Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Transitioning to an Ecological Civilisation: West

Status message

This event has now passed

Transitioning to an Ecological Civilisation: West

Julie Richardson, Rob Hopkins, Sophy Banks and Stephan Harding

£ 1 990.00
Course fees include all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions.
The programme will run from Monday to Friday afternoon, and includes ten nights private accommodation and all vegetarian meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure. This course is expected to be held at The Old Postern.

Transitioning to an Ecological Civilisation: West

Explore the global and local story of the Transition Network as a participatory social movement, with its roots in ecological thinking in the West. Transition Towns are community led responses to climate change, peak oil and financial and economic instability and inequality. The module will explore the philosophy and values of the great transition and will include field trips to local transition and related initiatives in the Southwest of England. There will be opportunities for participants to work on their own and in groups about developing ideas and plans for seeding new transition inspired initiatives in their own area.

Meet with community activists and social entrepreneurs and visit inspiring projects that have emerged from the local community in response to climate change, peak oil and economic instability and inequality.  Together, we will experience inner transition and community participation processes to cultivate empowering, engaging, creative and enjoyable ways of being together as part of the transition.

After the residential week at Schumacher College, you will continues on-line, where you will be invited to further study and be supported in creating your own initiative inspired by the transition movement.

The following areas will be included:

  • Exploring what is wrong with the current economic system and why we need a great transition
  • Mapping the global story of the transition town movement with its origins in the UK
  • Applying ecological principles towards creating an ecological civilisation
  • Connecting the inner and outer journey of transition
  • Experiencing social engagement and community participation methods
  • Field trips to transition town and related initiatives in the local area (including community supported agriculture; community land trusts; and community renewable energy services cooperatives)

On Line Study:

  • Developing seeds for new transition initiatives in your own area
  • Preparatory readings and resources
  • Steps and resources for setting up a transition inspired project in your own area
  • 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. 

Related publications in this area include:  Richardson et al, (2011) Resilient Economics in Harding S. (ed) Grow Small, Think Beautiful: Ideas for a Sustainable World from Schumacher College;  Richardson J. and Fleming R. (2006)  How can holistic science inform environmental policy making?; Richardson J. (2005),  ‘Ancient Insights into the Modern Organisation’ in Richardson K (ed) Managing Organisational Complexity:  Philosophy, Theory and Application..  ISCE Managing the Complex, Book Series.  IAP Press, Connecticut and Richardson J. ( 2002), ‘Checking the pulse: how healthy is your organization?’  Journal of Organisations and People, Vol 9(4). The Quarterly Journal of AMED.

Rob Hopkins

Rob is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes (link is external) and of the Transition Network (link is external). This grew out of many years experience in education, teaching permaculture and natural building, and setting up the first 2 year full-time permaculture course in the world, at Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland, as well as co-ordinating the first eco-village development in Ireland to be granted planning permission.

He is author of The Transition Handbook: from oil dependence to local resilience (link is external), which has been published in a number of other languages, and which was voted the 5th most popular book taken on holiday by MPs during the summer of 2008, and of ‘The Transition Companion: making your community more resilient in uncertain times’, published in October 2011. He publishes the blog (link is external) (link is external), recently voted ‘the 4th best green blog in the UK’(!). He was the winner of the 2008 Schumacher Award, is an Ashoka Fellow and a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, served 3 years as a Trustee of the Soil Association, and was named by the Independent as one of the UK’s top 100 environmentalists.

He is the winner of the 2009 Observer Ethical Award for the Grassroots Campaigner category, and in December 2009 was voted the Energy Saving Trust/Guardian’s ‘Green Community Hero’. He lectures and writes widely on peak oil and Transition, holds an MSc in Social Research and recently completed a PhD at the University of Plymouth entitled ‘Localisation and resilience at the local level: the case of Transition Town Totnes’. He lives in Devon and grows food for his family.

Sophy Banks

In 2006 Sophy helped to set up the first “Heart and Soul” group of the newly forming Transition Town Totnes (link is external) project, the first experiment in a movement which many thousands of communities globally have tried in some from. Since then she has trained people around the world in the model and process of the Transition movement, which is unusual in combining outer change with deep reflection and insights from many inner traditions. Sophy has backgrounds in science, psychotherapy and family constellations, as well as playing a lot of football with other women in East London.



Stephan Harding

Coordinator and Senior Lecturer - Holistic Science / Estate Ecologist.

Stephan oversees the MSc in Holistic Science, teaching on the core models and as part of several of the short courses at the College. Stephan was born in Venezuela in 1953, and came to England at the age of six with his father and housekeeper, with whom he spoke Spanish (his mother tongue).  Since childhood Stephan has had a deep fascination with the natural world, and his scientific cast of mind lead him to do a degree in Zoology at the University of Durham and then a doctorate on the behavioural ecology of the muntjac deer at Oxford University. After completing his first degree he returned to Venezuela where he was a field assistant for the Smithsonian Institute, studying mammalian diversity in the rainforest and in the lowland plains. After Oxford Stephan was appointed Visiting Professor in Wildlife Management at the National University in Costa Rica, where he lived for two years before becoming a founder member of Schumacher College in 1990.  The College’s first teacher was James Lovelock, with whom Stephan has maintained a long-lasting friendship and scientific collaboration that lead to their joint appointment as founding chair holders of the Arne Naess Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo.  At Schumacher College Stephan has taught alongside many of the world’s leading ecological thinkers and activists, including Arne Naess, Fritjof Capra, Vandana Shiva, David Abram, James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis.

Stephan is author of Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia. Green Books, and editor of Grow Small, Think Beautiful. Floris Books.  He is also the writer and presenter of the documentary film Animate Earth, produced by Angel TV.

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.

Julie Richardson, Rob Hopkins, Sophy Banks and Stephan Harding

If you would like to book onto one of our short courses, you will need to create an account. This is a simple process of choosing a username, email address and password. Once you have created an account you will receive a verification email. Please click on the verification link within to have full access to the site and to make your booking. (You may need to  check your spam folder if you do not see this email.)  We will email you confirmation of your payment and any further communication about your course application.

Residential accommodation for "Changing the Frame"  is at Higher Close, a 20 minute walk from Schumacher College. All meals will be provided at the college.

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.

Help & Enquiries

 Admission Enquiries
email us  
+ 44 (0) 1803 847212