Schumacher College


People from all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds, have been informed, inspired and encouraged to act, by our 25 years of transformative courses for sustainable living.

Schumacher College has an enviable reputation for cutting-edge learning. Our work is to inspire, challenge and question ourselves as co-inhabitants of the world, to ask the questions we all struggle to find answers to and to find sound knowledge, intuition and wonder in our search for solutions.

We bring together the leading thinkers, activists and practitioners internationally, to deliver a unique brand of small group learning experiences. This learning takes place in the classroom, the gardens, the kitchen – it is part of everything we do.

Here you will discover things about yourself, make deep friendships with students from around the world, and, like many alumni, start a lifelong connection with the College.

With a focus on interactive, experiential and participatory learning, we offer the practical skills and strategic thinking required to face the ecological, economic and social challenges of the 21st Century.

It is precisely at this time of global upheaval that we want you to come to the College to share with us the ways in which you are moved to live and act differently.

Schumacher College is a very special place. As we try and figure out what on earth we’re going to do with this unraveling planet, it’s become a thinktank for hope, a battery for positive vision! Bill McKibben, founder of

Why should you come?

If you come to Schumacher College for a postgraduate programme, short course or vocational training, you will be part of our international learning community in the beautiful surrounds of South Devon, on the Dartington Hall Estate (link is external).

The Dartington Hall Estate was founded in the 1920s by two charismatic entrepreneurs, taking their influences from east and west to set up an experiment in rural regeneration. Their vision was based on progressive forms of education, art and agriculture – a legacy which we continue today.

All of our courses are deeply grounded in an ecological and holistic worldview which, once experienced, will completely transform the way you live and work in the world.

Coming here is a rich and diverse experience which allows you to mix with like-minded students, teachers and activists who are striving for positive change in the world. Schumacher College is a place where you will meet friends and allies from all walks of life and from all parts of the globe, who share an interest and a passion about the planet we inhabit.

Schumacher College is simply one of the finest teaching and learning environments to be found anywhere in the World. David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous and Becoming Animal

What it’s like to be here

Schumacher College courses are of the highest quality and offer learning and teaching that is seldom found in Universities and Colleges today.

The unique nature of the courses are not only in the content, but in the way you as a learner are actively involved as a co-creator.

You will not be a passive receiver of knowledge here, but you will be expected to be an active learner seeking out solutions to questions that nobody has yet answered.

Schumacher College is a rigorous and demanding place and our students are an integral part of making the learning experience unique, unforgettable and totally life-changing.

You will be a part of the rich tapestry which makes up the College on a day to day basis, mixing with students, volunteers, apprentices, visiting teachers, praticitioners, speakers and performers.

What we believe in

Community – living, working and learning together

The best learning happens in groups. We endeavour to run our Short Courses with an average of 20 participants and our Postgraduate Programme with 15, although this is subject to variation. This enables you to get the best out of your interactions with each other and with your course teachers and facilitators. We employ a range of teaching methods and facilitated processes to ensure that both group and individual learning opportunities are maximised and that a real sense of co-creation and belonging arises regardless of the length of your stay at the College.

We start the day with a communal morning meeting to go through the business of the day and to allocate work groups and tasks. All students and staff take part in daily activities of cooking, cleaning and gardening which, apart from being an integral to our learning, helps to foster a sense of community and is a great opportunity to mix with all members of the College.

Where possible we encourage student participation in the wider community of the College. We have regular open evenings for the public where our short course teachers give Earth Talks. This is a great opportunity for students to mingle with local residents. We also make the most of our partnership with Transition Town Totnes (link is external) – the home of the international Transition Movement – who are regularly invited to give talks to our students.

Respect for all living systems – an ecological worldview

Everything we do is with consideration of its impact on the wider world. We are lucky to be based in a very beautiful part of the world, with the historical legacy of the Dartington Hall Estate behind us and the College itself in an atmospheric listed building – The Old Postern. The upkeep and running of the College is not without challenges in terms of sustainability, but we aim to walk our talk on a day to day basis.

Our library is a hugely valuable resource, containing books and archive footage going back through the 20 years of our existence as a College. Some of the biggest names in sustainability and ecological living have visited us over this time and our collection reflects this. Students, writers and journalists often visit us on retreat to use this facility. As a student you will have unlimited access, seven days a week.

Healthy body – healthy mind

Some people keep coming back to the College for the food alone! Our team of in-house chefs (with support from yourselves) prepare delicious vegetarian, organic and locally-sourced food at every mealtime. The standard of food is so good that our regular cooking courses sell-out very quickly in advance.

A significant portion of the food is grown in the College’s 3.5 acre grounds, which are managed by the College, with the help of students and volunteers. As well as food growing, the grounds include areas specifically for wildlife, contemplation and inspiration in nature. The gardens are managed on ecological principles, and permaculture design approaches.

Also nurturing a healthy body and mind, we have a purpose-made room for meditation and quiet reflection where you can choose to start the day with a facilitated mediation session before breakfast. (I don’t like the implication that gardening or cooking can’t be a quiet pursuit but am I splitting hairs!?)

Beyond the College are the farm and beautiful grounds of the Dartington Hall Estate. Take a walk through the mixed woodlands surrounding the College, along the River Dart which runs through the Estate, or through the ornamental gardens of Dartington Hall itself for art-related events and festivals plus the cinema, theatre and art-spaces.

Venture further afield to the town of Totnes, only 20 minutes on foot, to experience the best the town has to offer in terms of alternative living, green community and complementary healthcare. Or take a trip to the wilds of nearby Dartmoor – an area of immense natural beauty in our neighbouring landscape. The stunning South Devon coast is also close by, with wild rocky cliffs and sandy beaches.

This school offers programs in:
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This school also offers:


MSc Holistic Science

Campus Full time September 2017 United Kingdom Totnes

Schumacher College in partnership with Plymouth University is the first in the world to offer a postgraduate programme in Holistic Science. Starts Sept 2017 [+]

Are you deeply concerned about the state of the natural world? Are you hoping to make a difference with your life and work? Schumacher College in partnership with Plymouth University is the first in the world to offer a postgraduate programme in Holistic Science. Western science is dominated by ‘reductionism’ – the idea that natural phenomena can be explained in terms of their component parts. Reductionism is incomplete, and can be counter-productive since it suggests that by analysing the ‘mechanical’ workings of nature we can fully predict and manipulate it. Holistic science recognises the limitations of this methodology, focusing instead on nature’s qualities, complexity and intrinsic value, giving a science fit to solve global challenges. What is Holistic Science? The programme explores new methodologies that are gaining success in exploring natural systems. These recognise that complex systems are dynamic processes realising their emergent properties as wholes – and that these properties are conditioned, but not determined, by the system’s constituent parts. The course provides methodologies that go beyond reductionism in understanding dynamic interactive systems, whether these are ecosystems, the weather, organisations, a plant or a developing human embryo. Students develop a holistic understanding of these systems and along the way learn to apply techniques such as computer modelling, intuitive perception and phenomenology. Of particular importance here is Goethe’s methodology as a way of meeting the whole through the parts. The programme advocates a participatory science of interactions, qualities, values and intuition, a science that is more capable of informing some of the key movements today, including environmental restoration, spiritual renewal and community regeneration. Holistic thinking is already revolutionising physics, earth system science, ecology, evolutionary biology, organisational development and health studies. It is generating increasing interest from scientists in many fields – especially those concerned with issue relating to sustainability. Since1998, when it first began, this Masters programme has developed a coherent methodology of holistic enquiry, proving a rigorous and ethical framework for a mature science. Join our learning community for this pioneering programme in Holistic Science which completely re-evaluates our scientific understanding of nature, the ecological crisis we face and our role in widespread ecological, economic and social change. Our teachers have included: Stephan Harding Philip Franses Patricia Shaw Satish Kumar Bill Plotkin and Geneen Marie Haugen Craig Holdrege Rupert Sheldrake Shantena Sabbadini Jules Cashford Who is this course for? The primary qualification we are looking for in our students is a strong interest in nature, how it evolves and self-organises and what we as individuals, organisations and cultures can learn from it in our quest for a sustainable future. We welcome people from all backgrounds, cultures and of any age – whether you are currently employed, unemployed, a student or retired. The diversity of our student group is a rich part of how we learn and is a reflection of the diversity of nature itself. What will you learn? A thorough understanding of the implications and consequences of using western science as a tool for gaining reliable information about the world. Insights about how contemporary sustainability issues have come about and the various routes we could take in addressing them. Theoretical and experiential understandings of an ecological world view for transforming your understanding of your place in the world and how to act within it. An understanding of the importance of sensing, feeling and intuition for an expanded science. Knowledge of a range of alternative scientific methodologies which integrate qualitative experience and quantitative measurement. An understanding of the emergent properties of whole systems through the lenses of chaos, complexity and Gaia theories, and how these relate to ecological, social and economic problems. An understanding of how Holistic Science is being applied in the creation of a more sustainable world. A clearer understanding of your own rational and emotional states and processes through experiential and reflective group enquiry. As part of this programme you will also carry out an independent research project in which you can apply holistic science to your own area of interest. This is an unparalleled opportunity to undertake high level research outside the usual constraints of academic norms. Projects can be presented as personal narrative, film, artwork, poetry or any other creative endeavor, alongside more conventional modes of delivery. Where you will go? Graduates of the programme have taken a broad integrated systemic approach in areas such as environmental management, education for sustainability, design, biological research, ecological business consulting, academia, healthcare, agriculture, media and film-making, NGOs and working with indigenous people. [-]


MA Ecological Design Thinking

Campus Full time 1 year September 2017 United Kingdom Totnes

Be active and transformative within organisations, communities, economics and education as we meet the challenge of transitioning to low carbon, high well-being and resilient places and systems. Never has there been a more important time for a new approach to design. - starts September 2017. [+]

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 economic. 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. Our Teachers Dr Simon Bradbury, Plymouth University School of Architecture, Design & Environment Simon is a Lecturer in Architecture at Plymouth University and on the management group of the Institute of Sustainable Solutions Research. He runs the Master of Architecture 1st year course, co-ordinates sustainable design across the department. He has a background in both industry and Government. In Government he worked at the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) where he was responsible for the commissioning of research to influence changes in policy on issues including sustainable masterplanning, housing and the value of good design. He also was instrumental in developing CABE’s policy and strategy on housing standards and has given numerous lectures across the UK on the issue. He is a registered Architect with over 10 years experience and has worked for internationally recognised Architecture and Urban Design practices. He was responsible for the design of a number of award winning projects ranging in scale from large masterplanning projects to individual houses for government, third sector and private clients. Mona Nasseri Mona has a Doctorate and Master’s degree in Design from the University of Dundee and BA in Crafts from the Tehran Art University. She was a member of the Craft team in Duncan of Jordonstone and also the Centre for the Study of Natural Design where she first met Professor Seaton Baxter. This was the beginning of a long collaboration with Seaton, first as a PhD student and later as a research assistant, which brought her to Schumacher College. Mona’s research focuses on pattern of transformation in humans as bio-sociocultural beings. She has a particular interest in the role of perception and embodied knowledge in such transformation. Her PhD explored the interface of self, craft and sustainability. Ruth Potts, development co-ordinator, MA Ecological Design Thinking Ruth co-ordinated the development of the MA in Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher College and is part of the teaching team. She is a co-founder of bread, print & roses, a collective engaged in seditious pamphleteering, radical walking, anarchist baking and transformative education. Previously, Ruth was Campaign Organiser for the Great Transition at nef (the new economics foundation) where she co-developed a new model of campaign designed to kick-start the decade -long transition to a new economy and society. She is the co-author of The New Materialism, covered by the Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times, and a co-author of nef’s Clone Town Britain reports. Ruth helped to organise the Green New Deal Group in 2007 and managed the launch of the Group’s First report, A Green New Deal, in July 2008. The concept was subsequently taken up by UNEP, and influenced policy around the globe. Ruth is a trustee of the Pioneer Health Foundation, the pioneering holistic model of health that influenced the World Health Organisation. She brought together and co-hosts eco-feminist collective: the Hoydens, co-created and curated a series of events about the joy and intelligence of craft at the School of Life: Practitioner’s Parlour, and more recently helped to devise a series of poetry events celebrating unusual spaces and liminal places: ‘Somewhere in Particular.’ These will include: Partner Institutions School of Architecture, Design and Environment, Plymouth University The School was formed in 2009 to establish a vibrant multi-and interdisciplinary portfolio of courses and programmes, supported by a culture of research and research-informed teaching. The School has already won several prestigious international awards, has propagated a vibrant PGR community and receiving a special commendation for research environment and strategy from the Royal Institute of British Architects (BA Architecture Revalidation 2012). Associated institutions School of Design,Carnegie Mellon University Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design is one of the oldest and most respected programs in North America, with a rich history in product, communication, and interaction design. It is one of only a few design schools to offer education across the full spectrum of learning – from pre-college to doctoral degrees – in a research setting renowned for its teaching innovations. Transition Network The Transition Network supports an international movement to inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities and organisations to rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions. [-]

MA Economics for Transition

Campus Full time Part time 1 - 3 years September 2017 United Kingdom Totnes + 1 more

In response to the deepening economic and related crises, we launched our postgraduate programme in Economics for Transition in association with the New Economics Foundation, the Transition Network and the Business School at Plymouth University. Start Date - Sept 2017 [+]

Achieving Low-Carbon, High Well-Being, Resilient Economies 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 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 response to the deepening economic and related crises, we launched our postgraduate programme in Economics for Transition in association with the New Economics Foundation, the Transition Network and the Business School at Plymouth University. 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 Have Included: Jonathan Dawson – Schumacher College Tim Crabtree – Schumacher College Stephan Harding – Schumacher College Julie Richardson – Schumacher College Anna Coote and Tony Greenham – New Economics Foundation Rob Hopkins, Jay Tompt & Sophy Banks – 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. Partner institutions nef (the new economics foundation) Nef was founded in 1986 by the leaders of The Other Economic Summit (TOES) which forced issues such as international debt onto the agenda of the G7 and G8 summits. They combine rigorous analysis and policy debate with practical and innovative solutions to economic, environmental and social issues. Transition Network The Transition Network supports an international movement to inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities and organisations to rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions. Business School at Plymouth University. Plymouth University Business School are committed to social and environmental enterprise and were top of the People and Planet Green League of Universities in 2010. [-]


Inspired By Schumacher College: A Film


Schumacher College

Address Totnes TQ9 6EA, United Kingdom
Phone +44 1803 865934