a final practical project that interweaves an embodied connection to place with a deeper understanding of the dynamic nature of the systems in which we are all already a part. The physiology of movement will be an ongoing theme that grounds our conversations.

Module 3: Mediating Boundaries – 30 credits

This module emphasizes seminar-style student-led class sessions to explicitly bring student experience and expertise to the classroom. The focus of the module on exploring, understanding, and challenging boundaries (between self and other, human and non-human, individual and community, and between different ecological systems) is itself mediated by ongoing physical practice. Through this guided practice, students will use a phenomenological lens with which to explore the limits of the self.

Module 4: Performing Place – 30 credits

In this final taught module, students will develop their own community-based active, physical practice that can be used to help communities embrace their own connections with place through direct action and corporeal engagement. Examples could include: developing a community walking group, starting a meditation practice for a local gardening group, adding an element of ecological education to an existing athletic event, developing and deploying ways to challenge ableist conceptions of physical activity.

Module 5: Dissertation or Final Project – 60 credits

An individual project.

Session 1 (June 2021)

Module 1: Movement and Mind 30 credits
Module 2: Ecology and Embodiment 30 credits

Session 2 (September/October 2021)

Module 3: Mediating Boundaries 30 credits Module 4: Performing Place 30 credits


Session 3 (January/February 2022)

Module 5: Dissertation/Final Project 60 credits


Dr Pavel Cenkl

Pavel has worked for more than two decades in higher education in America and has always been drawn to colleges and universities whose curriculum fully integrates learning with practice and thinking with embodiment.

Having taught and served as Dean for nearly 15 years at Vermont’s Sterling College, Pavel brings a depth of experience to Schumacher College’s unique approach to experiential learning. While pursuing research in ecologically-minded curriculum design and teaching courses in environmental philosophy, Pavel is also a passionate endurance and adventure runner. Over the past five years through a project called Climate Run, Pavel has covered hundreds of miles in the Arctic and subarctic on foot in order to bring attention to the connections between our bodies and the more-than-human world in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

Pavel holds a Ph.D. in English and is the author of many articles, chapters, and two books: Nature and Culture in the Northern Forest: Region, Heritage, and Environment in the Rural Northeast. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2010; and This Vast Book of Nature: Writing the Landscape of New Hampshire's White Mountains, 1784-1911. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2006. He is currently working on a book titled Resilience in the North: Adventure, Endurance, and the Limits of the Human, which threads together personal narrative and observation with environmental philosophy and reflections on what it means to be human.