Courses Overview >> Short courses >> The Great Work – Science, Consciousness, Jurisprudence and Ethics

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The Great Work – Science, Consciousness, Jurisprudence and Ethics

With Stephan Harding, Sean Kelly, Hal White, and Michael DeMaria

£ 795.00
Course fees include all meals, Earth Talk ticket, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions.
The programme will run from Monday to Friday afternoon, and includes four 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. We recommend attending this course as a fully residential participant however for you may choose to book as a non-residential participant. Please call 01803 847237 for more details.

With Stephan Harding, Sean Kelly, Hal White, and Isabel Carlisle

Critical planetary boundaries are being transgressed and most scientists and thinkers now agree that planet Earth, or Gaia, is potentially in great peril.

Yet the development of a Gaian consciousness and an ecological ethics, informed by Gaia theory and new scientific paradigms, offers us the chance to bring in the Ecozoic Era as foretold by Thomas Berry as a period when ‘humans would dwell upon the Earth in a mutually enhancing manner’. This era would be brought into being by what Thomas Berry called the Great Work – the bringing together of the stories of community, Earth and the Universe – preventing the widespread ecocide that has been so long feared.

Join leading theorists in Conscious Evolution, Depth Ecology, Gaia Theory, Metalaw, and Earth Jurisprudence to help advance a new synthesis from which this Great Work can be accomplished in practice as well as in theory.  

This course will explore the scientific basis of Gaia theory in the context of its implications for the evolution of human consciousness. It will examine how a change in consciousness, or “metanoia,” can bring about a healthy and sustainable form of human industry and human civilization, the “Great Work” of the 21st Century. How does thinking of our planet as a living entity affect our relationship to the natural world? How can understanding the deep, sensitive interdependence of all life and of nature influence our science, ethics, and jurisprudence so as to forward the hopeful outcome we seek?

These issues will be discussed and engaged from philosophical, psychological, scientific, legal, artistic, and mythopoeic perspectives. We will look at Joseph Campbell’s call for the development of a “planetary mythology,” similar to Thomas Berry’s “Dream of the Earth,” to a call for an Earth Jurisprudence grounded in a cosmic Great Jurisprudence or ecological “Metalaw.” Along with teachings and dialogue, this course will include practices of direct experiential engagement, including the Deep Time Walk and exercises from Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects”.

A special feature will be Sean’s introduction of the class to a simple but powerful kind of standing meditation/qigong, adapted from his taiji and yiquan practice, as a way of grounding in, and resonating with, the larger body-mind of Gaia. This experiential approach will be supported by Isabel’s unique approach to a “Council of All Beings.”


Stephan Harding

Stephan Harding, Ph.D. 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 led 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 Institution, 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. See Stephan Harding's full profile >>

Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly, Ph.D. is Professor in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He has published numerous articles on Jung, Hegel, transpersonal psychology, and the new science and is the author of Coming Home: The Birth and Transformation of the Planetary Era and Individuation and the Absolute: Hegel, Jung, and the Path toward Wholeness. Sean is also co-editor of Ken Wilber in Dialogue: Conversations with Leading Transpersonal Thinkers and co-translator of French thinker Edgar Morin’s book, Homeland Earth: A Manifesto for the New Millennium. Along with his academic work, Sean has been working closely with Joanna Macy and is a facilitator of her “Work that Reconnects” (also known as “Deep Ecology Work”). Sean has also trained intensively in the Chinese internal arts (taiji, bagua, xingyi, and yiquan) and has been teaching taiji since 1990. See:

Hal White

Hal White, J.D. is University Professor of Ethics, Law and Policy at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, where he served as Executive Vice President from 2002-2010. He was formerly Acting Attorney General and Chief of International Law for the Federated States of Micronesia, for whom he served as a Delegate to the United Nations and as Plenary to the Third Preparatory Conference on Global Warming and Sea Level Rise to the Rio Earth Summit. He is also former Special Deputy Attorney General of North Carolina. A pioneer in the field of Space Law, he is a member of the International Institute of Space Law and co-author, with George S. Robinson, of Envoys of Mankind: A Declaration of First Principles for the Governance of Space Societies, nominated for a Pulitzer by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and one of the first works to develop the new theory of Metalaw, a kind of cosmic Great Jurisprudence grounded by the First Law of Ecology. He has taught legal philosophy for many years and also teaches in the fields of communication theory and mythic studies, melding the works of theorists like Marshall McLuhan, Joseph Campbell, Thomas Berry, Robert Muller, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in his Honors seminars in Metalaw at the University of West Florida. A former Visiting Fellow in Earth Jurisprudence at Schumacher College, Hal recently co-authored The Emergence of Earth Jurisprudence with Stephan Harding. See: and

Isabel Carlisle

Isabel Carlisle is Education Coordinator for Transition Network, leads the team that is bringing the South Devon Bioregional Learning Centre into being, and is co-founder of the Community Chartering Network.

After a long career in the art world (art critic for The Times, deputy head of exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts, initiator and director of The Festival of Muslim Cultures 2006) Isabel moved into education and designed and delivered creative responses to sustainability with schools in the east end of London. In 2010 she moved to Totnes and is a trustee of Transition Town Totnes.

In 2013 she taught a short course at Schumacher College (Voices for the Earth) with Polly Higgins. The course brought the Falkirk Community Charter into existence and Isabel is now working with St Ives in Cornwall on a similar Community Charter, a process that empowers local communities to become stewards of their eco-systems and have a voice in their long-term economic future.

Isabel is establishing a Bioregional Learning Centre in South Devon to address the systemic problems in making our food, water, energy, waste and transport systems resilient for the future. She is also replicating One Year in Transition (the livelihood creation programme that she created for change-agents aged between 20 and 35) with Transition hubs across Europe.


With Stephan Harding, Sean Kelly, Hal White, and Michael DeMaria

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