Courses Overview >> Short courses >> The Ecological Self - 2018

The Ecological Self - 2018

Course dates: 
Monday, 5 February, 2018 to Friday, 23 February, 2018

We understand that this course is a significant time commitment for some and so we have secured funding for bursaries up to a third of the cost of this course. Learn More and Apply

With Eve Annecke, Stephan Harding, Johan Hattingh, Andy Letcher and guests

Join four inspirational teacher as you explore what it means to be human. Who are we in nature? How do we belong? This three week intensive course looks at the transitions we make in life, the ways we connect with other than human worlds and how we approach socioecological ethics. 

About This Course

Who am I? What does it mean to be human in a relational, participative universe? How do I belong, connecting through the illusion of separateness and fragmented realities? Who am I in nature? In this course, an Ecological Self is a journey that attempts to con-nect the inner and the outer investigations of being, seeing and knowing rooted in na-ture. Connecting in a living universe is explored through the interests of the participants in psychology, science, different spiritualities and philosophy.

Week 1: Transitions

Ecology and the sacred are in many cultures made present through attention to large and small life transitions. Significant moments of change in everyday life are frequently opportunities for evolutionary shifts. Conception, birth, moments in childhood, becom-ing adolescent, initiations into adulthood, tiny often invisible moments in daily living, celebrating changes in season and moon cycles, ways of being men and women in a world in crisis, death, loss and grief - all these, and many more, are about transitions in complex spaces where ecology and spirit meet.

Week 2: The Evolution of Consciousness

We live mostly within the narrow ambit our of limited conscious minds.  But the depth psychology of Jung and others has shown that our consciousness can expand so that we become aware of  the greater psyche of the world in which we are embedded – this is what the Norwegian philosopher/mountaineer Arne Naess called the ‘ecological self’.   During this week we’ll work both cognitively and experientially with the concept of deep ecology as articulated by Naess as a way of expanding our awareness so that the eco-logical self can transform and expand our limited everyday consciousness, even if for just a brief moment.  We’ll explore Naess’s concept of ‘wide identification’  and how this facilitates the appearance of the ecological self within our direct experience.   We’ll look at three core senses of the word ‘deep’ in deep ecology, and will use these to begin to explore and uncover our own personal ‘ecosophy’ or ecological wisdom based on our deep experience of belonging to nature and on our own personal connection be-tween our conscious minds and the wider ecological self where the soul of nature seems to reside.   One aim of this work is to help us to commit to practical action in the world consistent with the deep experiences given to us by the ecological self.  In addition, we connect with a specific aspect of nature by exploring what living plants can teach us about our ecological self.

Week 3: Socioecological ethics

"If reality is experienced by the ecological Self, our behavior naturally and beautifully follows norms of strict environmental ethics. We certainly need to hear about our ethical shortcomings from time to time, but we change more easily through encouragement and a deepened perception of reality and our own self, that is, through a deepened realism.” Arne Naess

In a world of artificial intelligence, biogenetics, and very powerful interests at play, un-derstanding and learning to critically think through different ethical models and value systems that underpin socioecologically responsible action may be one of the most sig-nificant ways of manifesting an ecological self in connected, useful ways. This theme explores: underlying ethical value systems of different approaches to leading and exer-cising a sound environmental ethics; philosophical models for conceptualising ecological challenges and why understanding these enables pragmatic action in deeply sensitive contexts of socioecological conflict; and the relationship between environmental and social ethics.

Ways of learning within this course will emerge from the group itself, and include the place of Dartington, connecting with nature, story, walking, art, movement, short vigil, pilgrimage and walking anthropologies. Connecting with place, on all the issues that this deceptively simple concept presents, creates untold opportunities for leading transitions through a lightness of being grounded in intimacy. An intensive that brings together the-ory and practice, critical thinking and direct experience, as we work together to ask, and hopefully find answers to, some of the core questions on what it means to connect with all life. In this deep winter inquiry, you will be joined by a number of students from Schumacher College's postgraduate programme in Ecology and Spirituality which will al-low for rich interaction and discussion. This course is held at the Elmhirst Centre, next to the Dartington Hall.


Eve Annecke

Eve Annecke is a teacher, writer, and social ecologist. She works in transformative learning, exploring what it means to be human in the 21st century. In South Africa she co-founded Lynedoch Development, the Sustainability Institute and the Lynedoch EcoVillage. Her masters’ level teaching at Stellenbosch University is in sustainable development, leading transitions, ecological ethics and other ways of knowing. She is the co-author of Just Transitions: explorations of sustainability in an unfair world (2012). Her work at Schumacher College includes as participant, facilitator and teacher in Becoming Indigenous, and the MA in Ecology and Spirituality.

Dr Stephan Harding FLS

Stephan Harding

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.

Johan Hattingh

Johan Hattingh

Johan Hattingh is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa since 2003. From 2006 till 2011 he served for two terms as vice Dean for Social Sciences of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University, and from 2013 till the end of 2017 as Dean. Based at this university since 1980 he specializes in Applied Ethics, Ideology Critique, Development Ethics, and particularly in Environmental Ethics and Climate Change Ethics. With more than 65 academic publications to his credit, and about 70 papers at academic conferences, he finds it fascinating to work at the interface of theory and practice in the analysis of value disputes in the context of policy formulation and environmental decision-making. In his current research and international advocacy in collaboration with UNESCO, he focuses on the problem of integrating ethical considerations in global, regional and national responses to climate change.

Dr Andy Letcher

Dr Andy Letcher is writer, performer and scholar of religion who began life as an ecologist, completing his D.Phil in Ecology at Oxford University. After a spell as an environmental activist during the 90s, especially during the anti-roads protests, he moved across to the humanities, completing a PhD at King Alfred’s College Winchester. He is an expert on contemporary alternative spiritualities, especially modern Paganism, neo-shamanism and psychedelic spiritualities. A writer known for his critical approach, he is the author of Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom and a range of academic papers on subjects as diverse as fairies, animism, folklore, bardism and Druidry. He wrote the companion volume to The English Magic Tarot. A folk musician, he plays English bagpipes and Dark Age lyre, and for ten years fronted psych-folk band, Telling the Bees.

£ 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 part of Schumacher College's MA Ecology and Spirituality postgraduate programme. It is open to external participants who would like to deeply explore this subject material and can join us for the whole three-week programme.