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Masters Degrees (Permaculture)

We have 2 Masters Degrees (Permaculture)

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Are you dismayed, disturbed and totally disenchanted with what is happening to the only real planetary home we have? So are we. But are you also excited by the opportunities and prospects this opens up for us to create a better, brighter and more beautiful world? So are we. Read more

Are you dismayed, disturbed and totally disenchanted with what is happening to the only real planetary home we have? So are we.

But are you also excited by the opportunities and prospects this opens up for us to create a better, brighter and more beautiful world? So are we.

Then join us in this innovative new postgraduate programme from Schumacher College in collaboration with the School of Architecture, Design and Environment at Plymouth University, the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University, the Dartington Hall Trust and surrounding communities.

Ecological Design Thinking

Never has there been a more important time for a new approach for engaging with the challenging situations we face from the local to the global levels. In a rapidly changing dynamic situation, solutions rarely remain optimal for very long and continuous active participation is a necessary ingredient for success. Growing resilience in individuals and communities is the way to keep going despite the continuous change around us.

Our programme in Ecological Design Thinking embraces and explores this complex world of interactions with lively engagement and an optimistic approach. It offers powerful, practical and ecology-centred skills and knowledge to apply to a diverse range of practices from design, education and business to the more specific roles of leadership, management and consultancy.

The Ecological Design Thinking programme is trans-disciplinary, insightful and universal in its application; pragmatic and integrative in its operation. It brings together theoretical and practical discourses on ecologically inspired design, with methods of design thinking that are merged with the latest developments in anthropology, psychology and socio- political economics. It aims to create a novel ground for change makers at the forefront of our transition to sustainable societies.

Ecologically inspired design includes the study of ecological worldviews, systems dynamics and applied complexity theory alongside the philosophies and practices of permaculture and biomimetic design.

Design thinking is a well-established participatory technique grounded in the empathic understanding of the feelings, experiences and emotions of others. It engages people in lively conversations, visually stimulated interactions and playful prototyping. It frames problems as opportunities, forms insights and generates creative and collaborative solutions in complex situations.

The Ecological Design thinking programme aims to provide a nourishing environment for participants by incorporating short-courses led by internationally recognised thinkers, place-making projects in collaboration with the Dartington Hall Trust, the home of Schumacher College, and short placements offered by external partner organisations.

This programme is the fourth radical postgraduate programme developed at Schumacher College and contributes to and enhance the College’s ongoing collaborative inquiry into sustainable living – a live and networked inquiry of practice underway around the world by the College’s 20,000 alumni and others.

Who is this course for?

We would be delighted to receive your application whether you are coming directly from an undergraduate degree, taking time-out to study mid-career or wanting an opportunity to develop your understanding of a practice that is of great importance to all of our futures. We encourage applications from community practitioners and activists as well as planners, educators, architects, politicians and policy makers. You do not necessarily need a first degree in design to apply for this course. You only need to be enthusiastic, resilient and committed.

We are looking for enthusiastic agents of change who are ready to co-design new approaches to the way we live that are socially just and ecologically sustainable. We are looking for those prepared to take risks and stand on the cutting-edge of new practices in this area.

Schumacher College welcomes students from all over the world in a diverse mix of cultural experience and age that allows for rich peer- to- peer learning.

You Will Learn

  • The foundation of an ecological worldview through subjects such as ecology, deep ecology, systems thinking, complexity science and Gaia theory.
  • Living systems principles through the philosophy and practice of permaculture design, biophilia and biomimicry.
  • Creative and process-focused problem solving techniques by applying the methods and principles of design thinking
  • A multi-perspective appreciation of ethical issues and their implications for the future consequences of redesigning existing systems and creating new ones.
  • To apply ecological design thinking knowledge and skills to the design of social systems as a part of an emerging new economics
  • Personal and group enquiry practices to raise awareness of the interdependent relationship between the individual, society and nature and between theory and practice
  • Co-creative participatory practices and theoretical principles for new approaches to the ecological design process that include a range of stakeholders in the full lifecycle of projects, and you will apply these both in the studio, on the Dartington Hall Estate and in short placements on live projects

Special Features

An interdisciplinary programme integrating design methods with those of ecology and the social sciences.

An integrative design programme rooted in deep ecological understanding and practice and informed by cutting edge thinking in new economic approaches and social dynamics.

A balanced distribution of time and resources on skill-based and cognitive-based knowledge and between practice and theory.

Access to some of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners in design, Gaia theory, complexity, climate science, systems thinking, new economics and social change.

Short courses led by internationally recognised thinkers and researchers.

Short practical placements with a range of partner organisations operating at the leading edge of social innovation.

An immersive, integrative and transformational teaching and learning approach rooted in the principles established by Schumacher College and Dartington Hall, and engaged in a living and working community on and around the Dartington Estate in Devon.

Where you will go?

Ecological Design Thinking can be applied to a wide range of contexts, from the personal to the societal. This programme aims to create a new generation of designers, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, educators, researchers, consultants and activists. Graduates will have the skills and knowledge to work for sustainable change in the public and private sectors as well as in civil society, or to set up their own projects or organisations that will contribute to the transformation of society.



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As a cultivated form of invention, design shapes, modifies and alters the world around us for better or worse, and the need for modern design to be more sustainable and ethically responsible has never been more important. Read more

As a cultivated form of invention, design shapes, modifies and alters the world around us for better or worse, and the need for modern design to be more sustainable and ethically responsible has never been more important.

Many multinational companies, research centres, governments and individuals acknowledge that a change in attitude to the way we design products, spaces, communications and communities is a positive step and long overdue. Indeed, over the last 10 years, commercial understanding of sustainable design has transformed, shifting from being about risk and compliance to a dynamic leadership issue.

Our Sustainable Design MA helps you to rethink the parameters of good design in an unsustainable age. Working alongside experts in ecology, psychology, design and business, you will gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to focus your practice and become a more effective agent of change.

Why study with us?

  • Interdisciplinary approach to sustainable design that incorporates ideas from ecology, psychology and business with a balance of theory and practice
  • Campus in one of Europe's most progressive and creative cities
  • World-renowned staff, including sustainable design expert Professor Jonathan Chapman
  • Guest lecturers from industry including Louis Joseph (head of global strategy at Puma), Richard Gilbert (director of The Agency for Design) and Oliver Heath (founder of OH Designs)
  • Diverse student body with backgrounds in graphic design, illustration, architecture, fashion, education, politics and product design (introduce yourself on our Sustainable Design Facebook group)

Making sure that what you learn with us is relevant, up to date and what employers are looking for is our priority, so courses are reviewed and enhanced on an ongoing basis. When you have applied to us, you’ll be told about any new developments through our applicant portal.

Areas of study

Sustainable Design: Present(s)

Semester one, 20 credits

You start with a foundation in sustainable design principles, theories and methodologies. Themes include cradle to cradle, low-carbon building and production, design for recycling, biodegradability, biomimicry, alternative energy, ecological thinking, permaculture, and disassembly.

Research Methods

Semester one, 20 credits

This module gives you an overview of design research methods and how they are used in professional practice. It enables you to construct the kind of research questions, hypotheses and methodologies that underpin innovative design, as you develop a more autonomous position in the process of critical inquiry.

Studio

Semesters one and two, 60 credits

The Studio module spans two projects – ‘Behaviours’ and ’Matters’. The Behaviours project takes place in semester one and provides you with a theoretical context for the studio-based investigation, analysis and generation of essential design criteria that shape patterns of consumption.

In semester two, you undertake the Matters project, a studio-based experience that places emphasis on materiality and the nature of physical experience as mediated through the design, production and physical manifestation of things.

Sustainable Design: Future(s)

Semester two, 20 credits

This module takes the form of a series of seminars, workshops and discussion groups where specialist practitioners, writers, researchers, manufacturers and theorists present their work on sustainability. It covers themes including consumer motivation, behaviour, phenomenology, deep ecology, temporality, consciousness, emotional durability, materiality, defuturing and experience-authoring.

Master

Semester three, 60 credits

The Master project represents the culmination of your work throughout the course. It allows you to apply all of the experiences and skills that you have accumulated, as you choose an area of sustainable design that you want to pursue in detail.

You work is structured by an individually defined 'statement of intent' that provides the framework through which you will be assessed. This process enables you to explore distinctive areas of expertise with a unique approach to the ubiquitous issues of sustainability and design.

The final body of master work must be developed through practices relevant to you and your statement of intent. These might include the development and production of design proposals, a written thesis, a documentary, an ad campaign, an article for a leading publication, a touring exhibition or a combination of the above.

Our studio

From 2016, students will work in the new Masters Centre, which provides studio, seminar and tutorial space for all postgraduate students in the School of Architecture and Design.

Students on MA Sustainable Design will have dedicated studio space with access to workshop and digital model making facilities. More specialised materials and making requirements can be supported on an individual basis with colleagues in engineering, crafts and arts.

Careers and employability

After graduation, many students secure influential positions within major global businesses, charities and NGOs. Previous students include:

  • a product designer for Thammasorn in Bangkok, Thailand
  • an assistant professor at Suwon Science College in Hwasung, South Korea
  • a media designer at AKT II
  • a sessional lecturer at the University for the Creative Arts
  • a designer at the Graphic Thought Facility
  • a media producer at Paper Tiger Television
  • a design and technology teacher at Brighton and Hove College
  • a lecturer at Petra University in Amman, Jordan
  • creative head at Archeng Designers
  • a BIM engineer at CC
  • a senior sustainability advisor at Forum for the Future.

A number of our students establish independent design agencies, social innovation labs and research centres. Many decide to continue their research in the form of a PhD, and have a particularly strong record of achieving fully funded studentships, both here at Brighton and internationally.



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