University session Small is Beautiful: Ecological Design Thinking

  • Speakers:
  • Tim Crabtree, Roberto Fraquelli, Masters Students

Topics relevant to the session

  • Details About the session
  • Speakers Info about who's talking

The Disruptive Innovation Festival is an online festival of ideas that asks the question: what if we could redesign everything? During the DIF, we’ll be asking our speakers to tell us what they think is in store for the future of the economy. While watching you can chip in with your thoughts and questions: sign up for a free My DIF account and ask your question through the discussion forum below the live stream!

"In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system of production that ravishes nature and a type of society that mutilates man. If only there were more and more wealth, everything else, it is thought, would fall into place." (Small is Beautiful, E.F. Schumacher, 1973)
In this session, students from the Masters programme in Ecological Design Thinking and Economics for Transition at Schumacher College, in Devon, share their thoughts and ambitions around the concept of ‘small is beautiful’. Is such a concept still relevant today, some 45 years after the book was first published?
Industrial design has often been associated with consumption; but how can innovation with an ecological wisdom challenge this materialism? Is there an approach that might sit between inefficiencies of small scale and the dangers of inappropriate large-scale technology? This session will consider how such innovation can be compatible with the human need for creativity, justice and belief in a healthy planet.

The session was organised in collaboration with Schumacher College.


Tim Crabtree

Tim Crabtree

Tim is senior lecturer in Economics for Transition at Schumacher College. Tim has been involved in “new economics” for 30 years, after studying economics at Oxford University and then working for the New Economics Foundation for 5 years. He has experience in policy development, local economic development and business advice, and was the co-founder of a number of successful social enterprises including: The Wessex Reinvestment Trust group and Dorset-based Local Food Links Ltd. During his time at the latter, he was responsible for developing farmers’ markets, food festivals, community gardening projects, a specialist workspace, a vocational training programme for young people and a school meals catering service, employing 25 people, which now supplies 33 schools with a turnover in excess of £1 million per annum.

Roberto Fraquelli

Roberto Fraquelli

Roberto is Ecological Design Thinking convener at Schumacher College. He is interested in Holistic Design and the dilemma many designers face between the pressures of economic growth and an empathy with all living systems. His current research focuses on 4 interrelated themes: ecological design thinking, deep empathic design, systems design thinking and contemplative inquiry. With over 20 years of professional practice, mostly working with IDEO Global Design company, Roberto has designed products, environments and experiences for clients across Europe, America, India and the Far East. He holds a number of international design awards and patents - and his work has been featured in Domus, Business Week, Design Week, The Observer, and NewDesign magazine. Roberto studied Industrial Design at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. He also teaches and is Professor of Design with Plymouth University.

Get involved!

Have your say by commenting below