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34 Alternatives to University or Design School in Europe

(Revised January 2014) To do things differently, it helps to connect with new people and contexts. Universities and design schools seldom make that easy. Our xskool encounters meet this need on a modest scale – but there are many other experimental schools, courses and events out there. This handout contains the most interesting ones we’ve found so far. No quality judgment is implied by inclusion in (or omission from) this list. If you spot any mistakes, or would like to suggest an addition, please email: john (at) doorsofperception dot com 

Ecovillage Design Education (worldwide)
Gaia Education “helps people become designers and agents of transformation in their existing communities, institutions and neighbourhoods”. A variety of site-specific and virtual courses is offered in different parts of the world. See also their Facebook page

Sweden, YIP
The International Youth Initiative Program (YIP) is a new social entrepreneur training in Järna, Sweden, for youth aged 18 to 25 who want to create a positive social change in the world.  A course in how to bring your own initiative into being.

Denmark, KaosPilots
A three year long education for young entrepreneurs and project leaders “with a creative edge and a global mind”.

Sweden, Blekinge Institute for Technology
The Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainabiltiy (MSLS] masters programme is founded on the basic premise that a whole-system, transdisciplinary approach is needed to deal with the sustainability challenge of meeting our society’s needs today and into the future.

Denmark, 
International Centre for Innovation and Sustainability, Hornbaek
ICIS “educates creative professionals in the concept of radical, yet sustainable development, and how to implement its principles within design, architecture, industry, business and policymaking”.

Netherlands, Knowmads
“We believe it is our job to enable, facilitate, empower and inspire our students to become change makers”

Italy, Damanhur (Valchiusella Valley, Baldissero Canavese)
Damanhur “promotes a culture of peace and balanced development through solidarity, voluntary work, respect for the environment, art and social and political commitment”. A member of Global Eco-villages Network.

Italy, Officine Al Sole, Bettona
A multi-purpose space where sustainable ideas and practices are elaborated through three poles of activity, closely related to our daily lives: Nurture, Grow and Produce. “We offer a concrete initiative for working, researching, learning providing services aimed at shifting our society towards change, while retaining a holistic and balanced vision of living”.

Norway, Sunniva, Academy of Human Education, Oslo
Teaching in the holistic sciences and other subjects – including Gaia Studies -  leads to a Bachelor and Masters of Arts in Holistic Leadership. People of all ages and backgrounds attend.

Sweden, Holma College of integral Studies, Skane Lan
One-year program in integral education,Integral Philosophy and Spiral Dynamics, Dialogue and Transformative Communication, aAlternative Projecteering and Leadership.

Israel, Lotan Center for Creative Ecology – Kibbutz Lotan, Eilat
A young community situated in the Arava Desert in the south of Israel. ” Our economy is based on date plantations, dairy, tourism, holistic health center, field crops, mariculture and various professions held by members who work outside of the kibbutz. Presently we number 55 adult members and around 60 children”.

England, Schumacher College
Design-related courses deal with design for sustainability in general, biomimicry, and systems thinking. Offers a MSc in Holistic Science, a Certificate in Education and transdisciplinary short courses.

Scotland, Centre for Human Ecology
 MSc in Human Ecology at an independent academic institutebased in Glasgow. Its approach “engages head, heart, and hand – integrating reason, passion, and action for a better world”.

England, Ashridge
The Ashridge MSc in Sustainability and Responsibility is a two year part-time Masters programme based on a series of eight intensive residential workshops, each of five days’ duration.

Scotland, Findhorn 
“We have discovered that the environment in which teaching happens is as important as the teaching itself”. At the cutting edge of the sustainability global movement, Findhorn offers accredited courses in a truly holistic learning environment that facilitates balanced development of mind, body, relationships, emotions and spirit.

Wales, Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)
Courses offered in the Graduate School of the Environment examine environmental issues, energy and buildings. Unique for its large number of people of all ages that it reaches, teaches and inspires.

England,Embercombe, Exeter, Devon
Inspiring programmes for schools, families, individuals, businesses and organisations.

London, South Bank University, Education for Sustainability
Make a difference by becoming an agent for change through studying on the Education for Sustainability (EFS) post-graduate programme. Choose the speed at which you wish to study; two or four units per year distance learning, or eight units in one year on the fast track course.

Scotland, Pishwanton – Life Science Trust, Gifford, East Lothian
The Pishwanton Wood Project is a place of learning set in 60 acres of semi-woodland at the foot of the Lammermuir Hills in East Lothian. Its work is inspired by the methodology pioneered by the German poet, playwright and natural scientist, J. W. v. Goethe whose work in integrating science and art points the way towards a more holistic understanding and sense of connection with nature.

England, Centre for Sustainable Futures (CSF), Plymouth
Opportunities to engage critically with sustainability agendas and their social, ethical, professional and personal implications. Opportunities for action research projects into the greening of the campus and into community and regional sustainability initiatives.

England, Language & Ecology, Cheltenham
A fifteen week module taught by Arran Stibbe. The last part of the module involves exploration of a range different discourses, from the lyrical science writing of Rachel Carson, to romantic poetry, haiku and documentary films in a search for alternative discourses which have the potential to contribute to a more sustainable society.

England, Natural Change Project
Brings together a small, influential group of people to participate in a programme of wilderness workshops. These combine personal development, experiential learning, mentoring, reflection time, group discussion, and a deep exploration of leadership and social change processes.

England, Masters in Leadership for Sustainable Development
At the heart of the 10-month programme is the link between learning about the concept and practice of sustainability and applying those ideas in the real world. Students take up placements in various sectors including NGOs, Local/Regional and Central Government, leading Businesses and the Media.

England, Zone 5, Sustainable Land-Use
Observation of the natural world is the starting point of permaculture design.”We take nature as the model for designing our own houses, gardens, farms, woodlands, towns and villages”.

London, School of Life
A small shop in Central London offers a variety of programmes and services concerned with how to live wisely and well. They address such questions as why work is often unfulfilling, why relationships can be so challenging, why it’s ever harder to stay calm and what one could do to try to change the world for the better.

England, School for Social Entrepreneurs
Training and opportunities to enable people to use their creative and entrepreneurial abilities more fully for social benefit. SSE supports individuals to set up new charities, social enterprises and social businesses across the UK.

England, Sunrise Off-Grid Festival
The Off-Grid College is a 12 module course covering all the essentials for Off Grid living.

England, Circle of Life Rediscovery
Outdoor Learning and Environmental Education specialists: Eco-sessions, Forest School Plus, Woodland days, Camps and Trainings for young people and adults.

London, Education for Sustainability
Environmental education and development education in the context of education for sustainability, provided by South Bank University, Distance Learning Centre, UK.

England, Gaia Partnership (Hay-on-Wye)
Events and courses exploring creative new insights in science, spirituality and the arts. Residential weekends near Hay-on-Wye, include experience of an holistic lifestyle including solar hot water an electricity, organic food, wildlife and countryside.

England, Hamblin Trust (Sussex)
Promotes healthy living through its publications and a rich and balanced programme of events. The Trust operates from Bosham, West Sussex and is set in three acres of lovely grounds.

Greece, Kalikalos Holistic Holidays
“Something deper than a suntan”. Affordable holistic holidays – inspired by Findhorn.

Greece, Living Wholeness Institute
“We find ourselves working in places in which systems are in fundamental shift, and in collaborations with brave souls who are calling in new ways of living that sustain people and planet. Together, we are asking, What does it mean to truly transform our systems – ourselves included – so that they are deeply sustainable, at all levels?”

Germany, Lifelearners
A new portal to alternative study centres; in German.

UK/virtual, School of Commoning
“An ecosystem of mutually supportive relationships in which we create knowledge resources and social capital for improving commons literacy in the UK and beyond”.




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