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Sustainability institute of the week: Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems



The Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems is an independent ‘think and do’ tank that offers popular learning programmes from Bristol. The organisation’s work is firmly rooted in economist E F Schumacher’s philosophy.

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E F Schumacher was one of the world’s leading economists and died in 1977, but his work remains relevant and inspiring after his death. In his book Small is Beautiful Schumacher looks at the modern economic system and its use of resources. He tries to explain where it has gone wrong, with some people living with obscene amounts of wealth while others struggle to get by.

Underpinning the work of the institute is a systems thinking approach – understanding that the world consists of systems that interact and influence one another. It argues that any sustainable solutions to the issues we face will need to take this into account.

The Schumacher Institute’s mission statement says, “We contribute to the transforming of society, so that countries and communities can converge to similar levels of development within the limits of the earth’s resources, and with increasing equity for people today and for future generations.

“We help people prepare for a future in which disruptive change will happen with increasing speed, and will demand a high degree of adaptability. We build on the ideas expressed in the works of E F Schumacher, particularly appropriate technology at the right scale, local actions, peace and non-violent approaches, simplicity and the sense that all people matter.”

The learning programmes offered at the institute aim to equip people with the understanding and tools that will enable them to develop a more meaningful and sustainable life on both personal and work levels. There are currently three courses on offer that cover systems thinking, leadership development and looking at a sustainable co-existence with the natural world.

Photo: bertvhul via Freeimages  

Further reading:

Celebrating the work of E.F. Schumacher

Book review: Small Is Beautiful: A study of Economics as if People Mattered – EF Schumacher (1973)

Climate change art project in Bristol shows extent of rising sea levels

Sustainability in the city: Bristol, UK

Community banking alternative to launch in Bristol


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