November 21, 2003

I Don't Know You People II

Oh, dear.

Schumacher College, in partnership with the University of Plymouth, runs the first postgraduate programme in the world to offer an MSc in Holistic Science. It explores new transdisciplinary methodologies that are gaining success in explaining natural systems. These recognise that complex systems have "emergent properties" that describe their characteristics as wholes and that these properties are conditioned, but not determined, by the system's constituent parts. The course offers methodologies that go beyond reductionism in understanding the dynamics of whole systems, which are explored at all levels from individual organisms to organisations, and from ecosystems to the Earth. Integrating qualitative and quantitative approaches which include, for example, chaos and complexity theories, computer modelling, intuitive perception and co-operative inquiry, students develop an holistic understanding of these systems and learn to work with them creatively.

The MSc in Holistic Science advocates a participatory science of qualities, values and interactions which underpins an ecological world view. This approach is more capable than traditional science of relating to the problems of environmental degradation, spiritual decline and collapsing communities that face humanity today. Graduates of the MSc in Holistic Science will be able to take a broad, integrated systemic approach to, for example, environmental management, education for sustainability, biological research, business management or health issues. They will be equipped with skills ideally suited to self-employment or professional consultancies.

The one-year programme is led principally by Professor Brian Goodwin and Dr Stephan Harding. The core modules in the MSc cover philosophy and methodology, the holistic perspective as it has developed in the sciences, and applications to a diversity of complex systems. The core modules feature classes with visiting teachers such as Margaret Colquohoun, James Lovelock, Henri Bortoft and Rupert Sheldrake. Students also select two courses from the Schumacher College short-course programme which feature visiting teachers such as Jane Goodall, Brian Swimme, and Charlene Spretnak.

The programme culminates in a special project in which MSc students apply the holistic methodology to a research topic of their choice.

I admit to adding the emphasis to the original. It gets worse when you look at the details. Yes, it is possible do get worse after boasting of your affiliation with Rupert Sheldrake, a man who gives pseudoscience a bad name.

The worst part of it is that I do know, or know of, some of these people; Brian Goodwin wrote a book with a friend of mine whose work I respect very much. What, dare I ask, has happened to Goodwin?

[Via Learning Session, which I found through its epitome of my notebook on Otto Neurath.]

Complexity ; Learned Folly

Posted at November 21, 2003 19:27 | permanent link

Three-Toed Sloth