College offers degree in economics for transition

Schumacher College is the first educational institution in the world to offer a postgraduate programme in Economics for Transition

The full-time one-year programme, starting in September 2011, is designed to support a new generation of leaders in undertaking a radical rethinking of economics that recognises the challenges we face now, rather than following a model from previous centuries. This would put measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change at the core, together with a recognition of the importance of equity and social justice.

Never has there been a more important time for a new approach to economics. The reputation of economists has rarely been lower; for many people the economic system played a big part in the recent financial crisis and so cannot be part of any solution.

However, over the past two decades, key thinkers and practitioners have been developing alternative ways forward that once were dismissed as radical and marginal but are now moving centre stage.

“The aim of the course is for students to become part of the solution not part of problem,” said Julie Richardson, head of economics at Schumacher College. “It is about creating an economic system fit for the ecological, social, economic and spiritual challenges of the 21st century as we make the great transition to low carbon, high wellbeing and resilient economies.”

The programme is being developed in association with the New Economics Foundation (nef) and Transition Network, and is offered through the Business School at the University of Plymouth.

The first theme the course will examine is ecology and complexity, which will look at what can be learnt from ecological systems and how to apply these principles to the economy. Students will then study the emergence of new economics by critiquing the dominant economic growth model and examining new thinking within the field. On this basis they will explore scenarios and pathways in different sectors such as energy and business. The understanding students have gained will be applied to new models in practice across different themes such as sustainable production and consumption, and relocalisation.

“There has been a lot of interest in the course,” said Julie, “from international students, NGOs, local authorities, corporate social responsibility departments and research academics.”