Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Changing the Frame - The Science and Art of Communicating for Transition

Changing the Frame - The Science and Art of Communicating for Transition

Course dates: 
Monday, 19 March, 2018 to Friday, 6 April, 2018
The Science and Art of Communicating for Transition image

A journey for writers and artists of every hue into the science and practice of effective, socially engaged communication

“It would be best to consider this as a revolution, not of guns, but  of consciousness,  which will be won by seizing the key images, myths, archetypes, eschatologies, and ecstasies so that life won’t seem worth living unless one is on the transforming energy’s side.” - Gary Snyder 


Nadine Andrews,
Tom Crompton
A.L. Kennedy (videolink)
George Marshall (videolink)
Philip Ralph 
Prof. Chris Rapley CBE
Kate Raworth
Janine Benyus by Skype
Manda Scott,
Jonathan Dawson

We live in a precarious moment in the fortunes of our civilisation, and indeed in those of the many species, ecosystems and future generations that find themselves threatened by it.  It is a moment where a deeper and broader understanding is needed into the systemic roots of the various crises converging upon us – as well as how we might creatively respond to them.

Politically progressive researchers and writers have often laboured under the illusion that providing ‘the strongest arguments’, substantiated by copious data, would be enough to win the day.  However, it is becoming increasingly recognised that effective communication is a science as well as an art, and that at least as much attention needs to be devoted to the how of communication as to the what.

Of particular importance is the growing understanding of the importance of values and frames in how people make sense of the world and in guiding their attitudes and behaviours.  So, campaigns to promote pro-social behaviours that appeal to people’s extrinsic values (to do, for example, with economic benefit or increased social status) may in the long run have the perverse effect of diminishing motivations deriving from intrinsic values associated with love and generosity.

Similarly, skilful use of visual and verbal/written metaphor is increasingly recognised as central to effective communication.

This course provides an opportunity for a deep dive, in the company of internationally recognised scientists, writers and artists in various media, into the science underlying the process by which we make sense of the world and how we can use this knowledge to become more effective communicators in the service of liberation.  In addition to a study of the science underlying effective communication, there will be ample opportunity for solo and/or collaborative creativity, coached by our team of writers and artists.

The course will provide an exploration of:

• insights derived from behavioural economics and neuro-neuroscience into the process by which people make meaning in the world and form (and change) their worldviews
• the importance of framing, values and metaphor in transforming individual and societal narratives
• a history of the rise of today’s dominant economic narrative, neoliberalism, and the role played by skilful communication strategies in its emergence
• the framing of alternative models and how they might be constructed in different narrative and artistic structures
• experimenting with creative expression in the company of a gifted, international, multi-modal learning community and teachers
• how to harness modern vehicles of mythology: television, film, internet memes
• personal life-frames and habits; how these are conditioned by the dominant societal narratives; and how to shift inner and outer frames as mutually supportive processes

This course will be taught at Schumacher College, an innovative centre of ecological excellence that for the last quarter century has been pioneering holistic approaches to learning across many disciplines.  The learning journey will take place in the beautiful surroundings of the Dartington estate in South Devon.

This course is an elective on our Economics for Transition postgraduate programme. It is open to external participants who would like to deeply explore this subject material and who can join us for the whole three-week programme. 

The course is designed to support:

• socially engaged writers seeking to make their work more effective, informed by the science of communication
• writers and artists of all kinds seeking to collaborate across artistic forms
• campaigners seeking to integrate the arts intelligently into their work to make it more effective, fun and engaging


Nadine AndrewsNadine Andrews - Nadine's work is concerned with supporting individuals and organisations to live in more harmonious relationship with the natural world. Her transdisciplinary PhD at Lancaster University investigated psychosocial factors affecting environmental cognition and behaviour, drawing on ecolingustics and ecopsychology theory. Currently working as a science officer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II technical support unit, Nadine also teaches mindfulness and nature connection courses, and uses these approaches in her independent coaching and consultancy practice. She is a steering group member of the International Ecolinguistics Association, and a member of the Climate Psychology Alliance. Before embarking on the PhD, Nadine worked for many years in the arts and heritage sector as an independent consultant in strategic marketing, organisational development, management research and evaluation, training and facilitation. In her early career she worked in various aspects of music industry and festival management.

Tom CromptonTom Crompton has worked on values and social change for nearly a decade, initially with WWF’s, whose work whose work in this area, Common Cause, started in 2008 with the publication of Tom’s report Weathercocks and Signposts. Currently, Tom is engaged in a productive collaboration involving WWF and Scope that is allowing them to test many of the principles advanced through Common Cause. Tom is now coordinating the establishment of The Common Cause Foundation.  His other publications include Meeting Environmental Challenges (co-authored with Tim Kasser).

A.L. KennedyA.L. Kennedy was born in Dundee in 1965. She is the author of 18 books: 7 literary novels, one science fiction novel, 7 books of short stories and 3 non-fiction volumes. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She has twice been amongst those in the Granta Best of Young British list. She is a member of the Akademie Der Kunst.
She is also a dramatist for stage, film, TV and radio.  She writes for a number of newspapers in the UK and further afield.  He prose is published in a number of languages and she has won a number of national and international awards, including the Costa Prize, the Austrian Stat Prize for International Literature and the Heinrich Heine Prize. She has worked as a stand up comedian and occasionally writes and performs one person shows.

George MarshallGeorge Marshall - Over the past 25 years George has worked at all levels of the environmental movement, including many years in the US as a senior campaigner for Greenpeace US and the Rainforest Foundation. He principal interest is in climate change psychology, narratives, communications and ‘the weirdness of our collective response’. He co-founded the Oxford-based Climate Outreach and Information Network, which has become a leader in climate change communications and widely recognised specialist in reaching new audiences. COIN has worked with trades unions, scouts, women's organisations, churches, Rotary Clubs, and many government departments and councils and is a lead advisor to the Welsh Government.

Philip RalphPhilip Ralph is an award-winning writer and performer, originally from Yorkshire, now based in Wales. He trained at RADA and worked as an actor for twenty years before branching out into writing.   Philip won the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award 2008 for his play Deep Cut, produced by Sherman Cymru, about the mysterious deaths of four young recruits at a Surrey army barracks. Deep Cut also won Fringe First and Herald Angel awards, toured the UK twice, had a successful run at the Tricycle Theatre in London, was the Friday Night Play on BBC Radio 4, and a screenplay was developed for Revolution Films.  He is a core team writer on the BBC daytime drama Doctors and has written episodes of Holby City.

Philip has developed and written several screenplays: Deep Cut with Revolution; Walking Wounded about survivors of the 7/7 terrorist attacks, with Mark Redhead at Hat Trick Productions and Sophie Gardiner at Channel 4; Lockerbie about the mystery surrounding the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 with Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald and Young Films, producers of The Inbetweeners Movie.

Since 2010 he has been The One-Eyed Man, in an extended series of experiments in performance, vulnerability, doubt, fear and the here-and-now. He won a Creative Wales Award from Arts Council Wales in 2011 to develop this work and has offered it at many different events around the country, including the Resurgence Summer Gathering, the Soulmaker’s Gathering and at many events for Emergence, an arts and sustainability initiative exploring the art of living well within the ecological limits of a finite planet. He is co-director of Emergence, alongside his partner Fern Smith and their most recent project is a crowd-funded documentary series, Being an Earth Pilgrim, about spiritual teacher and activist Satish Kumar.

Chris RapleyChris Rapley CBE is Professor of Climate Science at University College London. He is a Fellow of St Edmund's College Cambridge, a member of the Academia Europaea, a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Chairman of the London Climate Change Partnership. His previous posts include Director of the Science Museum London, Director of the British Antarctic Survey, President of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, and Head of UCL's Earth Observation satellite group.
His current interests are in the role of climate scientists in society and the communication of climate science. He is Chair of the UCL Commission on Communicating Climate Science.  Prof Rapley was awarded the 2008 Edinburgh Science Medal for having made 'a significant contribution to the understanding and wellbeing of humanity'.  His recent venture in communicating climate change via theatrical performance was awarded five stars by the Guardian’s Micheal Billington and described as ‘….better than good: it is necessary’.

Kate RaworthKate Raworth is a renegade economist focused on exploring the economic mindset needed to address the 21st century’s social and ecological challenges, and is the creator of the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries.  She is a Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, where she teaches on the Masters in Environmental Change and Management. She is also a Senior Associate at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.  Her internationally acclaimed idea of Doughnut Economics has been widely influential amongst sustainable development thinkers, progressive businesses and political activists, and she has presented it to audiences ranging from the UN General Assembly to the Occupy movement. Her book, Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist is being published in the UK and US in April 2017 and translated into Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese.  Over the past 20 years, Kate’s career has taken her from working with micro-entrepreneurs in the villages of Zanzibar to co-authoring the Human Development Report for UNDP in New York, followed by a decade as Senior Researcher at Oxfam.


Manda ScottManda Scott is a novelist, columnist, blogger, leftwing activist and screenwriter.  Formerly a veterinary surgeon, her first novel was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and her fourth nominated for an Edgar Award.  She began writing contemporary crime novels, shifted to historical fiction with the Boudica: Dreaming tetralogy and the ROME series of ancient world spy thrillers. These days she writes complex, interwoven dual time line thrillers exploring, amongst other things, the truth behind the mythology of Jeanne d’Arc and the origins of the CIA.   In 2017, she took a break and became a student again on the Economics for Transition post-graduate degree at Schumacher. Her dissertation explores the neurophysiology of narrative and her aim now is to find ways to shift and shape the world’s narrative to one that will make us who we need to be.

Johnathan DawsonJonathan Dawson is a sustainability educator, currently working as coordinator of Schumacher College’s innovative Economics for Transition postgraduate programme. He has a deep fascination with the power of narrative and language to shape how we understand the world and as a potential source of radical change in the norms, values and behaviours of our societies.  Until recently a long-term resident at the Findhorn ecovillage and a former President of the Global Ecovillage Network, he has around 20 years’ experience as a researcher, author, consultant and project manager in the field of small enterprise development in Africa and South Asia.

Jonathan is the principal author of the Gaia Education sustainable economy curriculum, drawn from best practice within ecovillages worldwide, that has been endorsed by UNITAR and adopted by UNESCO as a valuable contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. He has taught this curriculum at universities, ecovillages and community centres in Brazil, Spain and Scotland.

Janine BenyusJanine Benyus is known worldwide for her influence in naming the practice of biomimicry in her seminal book, “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature,” and for her work in shaping the practice as an innovation tool that can solve some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. She is the co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8, the world's leading bio-inspired consultancy, and The Biomimicry Institute, a nonprofit that empowers people to create nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet. Undoubtedly the most recognized thought leader in the field, Janine’s legacy includes inspiring millions through her work as an innovator, speaker, and as a biologist at the design table, where she has helped companies like Boeing, Colgate-Palmolive, and General Electric solve their most vexing problems using 3.8 billion years worth of brilliant, time-tested solutions.


£ 2 200.00
NOTE: Course fees include all vegetarian meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions. The programme will run from Monday of the first week to Friday afternoon the last week, and includes twenty nights private accommodation from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure. This course is an elective on our Economics for Transition postgraduate programme. It is open to external participants who would like to deeply explore this subject material and who can join us for the whole three-week programme.