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If still more education is to save us, it would have to be education of a different kind. E.F. Schumacher
One of the places that E.F. Schumacher’s thinking survives and flourishes today is Schumacher College in Devon – a small college based on the Dartington Hall Estate that punches well above its weight in supporting and inspiring a new generation of global change agents. We ask Julie Richardson, joint Head of Economics at the College, what influence their namesake Schumacher still has on what’s taught there, not least on their exciting new Masters programme in Economics for Transition.
“We specifically teach ‘Schumacher Economics’” explains Julie. “Many of Schumacher’s ideas, such as the concept of ‘small is beautiful’, have already been integrated and mainstreamed across economic thinking, but some of his more radical thoughts require a major change in the way we think about our working lives. The mainstream view is that the consumption of goods and services is what makes people happy. These have to be produced as efficiently as possible and wages have to be generated to buy them. So work has ended up as an undesirable thing that we do in order to buy things – a dehumanising force. Schumacher felt that work was what gave people purpose, a sense of well-being and a reason to be together. He thought that work should be re-organised to fulfil people’s purposes rather than simply maximising output”.
This cultural change in our work ethic would have to be based on a huge transition from the industrial growth society we live in today to a more life-sustaining and well-being valued society. When Schumacher College turns out its first cohort of students to join the new economists who lead a global revolution in our economic system, what can we expect them to do? “I think it’s important we start growing the structures that show what a new economy of the future might look like in practice” says Julie. “These might include new forms of trade, such as the ethical and fair-trade models, new forms of agriculture and forest farming, new forms of legal and land-use arrangements such as community-supported agriculture, new forms of business model such as community interest cooperatives and new forms of community ownership such as community renewable energy services”.
“But this is not just about external structures” she continues. “Our students don’t just learn about new economics, ecological and Buddhist economics – they learn how to be it, what to practice in their daily lives. If you look at what economics is, you can see that it’s the emergence of all our individual decisions, choices and relationships that have become embedded in institutions and trading partnerships. If we want to transform them, we have to look at the process and cycles of our own inner transition and how this relates to outer transformation. The unique thing about Schumacher College is the way in which we engage the whole person in a learning experience. On one level this means integrating what we learn with our ‘head, hands and heart’, but on another level this is about reconnection”.
Another unique thing about Schumacher College is how everything is seen from the viewpoint of ecology and what we can learn from the complex and resilient structures we see in nature. Rather than putting an economic price on the environment, which many have suggested, this way of thinking is more about what we can learn from the environment to make our economic systems fit for a sustainable future. E.F Schumacher was one of the most, if not the most, influential thinkers of the environmental movement, following a long tradition of new economic and humanistic philosophy that goes straight back to J.S. Mill and Ruskin. At Schumacher College his legacy continues.
For more information about the short-course, postgraduate and vocational learning opportunities at Schumacher College, please visit www.schumachercollege.org.uk. Our Masters programmes in Holistic Science, Economics for Transition and Sustainable Horticulture and Food Production are now open for 2012/13.
People all over the world have been informed and inspired by our 21 years of transformative courses and programmes for sustainable living.
We bring together the leading thinkers, activists and practitioners internationally to deliver a unique brand of small-group learning experiences that will change your life.
With our focus on interactive and participatory learning, we offer you both the practical skills and strategic thinking you need to face the ecological, economic and social challenges of the 21st Century.
If you would like to join us for short-course, postgraduate or vocational training, visit Schumacher College online at www.schumachercollege.org.uk
Masters and Postgrad Certificates in Economics for Transition
Now in its first year, this pioneering and popular programme appeals to those who want to get involved in co-creating a resilient, equitable and fair economic system for the future.
Run in partnership with the New Economics Foundation, the Transition Network and Plymouth University Business School this is a deep green immersion in sustainable economics that will bring about both an inner and outer transition.
This Masters programme offers a fundamentally different model of education that we can learn from and apply not only to the economy but to other areas of our lives. It’s about looking at things holistically, being open to new ideas and experiments and not being frightened by uncertainty.”
Professor Eve Mitleton-Kelly, London School of Economics
Masters and Postgrad Certificates in Sustainable Horticulture and Food Production
Join the growers, leaders and agents of change at the forefront of new thinking for resilient,
sustainable and healthy food systems. As global population hits 7 billion in 2011, we consider how food systems become ecologically and financially sustainable in the face of changing climate and pressures on land, water and fossil fuel.
Drawing from projects and strategies around the world, we offer a blend of practical and academic learning from a pioneering partnership between Schumacher College, the Eden Project, the Centre for Alternative Technology and Plymouth University.
“This MSc is about helping people to become agents of positive change. But it is also important to equip them with the immediate skills to get appropriate work now.”
John Ellison, Head of Strategic Learning, Eden Project
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