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Transitioning to an Ecological Civilisation: East

£ 1 990.00
Course fee includes all tuition, accommodation, meals and fields trips in the module in China and the on-line study circle.
Please note, it does not include travel to and from China, personal travel insurance, visa fees, or any personal incidental expenses. The residential Module in China starts from Beijing and ends in Chengdu. Arrangements for participants to return to Beijing at the end of the programme can be organised for an additional fee of £150.

Travel to various locations in China (Beijing, Chongqing and Chengdu Province), in collaboration with the Institute of Rural Reconstruction at Southwest University where you will experience first-hand the culture and ecology of China and have an opportunity to dialogue with intellectuals and activists about what creating an ecological civilisation means in contemporary China. We will visit inspiring projects as well as exploring the cultural and ecological roots to traditional Chinese wisdom rooted in Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism.  Participants will be introduced to the ancient holistic philosophy and practice of cultivating inner strength for outer action and have the unique opportunity to visit sacred places and monasteries related to modern day practices of these ancient holistic traditions.

Participants will explore the New Rural Reconstruction Movement and its one hundred year history.  This is the biggest yet peaceful social movement in China with several organisations and tens of thousands of volunteers.  The movement provides an alternative to American capitalism and Russian socialism and grows out of a strong intellectual and social heritage that has particular relevance to creating an ecological civilisation in contemporary China. 

The learning journey will take place in 3 locations.  In Beijing we will learn about the political, economic, social and cultural evolution based on Chinese history and crises we have experienced.  We will be introduced to Chinese holistic philosophy about life, in connection with society and nature. 

We will then take a slow train journey through central China to Chongqing in the Southwest.  Here we will explore the values and ideas underpinning the new rural reconstruction movement (and its rich history) and visit projects to see what it looks like in practice – from small scale renewable energy technologies to community supported agriculture. 

The third and final part of our journey takes place in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.  Here we will explore the cultural and ecological origins of traditional Chinese wisdom rooted in Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism.  Participants will be introduced to the ancient holistic philosophy and practice of cultivating inner strength for outer action. We will have a rare opportunity to visit sacred places and monasteries related to modern day practice of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism and consider what these holistic practices and methodologies can mean for the evolution to an ecological civilisation.

This is an educational experience that will appeal to community activists, NGO’s, students, researchers, policy makers and entrepreneurs interested in cross-cultural dialogue;  exchanging holistic theory and practice east and west, towards creating a global movement transitioning to an ecological civilisation.

The following areas will be included:

  • Exploring current and historical crises in China
  • Mapping the story of rural reconstruction as a social movement towards transitioning to an ecological civilisation
  • Field visits to local rural reconstruction projects and participating in rural life
  • Experiencing participatory processes with village groups (including seasonal calendars linking with climate change; and dream mapping)
  • Dialogue with intellectuals and activists in the Rural Reconstruction Movement
  • Re-valuing indigenous culture and traditional knowledge and its links to ancient ecological and holistic thinking and practices rooted in Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism
  • Experiencing holistic practices for inner cultivation (such as calligraphy, TaiQi, and traditional tea ceremonies)
  • Visiting sacred landscapes; holistic and ecological technologies and community living at an Eco-Taoist Monastery in the Qingcheng Mountains
  • Synthesis, dialogue and sharing towards creating an ecological civilisation: East and West
  • Developing seeds for new transition inspired initiatives in your own area

On Line Study:

  • Preparatory readings and resources
  • Steps and resources for setting up a project in your own area
  • Developing action plans for project development
  • On-line study, films and discussion forum
  • Peer to peer support


Julie Richardson
Julie has taught ecological economics and international development at the Universities of London and Sussex and has worked in sustainable development for over 20 years in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. This experience changed her view of ‘development’ – believing there is much we can learn from the wisdom of other cultures about sustainable livelihoods and restoring healthy relationship between human society and nature. Julie has created a synthesis between modern holistic science (including systems thinking and complexity science) and ancient holistic thinking in China to explore what health and wholeness means at different levels of scale (individual, community and planetary).   She is currently interested in exploring the links between modern holistic science and indigenous holistic science to explore what this means in practice for creating an ecological civilisation, east and west.

Professor Wen Tiejun
Executive Dean of the Institute of Advanced Studies of Sustainability of Renmin University of China, Beijing; the Institute of Rural Reconstruction of China, Southwest University, Chongqing; and the Institute of Rural Reconstruction of the Straits, Fujiang Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou. He is a renowned expert on sustainability, agrarian issues, policy studies, macro-economics, south-south cooperation, and inclusive growth.  He has published many books and articles including ‘Ecological Civilisation, Indigeneous Culture and Rural Reconstruction in China (Monthly Review, February 2012).


Mr. Li Shouli
Shouli Li comes from Qingzhou City, Shandong Province. He graduated from the China Agricultural University in 1991. He also had held a number of positions such as the Dean of the International Institute of IChing, the Vice Director of I Ching and Architecture Committee, the first President of Qingzhou Buddhist Association, the Honorary President of Qingzhou Mencius Mother Academy. Mr. Li has been deeply nurtured by Chinese traditional culture since his early age, and he has immersed himself in studying Chinese traditional culture for more than thirty years. He has been reviving theauthentic orthodox of Chinese traditions; reconstructing pedagogy in studying the original meanings of Chinese classics; he supports the syncretism of metaphysics and physics, and he also pursues the Using ideology. He has profound attainments in various traditional cultural subjects such as the Zhouyi study, Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, numerology, geomancy, and the Qi Men.

Zhang Lanying
Zhang Lanying is Executive Deputy Dean of the Institute of Rural Reconstruction of China, Southwest University, Chongqing; and Director of Liangshuming Rural Reconstruction Center, Beijing. She started her career in the field of social development work in the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction in 1992 and took the challenge of establishing ActionAid in China as the country director for ActionAid International in 2002, where she developed, managed and implemented projects, training/workshops and study programs in the area of sustainable agriculture, environmental education, health education and participatory development approach promotion.


Dr SIT Tsui, Margaret Jade
Associate Professor of the Institute of Rural Reconstruction of China, Southwest University, Chongqing, China. Her research areas include globalization, rural reconstruction, and cultural studies. She is board member of Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives (ARENA-UK)


Zheng Bing is from the indigenous people from Zhaizi Village, Shanxi Province. She is now the Chief Director of Puhan Farmer’s Association. In 1998, she left her job as a Chinese literature teacher in a rural school and turned to lead her villagers to regenerate their villagein a comprehensive way of development. The confidence and happiness of life is her highest value. She sees her work in the service of the village and to create profitable activities to self sustain the development of the association and village. Today, her service focuses on sustaining village life, which includes rural finance, collective buying and selling, children’s education, community elderlycare, traditional hand craft practice and growing the farmer association as a comprehensive farmer’s cooperative.


Liu Yingsheng
LiuYinsheng was born in 1942, Caijiagang Town, Chongqing. He was former a middle school teacher. After retiring 30 years ago, he returned to his home to establish the Bayu Agriculture Museum. He collected thousands of agriculture tools in Bayu area and wrote over 1000 short poems to accompany the exhibits. Through his community work, he has been mapping and painting the former life in the local area. His hope is to sustain the traditional life of the town and make the exhibits and poems as a contribution to living history.

East-West Dialogues Workshop in Beijing: Option

There is an option to participate in a two-day workshop ‘East-West Dialogues’ in Beijing on 3-4 July 2017 for an additional fee of £200.  ‘East – West Dialogues’ is a participatory workshop to explore the synergies between traditional Chinese culture, contemporary Western holism, and applications in modern life.   Further information will be posted at a later date. Fee:  £200: This is a special reduced fee for participants on the Transitioning to an Ecological Civilisation Programme. It covers workshop fee, accommodation and meals.  It does not cover transport to and from the workshop in Beijing. 

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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.

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