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Schumacher Institute

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Introduction to Schumacher Institute

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'Schumacher Institute learning courses, in particular "Pause for Effect", aim to develop the skills, confidence and understanding needed to engage effe...'

Introduction to Schumacher Institute

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Schumacher Institute learning courses, in particular "Pause for Effect", aim to develop the skills, confidence and understanding needed to engage effectively with complexity and uncertainty. 

EF Schumacher was a visionary thinker, most famous for his 1970s book Small is Beautiful. His work continues to be highly relevant and influential in relation to how we address the complex challenges we face - the environment, economics, social justice. Schumacher encouraged us to ‘look at the world and see it whole', to learn how to understand and work effectively with the uncertainty and complexity of the systems of which we are a part.

Central to Schumacher's beliefs were the ideas of appropriate 'human' scale, local action, uniting differences, non-violence, simplicity and spiritual development. His was a unique philosophical expression of ideas about how we should live on this planet. Schumacher asked us to think about 'complex systems, where people matter'.

Of particular relevance is Schumacher's distinction between convergent and divergent problems. Convergent problems are capable of a single answer, even if it takes a lot of analysis and intellect to get there. By contrast, many of the complex problems we face are capable of many possible outcomes. These are divergent problems.

Schumacher's complaint was that, because we are good at fixing things, human beings make the mistake of assuming all problems are convergent and fixable.

Our car-mechanic view assumes that the complexity of the world is just a simple machine waiting to be properly understood. 

We know that most challenges we face, as individuals and more widely, lie beyond being simple, or even complicated, they are complex, sometimes chaotic. To find solutions to these, we need to learn and develop different, more appropriate ways to think and act, beyond the mechanistic.

Our courses, Pause for Effect, Systems Sustainability and Me, and Pale Blue Dot, do this.