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Starting 6 Mar 2017 Duration of course 8 weeks  
Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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Never has there been a better time and a more urgent need to create a more resilient and participatory future by turning our attention to the redesign of our economic systems. If you feel stuck or uncertain about what you can do and want to take part in this redesign our e-learning programme is for you.

An increasing amount of people know that our current economic system is no longer sustainable, yet awareness of viable alternatives is spreading slowly. Our aim is to give you a better understanding of those alternatives and the true meaning of economy and wealth. Participants will learn about existing systems and tools that are useful, and will explore what it might take to redesign those that have proven dysfunctional.

To do nothing is to accept that those who still believe the answer to our problems is more economic growth – more production, more consumption, more highways, more buildings, more logging, more fishing, etc., keep us in a vicious circle that drives degeneration. Join this course and learn how to become part of co-creating diverse regenerative economies and cultures, carefully adapted to the bio-cultural uniqueness of the places they inhabit.

The Economic Dimension can be taken as a stand alone programme or as the starting point for our 10-month online ‘Design For Sustainability’ certificate course. The cost of The Economic Dimension is £297 GBP. The course, which includes an Orientation period, lasts for a duration of 8 weeks. We suggest you dedicate a minimum of 10 hours a week to the course, in order to receive maximum benefit from it.

After completing the Economic Dimension you will know how to get involved in the transformation and redesign of your local and regional economy, and where to start the process of becoming a social entrepreneur, starting a cooperative, or a community project. Graduates of our programmes have gone on to contribute to sustainability projects, build communities, become social entrepreneurs, create celebrated permaculture projects, bio-dynamic farms, transition town initiatives, successful consultancies and businesses and much more.

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"The Third Industrial Revolution will also bring with it a more democratic economy. The distributed nature of renewable energies necessitates collaborative rather than hierarchical command and control mechanisms. This new lateral energy regime establishes the organizational model for the countless economic activities that multiply from it. A more distributed and collaborative industrial revolution, in turn, invariably leads to a more distributed sharing of the wealth generated." Jeremy Rifkin


How the course is structured


The Dimension is authored by Daniel C. Wahl (Gaia Education) and Jonathan Dawson (Schumacher College). The course is built on 5 modules, which you can read about below:


Module 1: Shifting the global economy towards sustainability and regeneration

This module explores in depth why the current economic systems no longer serve all - not even most - of humanity, while having a degenerative impact on communities, societies and the environment. It invites you to explore the economy from a whole systems perspective and suggests how we might be able to re-design our economic system in ways that serve all the people and the planet.

Module one explores the following questions:

Why is economics not a science but a system designed by human beings and therefore open to redesign?

How have so called ‘externalities’ and hidden subsidies resulted in an economic system that drives us to live beyond planetary boundaries?

What is the role of international institutions, like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, and how do the lobbies of multinational corporations influence economic policies?

What are the best places to intervene in the system in order to shift the global economy towards sustainability?

What are some promising signs of hope that the redesign of our economic systems is already underway?


Module 2: Community banks and currencies

We examine the basic design of our current monetary system and why it is structurally dysfunctional and drives increasing inequality and creates a systemic need for economic growth. We also explore a wide range of locally and regionally based complementary currency systems and other existing alternatives.

Module two asks:

Why is the debt-based monetary system that charges differential interests for loans and deposits structurally unsustainable?

How could we redesign our monetary system and introduce more diverse currency types to create a more sustainable and resilient system?

What is the role of locally and regionally-based investment systems, microcredit, microfinance and crowdfunding in creating a more sustainable economy?


Module 3: Right Livelihood

In module three we start by taking a closer look at why ‘Growth Domestic Product(ion)’ or GDP is an insufficient economic indicator and what alternative national and international indicators already exist. Local and community scale indicators for economic vibrancy and well being are examined next, along with participatory budgeting, a look at guiding values for economic life and at how collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer networks are already offering new pathways to engaging in right livelihood.

Module three helps you find answers to the following questions:

In the redesign of our economic systems at local, regional, national and global scale, what might be the role of new kinds of indicators and ways of measuring the success of an economy?

What guiding ethics for economic life would help us in the creation of a sharing economy based on peer-to-peer collaboration and collaborative consumption?

What shift in perspective and practice might enable us to design for generosity, trust and participation in the service of a common good?


Module 4: Revitalising local economies & social innovation

This fourth module is all about how we might strengthen economic activity at the local and regional scale and thereby increase community resilience and create the enabling conditions of the political ideal of subsidiarity. We explore how to ‘plug the leaks’ that drain local wealth in favour of multi-nationals and their shareholders, and offer examples of effective economic localizations around the world. We also investigate how social innovation and entrepreneurship, along with the creation of regenerative enterprise ecologies at the regional scale are all part of this transition towards a world where a strong global economy is the result of effective collaboration between vibrant local and regional economies.

Module four asks:

How can a shift towards a stronger solidarity economy and create thriving and resilient communities and regions; and what is the role of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in this transition?

Where can social innovators and entrepreneurs find support in communicating, financing and identifying opportunities for socially and ecologically regenerative development?

What opportunities, challenges and lessons can we draw from looking at the economic experiments and eco-social enterprises that have been created within ecovillages around the world?

What opportunities, challenges and lessons can we draw from looking at the economic experiments and eco-social enterprises that have been created within ecovillages around the world?

What might characterize a regenerative enterprise and how to we set about creating one and linking it to like-minded businesses in its location?


Module 5: Legal and financial issues

Since good advice on running a social enterprise, how to design a sustainable business model and knowing what types and sources of finance and which legal structures you have to work with, all determine the success and effectiveness of your enterprise and/or project, module five starts by addressing these issues. It also takes a closer look at the role of cooperatives, ‘the commons’ and ‘open source’ collaboration, as well as, the kind of legal reforms that might be necessary to create truly regenerative cultures and economies.

Module five poses the following questions:

What is a business model canvas and can I use it to design sustainability and regeneration into my project’s business model?

How to I chose between different types and sources of finances, and what legal structures might best serve my/our business/project?

Where might I find help in preparing a feasibility studies and the business plan for my/our project/business?

What new ways of sharing ownership and access to resources, of innovating together and sharing intellectual property, and of establishing legal foundations for a regenerative culture are already being explored?

The principle author of this substantially revised and rewritten economic dimension is Dr. Daniel C. Wahl (Gaia Education). Some sections were co-authored by Jonathan Dawson (Schumacher College), who wrote the first version of this course.

"Transformative innovation applied to redesigning the human presence on Earth requires global cooperation in the process of building circular and regionally focused economies in support of resilient communities and the regeneration of their ecosystems. Thriving regional economies, supported by scale-linking collaboration and global solidarity, are the basis for collaborative abundance for all." Daniel Christian Wahl


What you will receive


  • You will acquire have the confidence, understanding and ability to take active steps in this vital area of sustainability
  • Faculty bios, methodology, course background, administrative details, and guidelines
  • A training document in the form of a textbook, with readings, latest research, examples, links, handouts, and additional resources
  • A Student Guide's description of each dimensions' learning outcomes, objectives and timeline, plus a set of activities for each module of the learning journey
  • Access to the virtual campus, where you join our classrooms, forums, design teams, direct communication with tutors, sample materials, all learning materials and activities for certificate, and social media related to the course
  • Orientation to the virtual campus, e-learning tools and the Moodle platform
  • Full technical and academic support to go through the virtual course and achieve all the learning outcomes
  • Access to specific course community in Facebook
  • A Certificate of course completion from Gaia Education
  • Earn credits to continue onto our flagship certificated programme in Sustainability & Design

More information


Once you have been enrolled on the online programme, you will be given an orientation of the virtual campus, e-learning tools and the Moodle platform. You will also be granted full access to the virtual campus, where you can join the classrooms, forums and design teams in your current course. There, you can communicate directly with facilitators and other students, access all the learning materials (including the student guide book) and activities for certification, and discover social media material related to the course. The course material contains about 140 pages of written curriculum content for this dimension.

Throughout the programme, our team will be on hand to offer you full technical and academic support to succeed in the virtual course and achieve all the learning outcomes.

Upon finishing, you will be rewarded with a Certificate of course completion from Gaia Education, along with credits to continue onto our flagship certificated ‘Gaia Education Design For Sustainability’ programme.

The Economic Dimension will be followed by the Worldview Dimension in May 2017 and the Design Studio, beginning in July 2017. If you sign-up for the entire 10-month ‘Design For Sustainability’ course, rather than registering for the 4 dimensions and Design Studio individually, you will save £191 GBP.

“Thirty plus years of research and analysis have convinced me that true political democracy cannot prevail until economic democracy has been achieved, and economic democracy cannot be achieved without transcending the global, central-banking, interest-based, debt-money regime and the debt-growth imperative that is built into it.” Thomas H. Greco, Jr


Quotes from previous participants


I am an Agricultural Engineer and Aquaculturist. The subjects of self-sustainability and ecovillages have been on my mind for the past eight years. It's time for me to start my ecovillage.
- Wissam Taleb, GEDS 2014 

After completing a Masters degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences, I began a 13-year-long career in the Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Industry. My vision is very clear on supporting sustainability through the development of ecovillages worldwide.
- Nalini Ranjan Nayak, GEDS 2015

I am a 38 year-old student of permaculture from the USA, but, professionally, I work as a pilot. From having lived and worked in several countries across Europe, Asia and Africa, I have acquired an understanding of different cultures. This has affected my perspective of how we live on and with our planet and each other. I enjoy my profession, but dislike the meaninglessness of my duties and how it keeps me stuck in an economic, social, spiritual and ecological dead-end status quo. So I have long looked for ways to shift my efforts to more meaningful, beneficial work.
- Benjamin Webster, GEDS 2013 

I am a civil engineer and have been working for rural based voluntary organisations for the past 16 years in Land and Water development programs. I wish to broaden my knowledge through training, networking, exchange, education, support and solidarity at a global level. I have a vision of participating in creating a positive future by working & living together, supporting sustainability for both our planet and us.
- Sokkam Raghunath, GEDS 2013

I am a current PhD student at Sofia University, formerly known as the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. Born and raised in China, I studied politics at university and have a MBA in management. After working in the business world in several countries, I started my study of Transpersonal Psychology, with a focus on Ecological Consciousness, in 2013. I would like to apply spiritual ecology and help to make China, my home country, and the Earth, my home planet, better places.
- Sylvia Wen, GEDS 2015 

My community in Northern California has become an example of heated water rights issues due to severe drought. It is also struggling with economic depression and widespread drug abuse. I hope to create an institute here for learning and developing sustainable strategies that address our global planetary needs and, at the same time, can fit within the framework of the needs of this local community.
- Carrie Campbell, GEDS 2014 

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"A simple story lies at the heart of our current economic system. It is a story of separation between humanity and nature. This story creates alienation, lack of belonging, fear and the need to control. Living this story ultimately makes us see through a lens of scarcity and competition for limited resources. Instead of living well within planetary boundaries and in collaborative abundance shared between all of humanity and life as a whole, we have chosen a path of trying to predict, control, manipulate and exploit nature as if we were somehow separate from life’s life-sustaining cycles that maintain this planet in habitable conditions for complex organisms like us." Diana Leaf

Frequently Asked Questions

We will be accepting admissions to until the end of the first week of March 2017. Should you have any questions please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.