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Schumacher College, Full Time MA Degrees

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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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Never has there been a more important time for a new approach to economics. There is an urgent need for a radical rethink of our economic system. Read more
Never has there been a more important time for a new approach to economics.

There is an urgent need for a radical rethink of our economic system. We need new thinking and new models that recognise the challenges we face now, rather than blindly following the path that has led us into the converging crises we now face.

These models will enable us to both mitigate the impacts and adapt to these inter-locking crises – including climate change, biodiversity loss, the peaking in fossil fuel energy supplies, financial instability, food security, poverty and so on.

They will be built on an understanding of the complementarity of ecological protection and human flourishing.

For 20 years, pioneering thinkers and practitioners have been developing alternative economic ideas, models and experiments that were once considered radical and marginal.

As we turn to face a new economic dawn, these theories and practices are now moving centre stage.

"I teach at Schumacher College because of its strong link with ecological sustainability and an approach which is based on collaborative co-creation. People are not told what to do, together they co-create their ideas. It’s a fundamentally different model of education that we can learn from and apply to the economy as well as other areas of our life."
Professor Eve Mitleton-Kelly, London School of Economics

"In making the transition to a world in which we can all thrive within planetary boundaries, it is paradigm shift or bust, and nobody does paradigm shift better than Schumacher College. Its learning environment and the content of its courses make visions of a better world tangible. And, the Economics for Transition MA shows how right now we can take the first steps to get there."
Andrew Simms, Fellow of New Economics Foundation

"Schumacher College is one of the few places I know where economic questions are being asked as openly as they need to be. When I run seminars there, I learn as much as I teach."
Kate Raworth, Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute

Why Schumacher College?

Since 1991, Schumacher College has been pioneering radical new thinking in economics, attracting leading teachers, practitioners and activists from across the globe. We have inspired and supported thousands of organisations and individuals from many different countries in their quest to achieve a more sustainable and equitable world.

In 2011, in response to the deepening economic and related crises, we launched our first postgraduate programme in Economics for Transition in association with the New Economics Foundation, the Transition Network and the Business School at Plymouth University.

Now in its fourth year, this partnership offers you an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the cream of radical economic thinking, activism and entrepreneurship globally.

Hosted by highly respected radical economists, completed by an unrivalled visiting faculty of teachers and practitioners from across the world, you have a unique chance to join those at the forefront of new economic thinking.

Our teachers include:

Jonathan Dawson – Schumacher College
Tim Crabtree – Schumacher College
Stephan Harding – Schumacher College
Julie Richardson – Schumacher College
Anna Coote and Tony Greenham (link is external) – New Economics Foundation
Rob Hopkins, Jay Tompt & Sophy Banks (link is external) – Transition Network
David Bollier – co-founder of the Commons Strategies Group
Gustavo Esteva – founder of the Universidad de la Tierra
Fiona Ward – REconomy Project
Pat Conaty – NEF Fellow
Tim ‘Mac’ Macartney – Founder and CEO of Embercombe
Robin Murray – Industrial and environmental economist.
Kate Raworth – Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute
Dr. Martin Shaw – Author, mythologist, storyteller and award winning wilderness Rites-of-Passage guide

Who is this course for?

We are 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 retrain in a subject area that is of huge importance to our global economic future and wellbeing.

We are looking for enthusiastic agents of change who are ready to co-create a new economy in practice. We are looking for those prepared to take a risk and stand on the cutting-edge of new thinking in this area.

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

What you will learn?

The key sustainability issues facing the world today
How ecological, economic and social crises are systemically linked to the malfunctioning of today’s globalised economy
A critique of the dominant neoclassical, industrial growth model from different perspectives
A theoretical and experiential understanding of an ecological world-view
How to apply ecology and complexity science to the economy and social systems
The co-creation of a new approach to economics drawn from alternative schools of thought
The co-creation of future scenarios and pathways towards low-carbon, high wellbeing and resilient economies
Participation in current debates on the economics of transition
New economics tools, methods and policies and their application to real-world case studies
Self-evaluation to improve professional practice

You will also carry out an independent research project related to the economics of transition

Where you will go?

Are you ready to join a new generation of business leaders, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, researchers, consultants and activists?

Graduates from this programme 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 transition to a new economy.

Hear from some of our past and present students and find out how this programme has changed their lives and careers by reading our the Economics for Transition student profiles.

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