Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Designing For Peace

Designing For Peace

Course dates: 
Monday, 27 November, 2017 to Friday, 1 December, 2017

With Jon Young, Deborah Benham, Root Cuthbertson 

This course will take place at the Elmhirst Centre of Dartington Hall.

Have you ever had a conflict in a relationship, with a co-worker or a family member? Perhaps this has been based on a difference in style which has resulted in tensions and misunderstandings. Many of us have heard about or experienced directly an escalation of disharmony that led to a project’s outright collapse. All too often, the difficulties in our human relationships create the biggest challenges in our lives. And many relationships, important projects, and well-intentioned groups fail because they don’t have the tools to transform conflict into creativity, trust, and collaboration. We can, however, consciously design peaceful, supportive, and resilient social systems.

In this week-long course, we look at ‘Designing for Peace’, a method, based on pattern language, which supports good relationships among people and the natural world. Designing for Peace supports groups of any size, from couples to large organisations, to live and work harmoniously and effectively together.  When we openly recognise the wounds that we all carry, due to historic or family trauma, we can normalise the friction that inevitably arises from our personal sensitivities. 

In this course, we will introduce simple structures to support safety, understanding, and authentic communication.  We will learn to recognise and reduce fear and shame, approaching challenging interpersonal situations with compassion and clarity.  We will learn how to create a culture of appreciation, where every person is seen, included, and valued, so everyone can thrive and grow into their true potential and brilliance.  We will tell stories from various peace-making wisdom traditions, as well as on-the-ground case studies using these practices to support healthy connection with each other.

These include:
• Cultivation of leadership; integrity of principles over personalities.
• Cultivating unity in groups, and personal peace in individuals.
• Developing clean communication processes.
• Understanding personal patterns and healing across generations.
• Anchoring processes to support stakeholders in governance.
• Putting people ahead of organisational agendas. 
• Annual renewal cycles, and monthly mini-cycles.

We aim to create foundations for strong healthy group systems, offering practical tools to address interpersonal difficulties when they arise. These proven methods have been developed from both modern and ancient lineages, including the Haudenosaunee people’s traditions descending from the work of the Peacemaker and the Tree of Peace Society.  We will provide references for further study and relate first-hand experiences from our global network of practitioners applying peace-making in modern times. 


Deborah Benham

Deborah is part of the 8 Shields Global Leadership Programme; co-founder of 8 Shields UK and a mentor to ‘Village Builders’ all over the world. She has been a student of Jon Young’s for several years and is now part of the 8 Shields strategic and design team. Deborah has a PhD in wildlife conservation, environmental education and the people/nature interface. After 15 years working in this field she moved into broader areas of regenerative culture and design for sustainability; with a particular interest in social sustainability, peacemaking and social enterprise. She was until recently Managing Director of the Newbold Trust, a retreat and education centre focusing on sustainable living and wellbeing. She is now freelance, working closely with 8 Shields; teaching, providing facilitation, consultancy, trainings and workshops in regenerative culture, sustainability, nature connection and youth empowerment. She is an experienced facilitator, and dedicated ‘Hopemonger’ who loves to create connective, uplifting and transformative programmes in support of healthy communities and ecosystems.


Jon Young

Jon’s work has been the researching, collecting, universalising and applying of models for re-Connection. For over thirty years, he has collected, tested, trained and led Connection models that have proven dependable and predictable in their effectiveness. Drawn from earth-based approaches, these models are ergonomic in their application—they are neither philosophical or based on any particular belief structure or lineage. These approaches meet us at our most basic neurological and biological foundations, and are a way of learning and development in nature that is universal to our “blueprint” as human beings.

He started studying peacemaking cultural systems as part of research starting in 1979, applying this modeling to a first project in 1983. Following this he worked directly with founding members of the Tree of Peace Society teachers and friends starting in 1990. The Tree of Peace Society was founded by traditional Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) teachers who are highly experienced peacemakers in their cultures. Alongside Ingwe (co-founder of the first project based on peacemaking and connection) and other experienced staff members we worked closely with the Tree of Peace leaders for over 10 years, developing ways to integrate peacemaking  practices and processes into the 8 Shields model in ways that apply in modern times, and are respectful to the original teachings.

Root Cuthbertson

Root Cuthbertson is currently a writer, hopemonger, and ecosocial designer with a consulting consortium delivering trainings on social sustainability and culture repair.  Since 2008 he has been a group facilitator, presenter, and wordsmith. He is the former education coordinator at the Newbold Trust (, a sustainable living and retreat centre in Forres, Scotland.  He holds a Master's degree in Environmental Education from Vermont College of Norwich University and a Certificate in Ecovillage Design from Findhorn College. He leads courses on sociocracy, designing for peace, contact improvisation dance, and has designed programs for JourneyDance™ (, Lost Valley Education Center (, Sunseed Desert Technology (, and D Acres Permaculture Farm and Educational Homestead ( With a background in theater, dance, and music, Root advocates raising awareness to regenerate resilient communities and ecosystems. His interests include cross-pollinating ideas, Non-Violent Communication, traditional celebrations, cooking & nutrition, monofloral honeys, matching needs with resources, the healing power of forgiveness, and the Art of Mentoring (

£ 595.00
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 four nights private accommodation from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure.