The Centre for Human Ecology (CHE) is a Scottish charity and education cooperative with an international network of members and fellows which dates back to its founding in 1972 and successive decades as an academic institute. The physical Centre, library and hub are now located in the hard-pressed community of Govan, Glasgow, where we are committed to addressing the issues of poverty and loss of hope at their roots. The CHE needs to further organise our structures and ways of working as a cooperative in order to improve how we function, including our collaborative ways of working and alignment with our purpose and values.
At CHE, we conceive of radical human ecology as a generalist, radical and transdisciplinary tradition in the service of the public good. Our pedagogic ethos is strongly influenced by Geddes’ model of head, heart and hand and cooperative values. Through accessible workshops, seminars, symposiums and courses we aim to help create responses, informed by the best available research, that address underlying causes of the global environmental and social crises, while encouraging and delivering effective solutions on personal, social and organisational levels. CHE exists to stimulate and support fundamental change towards ecological and social justice through education, action and research, drawing on a holistic, multidisciplinary understanding of environmental and social systems.
Managerialist for-profit higher education is proving unfit for the task of building the knowledges and lifeways we need at this time. While the CHE is formally a hybrid workers/ learners cooperative, ongoing work is needed to deepen and strengthen our cooperative practice. SHED has given the CHE some scoping funding to explore the co-creation of a radical cooperative community. Our priorities are to design and develop an online learning space on our website that is able to meet the challenges of distance learning and enable connections between learners and with other learning communities to shape a common head-heart-hand approach to action and enquiry. Designing and hosting online courses with a focus on human ecology, degrowth and ecological economics, and the legacy of patriarchy will prototype ways of learning and unlearning/ unschooling and work towards alternative systems of accreditation. CHE will respond to the need for physical community and contact when this will be possible again, by bringing people together in physical learning spaces. As Scotland’s first education cooperative and with 50 years of gathered wisdom behind it, the CHE has the tested integrity, capacity and connections to respond to the challenges.