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The Gross National Happiness Master Class, UK and Bhutan

With Ha Vinh Tho, Julia Kim, Julie Richardson

£ 8950.00
The course fee includes all tuition, accommodation, meals and field trips in the three residential modules and the on-line study circle, mentoring and assessed assignments.
It does not cover travel to Bhutan or the UK, travel insurance or incidental expenses. This course is delivered at Schumacher College in the UK and at several locations in Bhutan, organised by the Gross National Happiness Centre. Once you have registered and paid your deposit to reserve your place, we will send you application forms requesting further information linked to the entry requirements for this programme. Please complete and return all the application forms by the application deadline.

A 12 month programme including residential study in the UK and Bhutan supported by an on-line programme of study and mentoring

A collaboration between Schumacher College and the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan With Ha Vinh Tho, Julia Kim, Julie Richardson, and guest teachers.

Residential Dates in the UK and Bhutan:

24 July – 4 August 2017 : A 12 day residential at Schumacher College, UK
13 – 19 November 2017: A 7 day residential at Schumacher College, UK
7-19 May 2018: A 10 day residential programme in Bhutan (at various locations)


Join us for a 12 month learning journey to experience Gross National Happiness in practice and to develop the skills and experience to develop your own Gross National Happiness prototype supported by a community of peers, tutors and experts. The GNH Masterclass program has been created in response to the growing international interest in Bhutan’s unique, alternative development paradigm, Gross National Happiness (GNH). In contrast to the narrow pursuit of economic growth for its own sake, GNH promotes the sustainable happiness and wellbeing of all life.

The GNH Masterclass is a collaborative one-year program hosted by the GNH Centre in Bhutan, and Schumacher College in the UK. The 3 residential modules, combined with online activities and support are designed to lead each participant on a personal journey of inspiration, discovery and capacity building. The program is designed to help all participants cultivate the skills and experience to develop their own GNH-inspired prototype.

Theory U core principles and practices will inform the entire program, and participants will gain first-hand experience and capacity to use these approaches and other facilitation skills to shift existing systems from ego- to eco-system awareness and action in alignment with GNH.

Mindfulness theory, science and practices will  allow participants to cultivate and promote the necessary inner “happiness skills” to support and inspire GNH and wider social and systems transformation. 

Who Is This Program For?

  • Those who have had prior exposure and experience with GNH/alternative economics, Theory U/facilitation/leading change processes, or mindfulness practices and who wish to deepen their understanding and practice in these areas
  • Those who have a project or specific context where they would like to apply their insights and skills from this program, in a year-long supported container of mentorship from peers, mentors, and experts (prototyping). Participants should already have a high level vision of a GNH-related project that they would like to develop and are seeking the support, skills, expertise or simply the space to make it happen.
  • Those who wish to be able to present GNH to various audiences (e.g. facilitate GNH training programmes, communicate about GNH or be GNH Ambassadors or focal points for local or national GNH Centre initiatives)

This Program Will:

  • Investigate what is wrong with the current economic system and why it is not delivering well-being for people and planet.
  • Explore new economic models with a focus on GNH as an alternative development paradigm, both in theory and practice.  
  • Lead sensing journeys to inspiring projects, people and sacred places in the UK an Bhutan
  • Provide the unique opportunity of learning first-hand about the experiment of Gross National Happiness and what this means at both a country and personal level.
  • Provide regular assessments of progress and constructive feedback on how to deepen one’s understanding and practice
  • Successful completion of this non-formal Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme, will lead to a Certificate awarded jointly by the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan and Schumacher College as well as an invitation to become a member of the international network of accredited GNH practitioners

Programme Structure

The GNH Master Class consists of three residential modules within a programme of online study,  mentoring and assessed assignments.
Module 1:  GNH as an Alternative Development Paradigm , residential at Schumacher College, UK,  24 July – 4 August 2017
Followed by an on-line programme of study, mentoring and assessed assignments
Module 2: GNH as a Path of Inner Transformation, residential at Schumacher College, UK, 13 – 19 November 2017
Followed by an on-line programme study, group mentoring and assessed assignments (covering Modules 2 and 3)
Module 3: Protoyping GNH: This will be hosted by the GNH Centre at various locations in Bhutan, 7-19 May 2018

Programme Details

The GNH Master Class will be based around participant’s own GNH related interests and prototypes and will take place within the overall transformative learning framework of Theory U 

Module 1: GNH as an Alternative Development Paradigm

During this module we will investigate what is wrong with the current system and why it is not delivering well-being for people and planet. We will explore new economic models with a focus on Gross National Happiness (GNH) as an alternative development paradigm, both in theory and practice.  Participants will be introduced to U Theory a social technology for transformative change. This will include experiencing U Theory Tools such as dialogue; 4 levels of listening; sensing journeys; journaling and case clinics in the context of developing your own GNH prototype. 

Module 1: GNH as an Alternative Development Paradigm

Indicative Syllabus Content

  • Why our current economy does not deliver well-being for people and planet?
  • The 8 disconnects and the 3 divides (spiritual; social; ecological)
  • Introduction to new economics thinking and practice
  • GNH Framework as an alternative development paradigm
  • GNH at different levels of scale: international; national; sectoral
  • Introduction to U Theory as a Social Technology of Change;
  • Visiting alternative development projects in the local area and GNH Case Studies
  • Carry out your own sensing journey related to personal GNH project [on-line]
  • Inner transition for Social Transformation
  • Practices for reconnecting to self, others and nature
  • Introduction to meditation practice (mindfulness & compassion)
  • Solo walk in nature
  • Case clinics related to developing GNH Projects
  • Programme design (5 steps according to theory U)
  • Prototyping Journaling
  • Participant presentations of GNH prototype ideas
  • On-line study, webinars, mentoring, discussion and assignments

Module 2: GNH as a Path of Inner Transformation

This module focuses on the inner path of transformation.  Through the cultivation of Happiness Skills, participants will practice and facilitate happiness skills through training in mindfulness, compassion, and social and emotional learning (SEL). 

The notion of 'happiness skills' is based on all genuine Wisdom Traditions of the world, as well as the latest scientific research findings that confirm that the mind can be trained through regular practice. As a result, positive mental and emotional habits and behaviours can be enhanced, bringing about more physical and mental happiness and wellbeing.

Module 2: GNH as a Path of Inner Transformation

Indicative Syllabus Content

The science and wisdom of Mindfulness

  • From inner transformation to social change: Transforming the poisons of the mind, Loving Kindness, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity as a basis for a healthy inner life and social organisation
  • Facilitating Cultivation of happiness skills: mindfulness and compassion; deep relaxation
  • Facilitating U Tools including journaling; dialogue walks; social presencing theatre; nature solo;
  • Case clinics – deepening peer to peer support in opportunities and challenges of participants GNH prototypes
  • Going forward – Incorporating learning and experience of Module 2 into prototyping GNH project.  Introduction to Module 2 and Module 3 on-line programme and assessments; Preparing for Module 3 in Bhutan
  • On-line study, webinars, group mentoring, discussion and assignments

Module 3: Prototyping GNH Bhutan

During this module we will conclude our year-long exploration of GNH and alternative economic paradigms by visiting Bhutan, the birthplace of Gross National Happiness.  Participants will gain first-hand experience of how GNH is being lived and applied in Bhutan (including current challenges and opportunities) through meeting Bhutanese from a diverse range of settings, and undertaking sensing journeys to deepen our understanding of relevant areas of GNH (e.g. education, environment, health, spirituality, culture, governance). You will spend time in both urban and rural parts of the country, and have time for inner reflection - supported by Bhutan’s pristine natural environment, local monasteries and other sacred sites.

You will have the chance to strengthen your confidence and application of mindfulness practices and Theory U tools, and to refine and deepen your GNH prototype, with the support of peers and Facilitators. We will conclude by exploring the connections between local and global GNH efforts and between inner transformation and social change - and how we can be part of a growing and inspiring network of inter-related projects and people. We will celebrate the end of our GNH Masterclass journey with a concluding ceremony, joined by members of the GNH Centre Board.

Module 3: Prototyping GNH

Indicative Syllabus Content

  • How is Gross National Happiness Implemented in Bhutan?
  • Deepening Our Understanding of the Four Pillars and Nine Domains
  • GNH Tools in practice in Bhutan (indicators, screening tool, happiness cultivation practices
  • GNH in practice in different sectors: Theory U Sensing Journeys
  • Sensing journeys to different sectors (related to participant interests) in Bhutan (eg. Social enterprise; arts and crafts; spirituality, nature, education; health; rural development; policy; governance…)
  • Experience of GNH in practice in Bhutan, spending time in urban and rural areas
  • Developing a distributed international network of GNH Practitioners
  • Applying Theory U to Structure a GNH project or programme
  • Continue experiencing and Facilitating Theory U Prototyping Tools
  • Development of GNH projects in groups or individually with support from mentors, peers and experts
  • Presentation and group feedback on GNH prototypes

Going Forth:  Staying connected; needs and offers


Each module will include assessed assignments during the residential module and the on-line study programme.  These will include presentations to peers and facilitators; facilitating mindfulness practices, preparing and leading Theory U practices, and reflective journaling.

GNH Master Class Certificate

Participants will be issued with the GNH Training Manual and those who have successfully completed the GNH Master Class assessments will be certified GNH practitioners and be eligible to become members of the GNH Centre Bhutan network of GNH Trainers and Facilitators. The programme may also qualify for credits towards Continuing Professional Development.

Entry Requirements

Applicants to the Gross National Happiness Master Class will be asked to provide evidence of experience in at least one of the following three areas:

Sustainability/GNH knowledge:
This may include details of courses or programmes followed, research or active  participation in sustainable development projects. 
Mindfulness: This may include information about retreats attended, MBSR training and practice (or similar experience); years of regular practice.
Presentation and Facilitation: This may include experience as a trainer, consultant or similar activities (eg. Facilitating workshops; group dialogue)

GNH Proposal:
Submission of a satisfactory proposal for developing a GNH Prototype (maximum 1000 words)

Health and Well-Being:
This programme includes visiting different places in Bhutan involving travelling on rough and mountainous roads and walking pilgrimages in remote, rural and high altitude environments (above 3000 metres) . Participants will be responsible for their own health and well-being including completing a Health and Well-Being Form; providing a Medical Certificate (if requested); and taking out their own travel and health insurance.

Language Requirement:
Participants must be fluent in English – including reading, writing listening and speaking.

Reserve your place for only £150.00 deposit. The course fee includes all tuition, accommodation, meals and field trips in the three residential modules and the on-line study circle, mentoring and assessed assignments.  It does not cover travel to Bhutan or the UK, travel insurance or incidental expenses.  This course is delivered at Schumacher College in the UK and at several locations in Bhutan, organised by the Gross National Happiness Centre. Once you have registered and paid your deposit to reserve your place, we will send you application forms requesting further information linked to the entry requirements for this programme. 

Bursaries are available for the Gross National Happiness Master Class

To support a wide cross section of participation on the Gross National Happiness Master Class we have a small bursary fund available. We try to ensure that our financial assistance helps those most in need and is shared amongst as many applicants as possible. It is limited to those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend. For the Gross National Happiness Master Class, most bursaries are in the region of 10-50% of the course fee and do not cover travel or incidental expenses.  Only in exceptional circumstances will larger bursaries be awarded.

Contact: For further information about the programme or to make an application for a bursary award, please contact


Dr. Ha Vinh Tho

Dr. Ha Vinh Tho is the Programme Director of the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan (link is external) (link is external) and Dharmacharya in the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Tradition. He is in charge of setting the learning objectives, developing the curriculum and the learning process both for Bhutanese and international participants. He has been the Head of training, learning and development at the International Committee of the Red Cross from 2005 to 2011. In this position he has developed and implemented a “People Leadership and Management program” for over 600 mid level managers and 140 senior managers including all the executives of the  ICRC. He has trained humanitarian professionals working in war zones and emergency response in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Dr. Ha Vinh is the founder and chairman of Eurasia Foundation, a humanitarian NGO developing educational programs for children and youths living with disabilities, as well as ecological projects in Vietnam. He is a visiting fellow in adult education and humanitarian work in several Universities(Hue/Vietnam, UCL/Belgium, Geneva/Switzerland). Click here for a recent Earth Talk at Schumacher College with Ha Vinh Tho >>

Dr. Julia Kim

Dr. Julia Kim is a physician and public health researcher with program, policy and advocacy experience in the areas of international health and sustainable development, MDGs, and the post-2015 agenda. While based in New York at the Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP, her interests focused on addressing HIV, socio-economic inequalities, and other cross-cutting development challenges, as well as leveraging private-public partnerships, leadership development and community capacity-building programs.

More recent work within UNICEF has focused on incorporating equity, wellbeing, and sustainable development within the post-2015 agenda. Her interest in GNH has included participation in the 2012 UN High-Level Meeting on “Happiness and Wellbeing: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” as well as research and policy analysis on “Health, happiness and well-being: implications for public policy” (Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNHResearch). She is currently a Senior Program Advisor at the GNH Centre, and a member of the International Expert Working Group for the New Development Paradigm, convened by the Government of Bhutan.

Other interests include integrating compassion and awareness-based practices within leadership development and organizational change initiatives, and she is a member of the Presencing Institute – a global community that sees the integration of awareness-based practices as a core capacity of 21st-century innovation and leadership. Julia graduated from Cornell University, is a Specialist in Internal Medicine and Community-Oriented Primary Care (Tufts University School of Medicine) and holds a MSc. in Public Health in Developing Countries (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Julie Richardson

Julie is a Senior Lecturer in new economics and Head of the Schumacher Worldwide Programme.  She teaches on the MA in Economics for Transition at Schumacher College. She has over 20 years international experience working across a range of sectors and organisations covering different aspects of sustainable development in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. She has taught at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels at the University of London and in the African and Asian School at the University of Sussex.

More recently she has worked as a senior environmental policy advisor to the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and as Principal Sustainability Officer for Jonathon Porritt’s Forum for the Future. Here her work included advising the business sector on how to incorporate sustainability issues into their corporate strategy including measuring and reporting their wider social and environmental impacts.

Julie has published widely, including her most recent co-authored book, The Triple Bottom Line: Does It All Add Up? The book highlights a fresh approach to organisational performance that takes account of environmental, social and economic impacts. Julie Richardson was also a Trustee of the Transition Network in its start up phase.

With Ha Vinh Tho, Julia Kim, Julie Richardson

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A place can not be guaranteed unless we receive your deposit or payment on your chosen course. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please do this before making your course application.


Short Course Bursaries create an opportunity for an individual to experience the powerful transformative learning by joining a course that assists the participant to inspire their wider community and benefits from the participant’s own unique contribution. It is our hope that our bursaries support a wide cross section of participation on our short course programme. The number of bursaries available is limited, competition is strong and funding is not always available for every short course. Please be aware that most bursaries are in the region of 10% – 20% of the course fee so please be prepared to raise funding from other sources.  A bursary award is not intended to cover travel or incidental expenses.

Applications are viewed on a case-by-case basis and we are unable to enter into discussions on any decisions. We generally have many more applications for bursaries than we have funding available. We can only offer one bursary per person per year and priority is given to those who have not attended the college or received a bursary before. To help us support as many people as possible, please only apply if you would be unable to attend the course without a bursary.

How to apply for a bursary

NB: Please do not pay your deposit for the course yet. Any applications received where a deposit has been paid will be rejected and the deposit refunded.

Six weeks before the course is due to start all bursary applications will be considered and responded to.  If successful you will be required to accept our Bursary Terms and Conditions.

Please answer the following:

  1. What does a bursary mean to you?
  2. How will your attendance on this course benefit the wider community?
  3. If your financial situation justifies you applying for a bursary, how much are you able to contribute towards attending this course?

Please be prepared to supply an appropriate reference in support of your application.