Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Traditional Wisdom and Culture Transformation in China

Traditional Wisdom and Culture Transformation in China

Key Info: 
  • Visit sacred landscapes, holistic and ecological technologies and community living at an Eco-Taoist Monastery
  • Develop seeds for new transition inspired initiatives in your own area
  • Experience holistic practices for inner cultivation (such as calligraphy, TaiQi, and traditional tea ceremonies)
  • Dialogue with intellectuals and activists in the Rural Reconstruction Movement
£ 1 570.00
Reserve your place for only £150.00 deposit. The course fee includes all tuition, accommodation, meals and field trips. It does not cover: travel to China or incidental expenses.
It also does not include travel to and from the residential modules, personal travel and health insurance, visa fees, or any personal incidental expenses. The programme starts from Beijing and ends in Chengdu, China. Arrangements for participants to return to Beijing at the end of the programme can be organised for an additional fee of £150.

Learning journey from October 23 to November 3, 2018 in Beijing and Chengdu, China 

“A clear vision of the developing strategy of current China helps to clarify how to fine tune my own purpose with the grand development trend”.

Explore the New Rural Reconstruction Movement and its one hundred year history. This is the biggest yet peaceful social movement in China comprising several organizations 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 civilization in contemporary China.

The learning journey will take place in 2 locations. In Beijing we will learn about the political, economic, social and cultural evolution based on Chinese history and crises we have experienced. You 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 Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in the Southwest. 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 civilization.

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 civilization.

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 civilization
- 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 civilization: East and West
- Developing seeds for new transition inspired initiatives in your own area

Previous participants on this programme have said:

“It has helped bring together different strands of personal interest. Has also strengthened my understanding of being in the present, listening and allowing things to arise”.

“(I learned that) there are certainly people working in China to elaborate an eco-philosophy. It gives hope that at least in some parts of the world, these are prioritized matters!”

How To Apply for the Programme

Reserve your place for only £150.00 deposit or paying the full fee using the Book Now button.

Once we have received your reservation through our booking system, please fill out a short medical form

The course fee includes all tuition, accommodation, meals and field trips.  It does not cover travel to China, travel insurance or incidental expenses.  This course is delivered at several locations in China, organised by Southwest University. Please note that the course will be offered in English.  Some informal interpretation may be offered and limited materials will be available in Chinese.  To be able to fully participate in the programme, a standard of English of ELS6.5 (or equivalent) is highly recommended. Please see our Terms and Conditions for the Transformation in China programme.

For more information about this programme, please contact

*The Booking Deadline gives us an accurate idea of course participant numbers at approximately 6 weeks before the course is due to run, at which point we confirm the course, add additional time for people to book on or cancel the course. We encourage people to register early for courses as places are limited.

Julie Richardson

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 applied systems thinking and complexity science to different aspects of sustainability – including sustainable design, organizational change and environmental policy. The Landscope project at Dartington arose out of this work to demonstrate industrial ecology in practice.

Zhang Lanying

Zhang Lanying


Zhang Lanying is the Executive Deputy Dean of the Institute of Rural Reconstruction of China, Southwest University, Chongqing; 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.

Professor Wen Tiejun

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 Civilization, Indigenous Culture and Rural Reconstruction in China (Monthly Review, February 2012).

Kim Jae Hyung

Kim Jae Hyung has worked in the farmer movement for many years. He established a home-stay school in 2002, South Korea and Gaia Nature School in 2015, Shanghai. His teaching about the I Ching (The Book of Change) is very unique,  based on his rich personal life experience.   He uses contemporary language to enable people to understand this most ancient classic text in China and use it as tool for introspection.

Hu Kanping

Director of Research Department of China Ecological Civilization Research and Promotion Association. He has worked in the media sector in the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China, including the China Green Times where he was the Chief Editor, and with the Environment Protection Magazine as the executive vice-director. He is also a supervisor of many environmental NGO and Foundations, such as WWF, Global Greengrants Fund, Friend of Nature, Saunders gull Conservation Society and Green Watershed.

Wen Li

Wen Li was born and grew up in Dujiangyan. She works for the local government in the Religious Department for more than 20 years. Because of her passionate love for the town and Taoist culture, she has done lots of practical research on how to apply traditional wisdom and modern social psychology to transformative education. She is currently a researcher in the Student Development Research Centre in Polus College.

Master Wu

Master Wu is a Taoist practitioner in the Qingcheng Mountain. He introduces himself as a monk who practices ‘wu-wei’. Wu-wei literally means non-doing – living life in harmony with the Tao in a natural way.  This platform is open to all. Come or go, take it or not, as you wish.

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.

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

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.