About us

People at table

Who are we?

The Schumacher Institute is a think tank. We believe that our planet faces complex social, economic and environmental crises that are hard to solve, however, we are optimistic that solutions can be found. We apply systems thinking to explore and test sustainable options, which acknowledge the complexity of our world. We see social justice as integral to sustainability and look for answers that are fair to all, within the limits the Earth can sustain. Read our mission statement to find out more.


I certainly never feel discouraged. I can’t myself raise the winds that might blow us or this ship into a better world. But I can at least put up the sail so that when the wind comes, I can catch it.

E.F Schumacher, Good Work (1979)

Inclusive Sustainability (Marvin Rees)

Marvin Rees on “Environmentalism and Me” at our Inclusive Sustainability conference (June 2014)

What do we do?

  • Our research uses explores and proposes solutions for a fairer and more sustainable world.
  • We use projects to test and put our research into action
  • Our learning courses and events encourage people to explore systems thinking and its implications for social, environmental and economic sustainability
  • We provide consultancy services to help businesses use systems thinking for strategic planning.

What is systems thinking?

The prevailing way of thinking sees the world as a ‘machine’ – it can be taken apart, analysed and understood. But this is not the case; our planet is a complex, messy and –sometimes – unknowable place. This can mean there are no simple solutions to the issues we face.

Systems thinking recognises this and seeks to understand the world as a series of inter-related systems. This does not mean there are no solutions, just that they can only be found with an awareness of the systems in which we are trying to intervene.

As our world continues to change rapidly and become more complex, systems thinking will help us manage, adapt and see the wide range of choices we have before us. It is a way of thinking that gives us the freedom to identify root causes of problems and see new opportunities.

Donella Meadows.

Why do we do this work?

Evidence shows that dominant current economic, social and political systems are not working – for the majority of people, and certainly not for the planet. Our work seeks to find more sustainable options, to enable all species to flourish, while protecting and conserving our environment for current and future generations.

Historically and geographically, the world’s wealth has not been equally distributed. There is a close relationship between many social and environmental issues. We therefore promote “convergent globalisation” towards more sustainable societies.

Schumacher InstThis proposes that industrialised countries will need to reduce their impact upon the planet, while developing countries will increase theirs as they continue to develop quality of life. This convergence also needs to happen within societies, as levels of inequality continue to soar.


Photo License for Featured Photo (Copyright: Charamelody)