Announcing the Schumacher College essay competition winners

by | Oct 1, 2021

Matt Carmichael winner of the competition
Matt Carmichael, winner of the Schumacher College essay competition

2021 is the 30th anniversary of Schumacher College, and one of the ways we celebrated this was to launch an essay competition in collaboration with Resurgence and Ecologist magazine. Throughout our 30 years as an educational provider of ecologically focused, transformational courses, residencies and degrees, we have taught many students to rethink what they are doing as if both people and planet matter. For this competition, we wanted to throw this concept back out and ask participants to tell us what they think an education that cares for people and planet really looks like.

We received nearly 250 entries from all around the world and our judging panel had some difficult decisions to make. The panel was chaired by Jonathon Porrit, founder of the Forum for the Future, and also included Ann Finlayson, Clare Hogan, Cindy Forde, Holly Everett, Lauren Banham, Marianne Brown, Pavel Cenkl, and Tim Smit.

We are thrilled to announce that the winner is Matt Carmichael, a secondary school teacher from Leeds who wrote about the lessons wasps have to teach us.

Matt said “I feel truly honoured to win this prize. Just the thought of the panel of judges – people I hugely admire – reading my work and appreciating it brings a big smile to my face. The opportunity to enter came just as I was reflecting on my own struggles to embed sustainability into the life of the school where I work, and thinking especially about what I could learn from the way my students have responded; young people are the strictest teachers!”

Matt has won £5,000 and his essay will be published in the January/February issue of Resurgence magazine.

Dheepa R Maturi author

Deepa Maturi

Second place went to Deepa Maturi, a lawyer from Indianapolis in the midwestern United States who wins £2,000. Deepa said of her essay: “I often struggle with “climate grief” — that particular pain resulting from the reckless destruction of our environment and home. To resist my growing hopelessness, I began to focus my attention upon the people battling for the Earth’s health, working to clean oceans and plant trees and reform laws. I began to follow the work of educators and institutions, notably the Dartington Trust and Schumacher College, who are changing teaching methodologies, helping members of the next generation to redefine humanity’s relationship with the planet. All of these warriors were the inspiration for my essay, and it was written in their honor. Their valiant efforts have made me embrace my own responsibility for action and optimism.”

And third place was awarded to Guy Dauncey, an ex Totnesian who now lives on the coast of Vancouver Island, in Canada who wins £1,000. When asked what inspired him to write the essay he commented: “The Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretsky has a saying that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. So when Schumacher College put out the goal-posts, I had to take a shot at them! Plus, I’m always itching to inspire people with the amazing possibilities that await us, as well as being alarmed at those other possibilities, if we don’t fix the climate and biodiversity emergencies.”

Satish Kumar, founder of Schumacher College who helped to choose the winning essays commented: “Faced with urgent environmental issues highlighted by the climate crisis we need to make radical changes in our educational system. The 243 essays submitted in the Essay Competition launched by Schumacher College point towards many positive solutions. Particularly the three winning essays provide hope and way forward towards an educational system fit for the future. The overall vision emerging from these essays present a framework in which we can design a system of education as if people and planet matter.”

The competition is part of a year-long celebration of Schumacher College, including the publication of a new book Transformative Learning, with essays from faculty and visiting lecturers, and a student bursary fundraising campaign. Find out more about the 30th anniversary via this link.

Guy Dauncey, essay writer

Guy Dauncey