Schumacher is a very special place. As we try and figure out what on earth we’re going to do with this unraveling planet, it’s become a thinktank for hope, a battery for positive vision!
We need ecological design centres in every region of the world to mid-wife the transition and serve as repositories of know-how and know why . . . Schumacher, the Dartington Estate, and Totnes could fill the role of flagship in that movement.
I teach on the Holistic Science MSc because it is the only course I know of that takes the living of an holistic inquiry for our times seriously. The way students live and work with everyone else involved in creating the environment that is Schumacher, the way the teachers work with each other and the students, the way we pay attention all the time to how the course walks its talk in integrating careful thinking, ethical practice, cultivation of sensibilities of feeling, sense and intuition – this is serious play!
Not a single day has gone by which hasn’t been in some way astonishing and where I haven’t learnt something about myself or the wider world around me from either my teachers or my fellow students.
Unfortunately this week has made me realise how mediocre the University experience is compared to Schumacher College.
Schumacher College is simply one of the finest teaching and learning environments to be found anywhere in the World.
Holistic Science Testimonials
The reason why I have continued to teach at Schumacher College for many years is because I find the conditions at Schumacher very conducive to what I am trying to communicate – a way of seeing that students need to experience in order to understand. The background of Schumacher College, and the quality of the students who are attracted to it, are exceptional in my experience. This is what makes it possible to do the kind of work I do there which requires a shift in perception. I can’t really imagine doing it anywhere else.
The MSc in Holistic Science has helped me view the global economy (embedded as it is in our finite earth ecology) as a complex adaptive system. In particular, as I seek to accelerate the rate of innovation and the scale of impact of our work, I am much more relaxed about throwing out new ideas and only pursuing those that seem to attract the energy of colleagues and partners.
It is pretty difficult to sum up what I learned in the MSc in a few sentences. The very short answer is that I better learned how the world works. How the dynamics of life in our three-dimensional reality work. I learned to see myself as embedded in a web of life that is always placed-based. I shifted my focus from things to relationships. And I will for the rest of my life be a student of these dynamics in order to live and design in harmony with them instead of opposition.
The MSc certainly opened my eyes to new ways of doing business in a complex world. Both the formal teachings and the tremendous networking potential of the College have helped me in forging a professional life that I feel reflects my ideals.
For me doing the MSc was definitely one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in my life. Now that I am teaching at business schools, I can really now understand the benefits of having had the immersive experience that Schumacher brings. I can see how there is a huge difference between people who understand concepts such as complexity just in terms of thinking, or in their heads, and from students who are able to know the world from a much more profound and deeper perspective. This can only really be acquired from the way in which these subjects are not just taught, but lived and experienced at Schumacher College.
During my MSc in Holistic Science I learned a comprehensive qualitative approach to science that binds natural and cultural phenomena. It was a unique experience that transformed my own inner way of relating to complex circumstances and empowered me with the tools necessary to develop the way of life I’ve always dreamed of.
What I learnt and experienced from the MSc is that everything is ever changing. Working with the concepts of holistic science I experienced living with complexity and change as a way of life rather than as a stage I had to survive. For me, the gift of holistic science was to learn to appreciate the inherent potential in all situations. This has taught me to more effectively think, act and live with the tension of transitions through multidisciplinary approaches.
I learnt how to appreciate the wholeness of nature and life. I learnt how to connect with that wholeness and access knowledge through all my senses (my mind, my intuition, my feelings) to make decisions (personal and professional) that are in harmony with this unity. All of this has helped me be more effective at work and apply an integral approach to everything I do. It profoundly changed me and the way I live life and share it with others.
Ecological Design Thinking Testimonials
The past 20+ years at Schumacher has produced in the words of the great and wonderful Gregory Bateson “a difference that makes a difference” and we agree.
I believe that Schumacher College is uniquely qualified to redefine what Ecological Design in the 21st century ought to be.
Good design needs to be built upon an understanding of ecology and society within which design takes place. The ‘ecosystems approach’, at the heart of the new Masters in Ecological Design at Schumacher College, places this insight as the starting point for the design of all systems. Such a transformational approach is urgently needed.
Ecological Food Systems Testimonials
Bringing in lecturers who are at the forefront of their study was great as they had insights that may not necessarily be in the literature yet.
The experiential work has had a permanent effect on my relationship with nature and the validity of information arising from the unconscious mind. It has grounded me and changed my perspective.
The content was pitched at the right level and the pace was good. There was an excellent mix of teaching styles and a variety of tutors. Field trips were very informative and interesting
The field trips were extremely valuable, especially in providing an insight into different scales of operation and different levels of diversity in food production systems.
Excellent range of teaching methods. From spending time in the forest to more conventional classroom lectures – all were outstanding.
Economics for Transition Testimonials
"I can honestly say with hand on heart that my time as external examiner for the MA Economics of Transition has been without a shadow of a doubt the most enjoyable and rewarding external examining experience I have had in my academic career…..This Masters has produced the highest quality written work that I have come across at this level as both a teacher in my own university and in my experience of external examining in other universities across the UK and Ireland. Part of the pleasure and learning for me has been in observing how I think the students benefit enormously from the ‘Schumacher experience’, the intense, protected and supported learning environment of Schumacher college which of course spills over into personal development and growth and the development or unfolding of something we rarely explicitly focus on in higher education today, that of cultivating character, the fusing of knowledge and passion within an intense learning community and experience. It has been a pleasure to be associated with this new Masters programme, to see it grow and blossom, and become a place where future leaders in the transition from unsustainability have been cultivated, supported, mentored and launched into the world."
John Barry, External Examiner, Economics For Transition 2014-2015
I teach at Schumacher College because of its strong link with ecological sustainability and an approach which is based on collaborative co-creation. People are not told what to do, together they co-create their ideas. It’s a fundamentally different model of education that we can learn from and apply to the economy as well as other areas of our life.
In making the transition to a world in which we can all thrive within planetary boundaries, it is paradigm shift or bust, and nobody does paradigm shift better than Schumacher College. Its learning environment and the content of its courses make visions of a better world tangible. And, the Economics for Transition MA shows how right now we can take the first steps to get there.
The Economics of Transition course demonstrates how to unite the theory and practices of ecological economics and social economics to secure Co-operative Commonwealth.
Schumacher College is one of the few places I know where economic questions are being asked as openly as they need to be. When I run seminars there, I learn as much as I teach.