Economic Dimension

Programme Overview

Type: e-Learning
Start Date: June 3, 2024

Study Time:
10 hours/ week
With Facilitators
Registrations: until June 18, 2024

Developed by:

An increasing amount of people know that our current economic system is no longer sustainable, yet awareness of alternative finance is spreading slowly. Our aim in this online course is to give you a better understanding of those alternatives and the true meaning of economy and wealth. Participants will learn about existing systems and tools that are useful, and will explore what it might take to re-design those that have proven dysfunctional.

Never has there been a better time and a more urgent need to create a more resilient and participatory future by turning our attention to the redesign of economic systems. If you feel stuck or uncertain about what you can do and want to take part in this redesign of economic structures, this e-learning programme is for you. 

To do nothing is to accept that the answer to our problems is more economic growth – more production, more consumption, more highways, more buildings, more logging, more fishing, etc, which keeps us in a vicious degenerative circle.

Development in economy does not have to mean financial growth!

Interested in a Master's or PhD in Sustainability?

We now partner with Ubiquity University and you can continue your education obtaining a Master's or PhD once you have completed your GEDS.

More information here

In the Economic Design online course, you will learn how to engage with the transformation and redesign of your local economies, and where to start the process of becoming a social entrepreneur, starting a cooperative or a community project.

Graduates of our programmes have gone on to contribute to sustainability projects, build communities, become social entrepreneurs, create celebrated permaculture projects, biodynamic farms, transition town initiatives, successful consultancies and businesses and much more.


Economic Dimension

Our current economic system is no longer sustainable, yet few are aware of the alternatives to battle these economic issues. Our aim is to give you a better understanding of those alternatives and the true meaning of economy and wealth. Participants will learn about existing systems and tools that are useful to explore how to redesign those that have proven dysfunctional and harmful, and offer alternatives based on already tested methods. 

In the Economic dimension you will address the following questions:

  • What are the root causes and design faults of our current dysfunctional economic and monetary systems? What does economic growth mean and how can we redefine it? 
  • How can we take local, regional and global action to shift the global economy towards sustainability and regeneration?
  • What kind of complementary currency systems, community banks and local investment vehicles can help us to strengthen local and regional economies in global collaboration?
  • Why is Gross Domestic Product an insufficient measure of wealth and wellbeing and what alternative indicators already exists?
  • What methods and models are currently emerging in the field of new economics and the gift economy to support collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer collaboration?
  • How can we learn from successful experiments to support local economies and promote social innovation and entrepreneurship?
  • What legal and financial considerations are important for the creation of successful regenerative enterprises and sustainable business models?

In the Economic dimension you will learn:

  • To assess the impact of the global economy in your projects
  • To find out economic opportunities in your projects and develop them within the model of a social enterprise
  • To understand how to create a complimentary currency
  • About alternatives like circular economy, methods to prevent stagflation, alternative to world gdp while achieving economic sustainability
  • To create a business plan for your projects
  • To find ethical financial opportunities for your projects

Course Content

Module 1: Shifting the Global Economy Towards Sustainability and Regeneration

This module explores in depth why the current economic systems no longer serve all – not even most – of humanity, while having a degenerative impact on communities, societies and the environment.

It invites you to explore the economy from a whole systems perspective and suggests how we might be able to re-design our economic system in ways that serve all people and the planet.

Module 1 explores the following questions:

  • Why is economics not a science but a system designed by human beings and therefore open to redesign?
  • How have so called ‘externalities’ and hidden subsidies resulted in an economic system that drives us to live beyond planetary boundaries?
  • What is the role of international institutions, like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, and how do the lobbies of multinational corporations influence economic policies?
  • What are the best places to intervene in the system in order to shift the global economy towards sustainability?
  • What are some promising signs of hope that the redesign of our economic systems is already underway?

Module 2: Community Banks and Currencies

We examine the basic design of our current monetary system and why it is structurally dysfunctional, driving inequality and creating a systemic need for economic growth.

We also explore a wide range of locally and regionally-based complementary currency systems and other existing alternatives.

Module 2 asks:

  • Why is the debt-based monetary system that charges differential interests for loans and deposits structurally unsustainable?
  • How could we re-design our monetary system and introduce more diverse currency types to create a more sustainable and resilient international economy?
  • What is the role of locally and regionally-based investment systems, micro-credit, micro-finance and crowdfunding in creating a more sustainable economy?

Module 3: Right Livelihood

In Module 3 we start by taking a closer look at why Gross Domestic Production or GDP is an insufficient economic indicator and what alternative national and international indicators already exist. Local and community scale indicators for economic vibrancy and well-being are examined next, along with participatory budgeting, a look at guiding values for economic life and at how collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer networks are already offering new pathways to engaging in right livelihood.

Module 3 helps you find answers to the following questions:

  • In the redesign of our economic systems at local, regional, national and global scale, what might be the role of new kinds of indicators and ways of measuring the success of an economy?
  • What guiding ethics for economic life would help us in the creation of a sharing economy based on peer-to-peer collaboration and collaborative consumption?
  • What shift in perspective and practice might enable us to design for generosity, trust and participation in the service of a common good?

Module 4: Revitalising Local Economies and Social Innovation

This fourth module is all about how we might strengthen economic activity at the local and regional scale and thereby increase community resilience and create the enabling conditions of the political ideal of subsidiarity.

We explore how to ‘plug the leaks’ that drain local wealth in favour of multi-nationals and their shareholders, and offer examples of effective economic localisations around the world. We also investigate how social innovation and entrepreneurship, along with the creation of regenerative enterprise ecologies at the regional scale are all part of this transition towards a world where a strong global economy is the result of effective collaboration between vibrant local and regional economies.

Module 4 asks:

  • How can a shift towards a stronger solidarity economy create thriving and resilient communities and regions and what is the role of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in this transition?
  • Where can social innovators and entrepreneurs find support in communicating, financing and identifying opportunities for socially and ecologically regenerative development?
  • What opportunities, challenges and lessons can we draw from looking at the economic experiments and eco-social enterprises that have been created within ecovillages around the world?
  • What might characterise a regenerative enterprise and how do we set about creating one and linking it to like-minded businesses in its location?

Module 5: Legal and Financial Issues

Since good advice on running a social enterprise, how to design a sustainable business model and knowing what types and sources of finance and which legal structures you have to work with, all determine the success and effectiveness of your enterprise and/or project, Module 5 starts by addressing these issues. It also takes a closer look at the role of cooperatives, ‘the commons’ and ‘open source’ collaboration, as well as the kind of legal reforms that might be necessary to create truly regenerative cultures and economies.

Module 5 poses the following questions:

  • What is a business model canvas and can I use it to design sustainability and regeneration into my project’s business model?
  • How do I choose between different types and sources of finances, and what legal structures might best serve my/our business/project?
  • Where might I find help in preparing a feasibility studies and the business plan for my/our project/business?
  • What new ways of sharing ownership and access to resources, of innovating together and sharing intellectual property, and of establishing legal foundations for a regenerative culture are already being explored?


One of the best aspects of our courses are our facilitators: Gaia Education facilitators are usually experienced facilitators who are deeply involved in their own communities and "walk the talk", embracing in their own lives the practices and concepts they share with participants. Many of our facilitators are also Gaia Education Certified Trainers and/or recognized facilitators in other networks, including the Work That Reconnects Network, Permaculture Womens Guild, the Transition Network, etc. 

Della Z Duncan

Della is a Work that Reconnects Facilitator and Renegade Economist who supports individuals working to better align their values with their work as a Right Livelihood Coach, helps transition businesses beyond capitalism as a consultant, and hosts the Upstream Podcast, challenging mainstream economic thinking through documentaries and conversations including: Our Struggles are Your Struggles: Stories of Indigenous Resistance and Regeneration and A World without Profit: In Conversation with Jennifer Hinton. Della is also a Senior Fellow of Social and Economic Equity at the International Inequalities Institute in the London School of Economics, the Course Development Manager of Fritjof Capra’s Capra Course on the Systems View of Life, a Gross National Happiness Master Trainer, a founding member of the Doughnut Economics California Coalition (DECC), and a Senior Lecturer at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Santa Cruz Permaculture, Vital Cycles Permaculture, and Gaia Education. Della has facilitated dozens of Work that Reconnects retreats in over 10 countries over the past decade and enjoys weaving invitations for regenerative livelihoods and finances into her WTR offerings. Della is also the co-creator and co-facilitator of our Cultivating Regenerative Livelihoods course.

Naresh round
Naresh Giangrande

Co-founder of Transition Town Totnes, the first Transition Town, and of Transition Training, Naresh has been involved in designing, running and evolving many of the events, groups, and trainings that have been at the heart of the enormously successful Transition Towns movement. As one of the initiators, he has delivered hundreds of Transition Trainings to thousands of participants in twenty countries that has lead to a local project in South West England becoming a world wide movement in over 50 countries.He has also delivered hundreds of talks and interviews on issues relating to Transition and regenerative culture.   

He co-designed and co-facilitated the first Deep Adaptation Deep Dive in December 2018, and is part of a group, along with Dr Jem Bendell, who are exploring what ‘Deep Adaptation’ means both personally and as a society.   

He lead a team with Gaia Education developing new ways of delivering regenerative education fro meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). You can read our paper here

He and Liam Kavanaugh of Life Itself are facilitating  Contemplative Activism. Contemplative Activism is seeing the world as it is, and learning to act and be when we have no ground under our feet, drawing on the world’s contemplative traditions.

Before the Transition movement took over his life he lived and worked in an eco community, was Managing Director of a landscape company, a gaffer in the film industry, and taught meditation.

He is joyfully aware of the preciousness of life, his capacity for love, and his own mortality. He is father to two lovely daughters and two equally gorgeous grandchildren. 


Certificate of Completion

Upon certification you will have the background and confidence to take an active role in designing for sustainability, resilience and regeneration, both professionally and personally, working for small and large- scale community projects, eco-social enterprises or transition initiatives in civil society, the public sector or business.

You will feel ready to offer your contribution and facilitate others to contribute to the collaborative transformation of our existing communities, institutions and neighbourhoods towards more sustainable and regenerative patterns of being and doing in the world.

What is more, you will be able to support yourself and others in leading healthier, more joyful and more meaningful lives.

To receive a Certificate of Completion students need to engage in all four dimensions plus the Design Studio over a 14-month period. However, the dimensions do not need to be completed within the same year. For those who require more time it is also possible to complete within 36 months, once registered in the full programme. At the end of their participation students will have successfully completed the minimum required activities for each dimension and a satisfactory team-design project.

Read more about the Design Studio here


  • The Economic Design course will run every year and runs for 8 weeks (including an orientation period).
  • We suggest you dedicate a minimum of 10 hours a week to receive maximum benefit from this programme.
  • If you register early, you are able to get a discount. The full price of this programme is £350 GBP.
  • A limited number of full and partial scholarships are available. We will be accepting scholarships until May 20 and will notify the results by May 25. (please read below for more information before you apply)
  • For further information, please email:

The Economic dimension can be taken as a stand-alone programme or as the starting point for our 10-month online Design for Sustainability certificate course.

After completing the Economic dimension, you will be equipped with the understanding and skills to become a confident change maker in social issues of sustainability.

Graduates of our programmes have gone on to contribute to sustainability projects, build communities, become social entrepreneurs, partake in permaculture projects and bio-dynamic farming, support transition movements and much more.

A limited number of full and partial scholarships are available. We will be accepting scholarships on an ongoing basis but there are deadlines that depend on when each dimension starts, scholarships are offered only for individual dimensions. Please note that scholarships are awarded one course at a time and never for the full program. Awarding successive courses is dependent on your completion of the courses and performance. Applications to partial or work-trade scholarships are more likely to be approved. Incomplete applications will not be processed. To apply please fill out this form up to two weeks before the course you want starts. Please refer to the course page for information about dates and deadlines.