Training Programs & Alternatives to mainstream education
School and university do not offer you what you need?
Here’s another kind of education and training for people who have the courage to leave the well-trodden mainstream learning pathways to learn what’s really needed. Of course the list only shows a selection of what is currently being offered. If you know a training or an alternative path that is missing here, please let us know!
- Alternative Universities & Colleges
- Learning Paths & Programs
- Initiation Programs & Personal Development
Schumacher College – Totnes, England
The economist E.F. Schumacher, after which this place of education in English Totnes is named, was known as a consistent advocate of the insight of Leopold Kohr “Small is beautiful”. Schumacher College, part of an inspiring Transition Town community, has a name for self-determined, experimental learning. Here you can take a master’s degree in “holistic science”, “economy in transition” or “sustainable horticulture” or take part in open courses. The aim of the university is to inspire students to effectively address the social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century.
Leuphana University – Lüneburg, Germany
The Leuphana University in Lüneburg focuses on study and research in the areas of culture, sustainability, entrepreneurship and education in order to contribute to shaping society and engagement in the 21st century. The humanistic, sustainable and action-oriented university emphasizes responsibility, curiosity and initiative of the students and therefore developed a study model that enables networked, interdisciplinary thinking, dialogue and the combination of science and practice. The students start their first semester together, where basic knowledge and personal skills are imparted. Thereafter, apart from the choice of study program (major and minor), they can deepen social, linguistic, artistic or philosophical aspects through complementary studies.
Maharishi University – Iowa, United States
Founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi University is characterized by holistic awareness-based education that combines the development of consciousness, mind, body and action, and incorporates the practice of transcendental meditation. The goal is to fully develop the potential of each student – creativity, intelligence and contentment – and to help them think and act in harmony with the laws of nature, and lead a fulfilling and successful life. The programs range from economics, education, communication, mathematics, literature, to psychology & health and sustainable lifestyles. Students from all over the world learn in a so-called block system (one lesson per month) and apart from academic content, personal development, meditative awareness, active learning, organic, vegetarian food and respectful communication are emphasized.
Kaospilots Denmark – Aarhus, Denmark
The Kaospilots confidently call themselves the “Best School for the World”. Its three-year course, which takes place in Aarhus, Denmark, aims to help people achieve personal growth and a creative understanding of value-based entrepreneurship so that they can bring about social change. The fixed curriculum focuses on process design, team culture, project management, business and leadership, but offers through project units, which are carried out in cooperation with companies and organizations of the study groups, plenty of space for the independent design of the studies. The students already work in a practical capacity for NGOs or companies.
Quest University – British Columbia, Canada
Quest University offers only a four-year degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences for Bachelor students. In the first half, students will participate in small, interactive courses in five different main disciplines in a block system: Human Sciences, Life Sciences, Physics, Mathematics and Social Sciences. In the second half of the Bachelor’s program, with the support of a mentor, students develop their own concentration program based on an interdisciplinary question or field of research. This recessing phase allows practical work, e.g. a semester abroad, field studies or internships. The curriculum emphasizes communication, critical thinking, personal & intellectual development, community involvement and work ability.
Open University – London, England
The Open University is a online university that offers internationally recognized bachelor degrees. You can tailor your courses in many different directions and combinations. It is possible to focus on one topic and still learn beyond disciplines, as well as to change the course during the study period in order to follow the natural flow of your interests.
Gaia University International
Gaia University is an international non-institution for regenerative education and transformative action learning that offers recognized degrees for work in personal and planetary transformation. These programs train world changers working for local and global sustainability, justice and peace. The goal is to release human intelligence and to promote the emergence of a consistent, ecologically and socially regenerative culture. Inspired by ‘action learning’, students can make their own learning path flexible and self-determined – anywhere – while being supported by a global network of talented mentors. GaiaU is a vibrant international community where people learn and unlearn together through a holistic combination of online sharing, theoretical knowledge, documentation and hands-on projects.
Tiimiakatemia, Team Academy – Jyväskylä, Finland
“Tiimiakatemia” is the name of the three-and-a-half year business degree program of the JAMK University of Applied Sciences Jyväskyla, Finland, which ends with a bachelor’s degree. Students learn in groups that act as cooperative business models. There are no teachers, but counselors who support students in their projects, not a classroom, but a large, shared office. Through practice, you learn to manage your own business. After graduation, the study groups travel around the world, funded with the money they earned together during their studies.
Goddard College – Vermont and Washington, USA
Goddard’s programs combine part-time study with a rich campus experience with a flexible, individual online learning process. The mission is to create a culture based on in-depth research, cooperation and lifelong learning, where people act innovatively and responsibly in the world. Students can assemble their curriculum according to their own interests and passions and receive advice from trained faculty experts. The College offers courses in Sustainability, Creative Writing, Education, Psychology & Counseling, Interdisciplinary Arts, Health & Science, and Social Innovation based in Vermont and Washington, USA.
University for Peace – San Jose, Costa Rica
The United Nations-mandated Peace University offers Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies for students from around the world. Students receive high quality education in a unique atmosphere and focus on multicultural perspectives, theoretical and practical application. The goal is to provide an educational institution for peace, in human understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, as well as cooperation in line with the aspirations of the proclaimed United Nations Charter.
Peace Study University of Innsbruck – Innsbruck, Austria
The University of Innsbruck offers a unique master’s program in Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation. The faculty and students from around the world come together to explore our planetary understanding of peace and conflict transformation. The guiding principles are scientific, intercultural, interdisciplinary and practical experiences. Apart from academic education, the program also includes special field training to learn the skills necessary in real conflict situations. To encourage students to embark on an adventure of holistic physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual self-awareness, cultivating inner peace and engaging with societal and global issues.
Heliopolis University – Sekem, Egypt
Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development works with a new understanding that combines teaching, learning, research and practice. HU aims to develop social entrepreneurs who are capable of facing the global challenges and overcome them through innovation, cooperation and technology. During the course of study, students will work on their own projects in cooperation with companies using a solution-oriented approach. Therefore, new skills are developed by studying and applying skills in real life situations. It also allows students to set their own learning priorities, work motivated, and connect personal with business success. In summary, the program is anchored in solid academic education coupled with practical experience that addresses both entrepreneurial needs and inspiring people to innovate.
College of the Atlantic – Maine, United States
The Atlantic College enriches the humanities with a special educational philosophy – human ecology as a major subject. The human ecology perspective integrates knowledge from all academic disciplines and personal experiences to explore and improve the relationship between people and our social and environmental community. The College encourages, prepares, and expects students to gain the depth, value, and practical experience needed to personally fulfill and solve challenges. They have the opportunity to design their unique learning experience within a flexible and challenging educational framework. The focus is on art & design, environmental sciences and humanities.
Permaculture Design Diploma, Permaculture Academy – Germany
The permaculture designer training is based on the two-week permaculture design course (72h) and a hands-on training phase of two to three years part-time study. This training phase is supported by project work, a tutorial program and an event and workshop offer. During the training, students work on several small and large freely chosen permaculture projects, one of which is submitted as a final thesis and a separate documentation of the collected experiences and reflections. Due to the project-oriented education not only the students, but at the same time new ecological and social projects are being supported.
Pioneers of Change, Plenary Academy – Vienna, Austria
The course “Pioneers of Change”, offered by the Plenum Academy, sees itself as a practice-oriented support for agents of change towards a life-promoting culture. Spending more than a year learning professional project management tools in one-week courses or weekend seminars, it provides courage in dialogues with experienced pioneers and inspiring visionaries. These accompany the participants throughout the year in setting up a self-selected project and coach them also regarding questions about the financing of the project.
Academy of Visionautics – Berlin, Germany
The Academy of Visionautics in Berlin supports people in finding free spaces, creatively developing ambitious visions and implementing them professionally. It regularly organizes international “Visionautic Laboratories”. People who want to change something in their environment, but do not know how to get started, are as welcome in the academy as well as experienced project makers. There are also special offers for social entrepreneurs as well as trainings in which the learning and implementation methods of the visionauts are taught.
Knowledge nomads and creative entrepreneurs – Amsterdam, Netherlands
In the Netherlands, there are exciting study programs for young creative entrepreneurs. The informal, one-and-a-half-year study of “knowmads” aims to encourage students to become changemakers. During the last semester, Knowmads students start their own business and often finance their education. Another option is “THNK”, a part-time study for working people. During the first six months, the learning space alternates between one-week courses in Amsterdam and practical tasks, which are implemented within one’s own field of work. In the subsequent intensive course participants will face the challenge of starting or changing their business.
YIP – Youth Initiative Program – Järna, Sweden
“A year that makes sense” is the motto of this one-year anthroposophic education in social entrepreneurship for 18-25 year olds in Järna near Stockholm. In seminars and projects, “Yippies” learn how to develop their personal potential, create positive change in the world and put ideas into action. YIP supports a holistic understanding of humanity’s global challenges and empowers young people to use entrepreneurial principles and skills based on collaboration and ethical integrity, with the goal of shaping practical initiatives and personal change.
Embercombe – Exeter, England
Embercombe inspires people to contribute to the emergence of a socially equitable, ecologically and economically sustainable world as a central part of their work. As a nonprofit organization and social business, they offer programs for individuals, entrepreneurs, teachers and young people. A journey to discover what you love, what your gifts are and how to use those skills to act in the world. Embercombe encourages people to take leadership – inspiring, resolute and resilient. The programs provide sustainable change through team building, leadership, personal development, practical science, art and creative design.
Edventure – Frome, England
Edventure is a social enterprise that supports young adults in taking initiative and creating a vibrant, sustainable future for themselves and their community. They conduct a nine-month training in ‘social entrepreneurship’, which enables young people to build a project, business or self-employment. These projects and small social enterprises provide a training ground and learning opportunities, create a positive social and environmental impact that benefits the environment, and generate income for Edventure that covers the costs of the trainees so that the training can be offered free of charge.
Art Monastery Project – Italy and USA
The Art Monastery Project is an American non-profit arts organization dedicated to the cultivation of personal awakening and cultural transformation through art, community and contemplation. As a ‘social sculpture’, it understands communities and collaborations as a creative medium and appreciates the creative process and emerging experience while developing a wide range of performance and visual art. Art Monastery also has a worldwide network of ‘artmonks’ (artistic monks) and co-ordinates artist stays, performances, art projects in the new ‘aRt & D Labs’ in Hollywood, as well as a new one-month program in a monastery in Abruzzo, Italy.
The Unreasonable Institute – Colorado, USA
From five days to five weeks, Unreasonable Institute organizes programs for innovative entrepreneurs worldwide who want to tackle the biggest global challenge and develop working solutions. Entrepreneurs with the potential problems like poverty, lack of education and social injustice are brought together with selected mentors, investors and partners to increase their impact. Even after the program the link with a large global network of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors from over 50 countries persist forever. The institute provides essential resources to grow a successful business, with the goal of supporting each project to grow and having a meaningful impact on at least one million people each.
The Do School – Hamburg, Germany
The Do School is a global education platform dedicated to innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable business. It supports creators of all paths of life to put their ideas into action. The 21st century meets us with many challenges, but when we bring innovative ideas with entrepreneurial skills to life, we can inspire positive and meaningful change in the economy and the entire world. The Do School supports organizations and individuals in experiential learning programs, an online community, a network of experts, and their special method of developing dreams, focus, plan, and action through the four steps, empowering people to transform their visions into practical outcomes and to become reality.
The Be(e) School – Berlin, Germany
The Be(e) School aims to connect and educate people who are cooperatively and holistically committed to the well-being of life on the planet and who work with their personal contributions. For this purpose, the Be(e) School creates a space of diverse encounters by discovering, experiencing and applying new scope of action through a personal journey of discovery to one’s own potential and the experience of a greater community. The Be(e) -School is a place where personality development, potential development and social engagement uniquely combine and interact. This provides the best conditions to initiate or support your own transformation process. The framework of the annual group makes it possible to grow in communion with and through others and to follow one’s own life purpose.
Change School – Asia
The Change School is an institute for transformative learning that combines personal growth with entrepreneurial thinking and competence development. In the programs, they help people to align their values, life and work, to connect the points and to go ahead with clarity, self-confidence and emotional intelligence. Change School designs and delivers learning experiences such as learning retreats, team programs, and transformation studios that specifically appeal to people in times of change in their lives. It encourages and inspires participants to do more, be more and understand that there are no mistakes, only experiences.
Escape School – London, England
Unsatisfied and ambitious, the founders have abandoned their normal jobs and been looking for a platform to help them find new and exciting opportunities. There was none. So they’ve developed Escape as a bridge between the old and new world of work. Escape is becoming a community of talented professionals with interesting job opportunities worldwide, intensive programs for people serious about making a bold career change, and inspiring stories of job change and start-up. There are also small groups and supporting resources to find a new direction and fulfillment in the job or to start and develop a business.
Amani Institute – Nairobi, Africa
Aware of the huge gap between university education and the labor market, the Amani Institute (amani Swahili for Peace) has the mission to develop the next generation of talents to solve social problems. They are pioneers of a higher education model in which participants have the opportunity to gain intensive experience of cross-border work, to develop practical skills in the professional field, and to understand the personal transformation that this work requires in order to be effective and sustainable as an individual being. This method will be shared with a Social Innovation Management course taking place in Nairobi and open to people from all over the world.
School of Life – London, England
Dedicated to developing emotional intelligence through culture, the School of Life addresses issues around fulfilling work, the art of relationships, personal growth and world change. Headquartered in London, they are active worldwide and offer a variety of learning opportunities, from courses, therapy, books, movies to tools and objects that help people in their quest for a fulfilling life. There is also consultation and training in companies. School of Life creates a space to step back and engage intelligently with key emotional issues, drawing on a range of concepts from the human sciences, including philosophy, literature, psychology, and the visual arts – impulses that stimulate, train, and expand the mind. So a variety of curious, social, open-hearted people come together in an atmosphere of exploration and joy.
Ecovillage Design Education
The worldwide educational network of ecovillages Gaia Education organizes annual courses in various countries for the establishment of regionally effective, sustainable joint projects of all kinds. In Germany, they take place in the ecovillage Sieben Linden. One third of the participants come from countries of the South, mostly Africa, and so the course is an opportunity to get to know exciting, mostly young people from all over the world, to network with them and to start projects together. In addition, Gaia Education offers a one-year online course built around the four dimensions of sustainability – social, environmental, economic and cultural – that teaches the experiences and expertise of the most successful eco-village and transition initiatives worldwide. The goal is to provide a holistic, comprehensive education for sustainable culture.
Terra Nova School, Tamera – Portugal
The Terra Nova school is a global education platform designed to become a catalyst for global change. Initiated and coordinated by a group of young activists from Tamera in May 2013, it includes a growing network of self-organized groups in over thirty countries worldwide who are studying and redistributing the foundations of a new culture. It is an interactive, creative study with a supporting online platform and a curriculum consisting of four main areas, the spiritual, social, environmental and global levels. New groups receive study materials and meet weekly to gather new thoughts, exchange ideas, and initiate joint actions.
Earth Charter courses for young people
This initiative is a global network with the mission to contribute, in a holistic and systemic way, to the ongoing transformation towards a sustainable way of life on the planet. The developed Earth Charter provides an ethical framework for respect, community care, ecological integrity, universal human rights, diversity, social and economic justice, democracy and a culture of peace. These vision, values and principles can be used as guidelines in civil society, businesses and governments, and also support educational projects in schools, universities and other organizations. As part of this, annual free, interactive online courses on topics such as youth leadership, sustainability and ethics are offered to young people worldwide.
Possibility Management empowers you to develop your inherent potential and to live in a sustainable way. It’s a new and modern way of thinking to accelerate change in the physical, intellectual, emotional and energetic blocks that keep you and your team from using obvious but invisible possibilities. Internal barriers become fertilizer, doors, launchers or avoidable mud puddles on your development path. The profound transformational trainings represent a modern form of initiation into responsible adulthood.
Live Your Legend
Live Your Legend is a worldwide movement for meaningful work. TED Talks, Videos and Workshops encourage you to find and implement your vocation. In local groups and meetups, research, training and mutual support are carried out together. “Change the world by doing work you love” is the motto of this inspirational movement that spreads all over the world.
Follow Your Calling
Follow Your Calling helps you through practical workshops, trainings, and individual coaching to discover your vocation, find ways to implement that vocation in the world, and then follow these paths. The offer brings clarity, strengthens your self-confidence and helps you to remove obstacles and blockades from the path. It empowers you to go your own personal way.
True Purpose Institute
A home for change agents and leaders of organizations who feel called to create heaven on earth. Do you have a deep sense that you and possibly your organization are meant for something bigger? Is there a higher purpose that invites you to contribute to the creation of a new and better world? If so, you are a change agent, and the True Purpose Institute is here to help you achieve the impact you should have. Together we can change the world!