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1 July 2021: “Reshaping Development” – Transformative Education at the University of St. Gallen

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

This undergraduate course, on “Reshaping International Developing - Pioneering Cases from Five Continents", held at one of Europe’s most prestigious business and economics universities, is already in its tenth iteration, and has become a role model for transformative education. This course is hosted at Home for Humanity and based on TRANS4M’s pioneering approach to Integral Development that interlinks inner (personal)

and outer (organisational and societal)


Following the Integral Development framework and process, students are simultaneously exposed to cutting edge theory and practice – while also working on critical development issues together with integral partner organisations from around the world. Thereby, new knowledge is co-created jointly by the students and partner organisations, which is of direct relevance for the organisations as well as for the international development field at large.

This course, hence does not deal with ‘past’ case studies (as in the Harvard Business School case study approach). Rather, it is about “co-creating the future”, in jointly with pioneering role models of integral development.

A Unique Design – Co-Creating a Transcontinental Innovation Ecology to Address a Shared Burning Issue

This year’s course follows a unique design. Five pioneering cases in the field of integral, regenerative development across five continents, all integral partner organisations of TRANS4M and Home for Humanity, are brought together in this course to present students with a special task whose solution aims to be of great shared benefit for all cases. At the same time, this task provides students with the opportunity to practically contribute to a critical issue in the field of international development. The course is designed as a transformative journey, and the constellation of partner organisations, students and course teacher is shaped into an “interactive innovation ecology” in which all parties join as co-creators of new integral solutions. Thereby we also transcend the conventional boundary between academia and grassroots communities, by forming a co-creative knowledge-to-innovation-ecology – with a focus on generating locally relevant and locally owned knowledge-and-innovation.

Cases: Pioneering Development Organizations on all Continents

All five cases are embodied role models of integral development, who have collaborated long-term with TRANS4M and applied the Integral Worlds model in their organisations. At the same time, based on their direct experienced and practice, they have developed or are developing institutes or processes for transformative education, to help groom a new generation of transformative leaders. The cases, their respective educational entities, and the particular focus are:

Africa: Integral Homestead “Integral Kumusha” (and Nhakanomics Research Center)

Focus on Integral Homestead & Regenerative Community Economics

Americas: Sinal do Vale, Brazil (and the Agents of Transformation School)

Focus on Regeneration of Ecosystems, Communities & Individuals

Asia: Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka (and the SIHL Sarvodaya Institute for Higher


Focus on Awakening of All (from Self to Society) Integrated Community

Development / Disaster Management / Development Finance

Middle East: Sekem, Egypt (and the Wahad Learning Farm and SekemSophia Program)

Focus on Greening the Desert and Biodynamic Agriculture

Europe: Home for Humanity, France (with TRANS4M Academy for Integral Transformation)

Focus on ‘co-creating a just, regenerative Earth Civilization’ based on the art and science of integral transformation through transformative education

The Critical Issue of Concern for all Cases – Developing a Regenerative Resourcing Strategy

This is a challenge faced in common by all the participating organisations and aims to strengthen each Institutions’ long-term viability. At the same time, it contributes to a pressing challenge in the field of international development and to the realization of SDG 17 (“partnership for the goals”). Here is the context: The existing mainstream economic model is socially, economically and ecologically unsustainable and increasingly failing us. It has led, over time, to dramatic income and wealth disparities as well as socio-economic, ecological and cultural injustices across the planet. With the COVID crisis exacerbating this situation, many development institutions worldwide – in particular also social enterprises, community development initiatives, and small-to-medium sized enterprises – have come under enormous financial pressure. COVID expenditures have caused donor countries to shrink their development funding (for example the UK government already announced by mid 2020 a reduction of GBP 2.9Bn in aid ( The way forward will need to include innovative forms of what we call “regenerative resourcing” – enabling institutions to generate and attract the necessary financial funds (from income generation, to donor funding, to gifting etc.) on the one hand, while tapping into complementary forms of “resourcing” that strengthen the organisation in a holistic manner. Such complementary forms of “resourcing” include, for example: social, cultural, knowledge (ideas, innovations etc.) and political resources (policies). All participating case organisations face the challenge of “regenerative resourcing” alike. This is not only because conventional donor funding (external) proves to be an ever more uncertain foundation for any development organisation to rely on; it is also because there is an urgent need to strengthen the internal capacity to “resource regeneratively”. “Internal”, in this context, refers to the organisation, the community it serves and its wider ecosystem of supportive contributors (across all sectors of society).

The Task

Student Teams and local Case Teams will work together to evolve existing practices of regenerative resourcing in each organisation and come up with innovative new sources and practices. The Student Team will process and present the outcomes in a coherent Integral Regenerative Resourcing Strategy, showing how different forms of resourcing mutually reinforce each other.

Reflections on the Course by Amber de Smedt, Course Assistant and Participant

As part of the University of St. Gallen’s course “Reshaping International Development - Pioneering Practices across Five Continents” with Home for Humanity and TRANS4M, we (I, along with 20 other students) had the great honour of participating in the so-called “Course Intensive”: a week of inspiring sessions and incredible guests. On the first day, Prof. Schieffer welcomed us from Home for Humanity’s front door. Throughout the days, he (and his dog, Che) took us to his home’s surroundings, to the forest, to the water, to listen to the wind, and it almost felt like we were there too. Dr. Rama Mani and Marc l’Eplattenier did us the honour of introducing us even further to Home for Humanity. However, we were not only transported to France; with our hearts and minds open, we travelled to Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Egypt, with regular pit stops in France.

Though we might have been quasi-strangers at the beginning of our journey, we certainly weren’t by the end. Prof. Schieffer motivated us to reflect on and share the concerns dearest to us, the symbols, words, and phrases that mean most to us. This is how I learned that, for some of my peers, reforming and improving education lies at the heart of their passions; for others, it is the integration of immigrants. For me, it is combating global inequality through education. These futures may seem more or less far away for each of us; mine still feels out of reach (and I suspect it will remain so for some time), but discussing it during the course as if it weren’t - as if I would wake up tomorrow and live this future - felt intimidating at first, surreal (in the best way) all throughout. Prof. Schieffer challenged us to commit to shaping our own future, based on the issues that we care about and fuelled by the amazing work the Home for Humanity partners shared with us during the week. We started off strong with Dr. Daud and Christina Taranhike, whose love and respect for each other and for their work was unmistakable, and quickly made us all realise this would not be a course like the others. This was confirmed throughout the entire week by the wonderful people who gave us the honour of their time: Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Udesh Fernando, Nilantha Jayanetti, Chamindha Rajakaruna, Thais Corral, Katie Weintraub, Annia Costermani, Dr. Maximilian Abouleish-Boes, Randa Mohamed Wafik, and Titus Palivan. It is difficult not to be left speechless after such a week, so I will say the one thing I am sure of: thank you.

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