About Us

In 2005 the Schumacher Society UK decided to form a research institute or think tank, in the city of Bristol. This early beginning drew on the experience and knowledge of some of the most remarkable people who were prominent in the field of sustainable systems – many were already closely associated with the Society.

Picture of Hotwells, Bristol, the view from our office.

In April 2008 the Schumacher Centre Ltd was formed, a company limited by guarantee and in November 2011 it was registered as a charity. In August 2014 permission was granted by the government to use the name ‘Institute’ and we officially became The Schumacher Institute. In 2015 the original Schumacher Society UK was closed.

Who are we?

The Schumacher Institute is a think tank. We believe that our planet faces complex social, economic and environmental crises that defy simple solutions, however, we are optimistic that we can make positive changes. We apply systems thinking to explore and test sustainable options, which acknowledge the complexity of our world. We see social justice as integral to sustainability and look for answers that are fair to all, within the limits the Earth can sustain. Read our mission statement to find out more.


I certainly never feel discouraged. I can’t myself raise the winds that might blow us or this ship into a better world. But I can at least put up the sail so that when the wind comes, I can catch it.

E.F Schumacher, Good Work (1979)

The research objective for the institute is to discover what it means to make our complex systems sustainable in the long term and in harmony with the natural world. It examines, assesses, and experiments with ways to change human activity towards this difficult and all-encompassing concept with the simple aim of “building enduring and appropriate scale systems where people matter”.

The institute adds an independent voice, for the sustainability movement, to local, national, and global policy debates that are dominated by partisan interests. Its independence comes from sticking to its theoretical foundation, which is grounded in the work of Schumacher. This allows thinking to go beyond the normal, to consider radical approaches and to address taboo subjects. It seeks to reconcile differences by moving the debate into a whole system, long-term perspective.