History and Mission

Following the death of E.F Schumacher in 1977, Schumacher UK was founded in 1978. It is officially named the Dr. E. F. Schumacher Society but is commonly known as The Schumacher Society or Schumacher UK.

The first meeting of the Society was held in Bristol on the 19th of November 1978, the members present on that day were Maurice Ash, Gerard Morgan-Grenville, John Seymour and Anthony D. Lewis with Edward Goldsmith and John Pontin in attendance.  The meeting appointed Satish Kumar as chair. It was also resolved … “that the Society will attempt to organize every year a series of Lectures in the memory of Dr. E.F. Schumacher”.

It was also decided that the society would be based around the ideas of Small is Beautiful E.F Schumacher’s most famous and influential book. Some of the Society’s first work was the forming of the ERA (Environmental Research Association) and in supporting organisations such as the Soil Association (of which E.F Schumacher was himself an early supporter and later its president) and the ITDG (Intermediate Technology Development Group, now Practical Action) which E.F Schumacher himself established in 1965, as well as wide range of causes all over the world.

By the middle of the 1980’s the Society had not only established the annual Bristol Schumacher Lectures, but also created an award for outstanding achievement in ecological work (The Schumacher Award), and an annual essay competition. Satish was also running Resurgence Magazine, initiated the Small School in Hartland, Devon, and was instrumental, with John Elford, in launching Green Books.

Since its creation, the Society has been closely involved in many more ventures, including the opening of Schumacher College at Dartington in early 1991. Since 1998 it has been publishing the Schumacher Briefings twice annually and has staged Schumacher Lectures, seminars and events in cities across the UK. In 2005 the Society decided to create a ‘think-do-tank’ and this led to the creation of the Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems, also based in Bristol.

In all, over 100 thinkers and practitioners from around the world contributed to the Schumacher Lectures. They were opened in 1978 by R.D Laing, Amory Lovins and Ivan Illich. Subsequent speakers included Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder, Joanna Macy and Vandana Shiva, Arne Naess and Robert Bly, Anita Roddick and Fay Godwin, Wangari Maathai and Susan George, Maneka Ghandi and Geta Mehta to name just a few. Audio copies of most of these lecturers will be made available online as and when we have the capacity to digitise them. Alongside the lecturers 16 Schumacher Briefings were published on subjects including ‘The Ecology of Health’, Gaian Democracies and Rethinking Community.

The Schumacher Society was closed in 2013 and relaunched in 2019.