A one-year professional development programme for sustainability leaders.
The Natural Change Leadership programme is a unique and proven approach to sustainability leadership development. It is for leaders who want to respond to our urgent ecological situation by bringing about transformational change in their team, organisation or sector.
Natural Change works by aligning our psychological sense of who we are with the biological reality of what we are - an interconnected part of nature. It does this through skillfully facilitated outdoor experiences combined with a deep exploration of our personal and cultural psychology. The process of transformation starts with personal experience and moves outwards to generate organisational and social change - through a different kind of leadership.
The aim of the programme is to build a professional community - across sectors - who are resilient and tenacious in their commitment to leading change. It will crack-open fresh, powerful new forms of leadership based on a deep personal connection to nature. It will nourish this process though profound psychological insights combined with the development of a strong and supportive peer-community.
Natural Change has been developed through over 20 years of international research, development and professional practice. During this time it has directly influenced sustainability practice to national government policy level, as well as through numerous organisational and personal initiatives.
The course provides 12 days of contact time and nine hours of coaching over a one-year period. It demands a considerable commitment of time and resources - commensurate with addressing the unprecedented scale and speed of the ecological challenges of our era.
We are at a critical moment in human history. The evidence is now beyond scientific doubt that we are exceeding our planet's capacity to provide resources and process pollution. The impacts are already being experienced, especially by those living in poverty. They will impact everyone alive today, including you and I. They will drastically impact future generations.
Reformist and managerial responses to these ecological challenges are no-longer enough on their own. The window for simple, easy actions has closed. To address interconnected and global-scale issues like global warming and biodiversity loss, for example, it is now going to take a fundamental shift in the way we understand ourselves in relation to the rest of nature. This includes challenging some of the basic cultural assumptions by which we currently live.
We can no longer rely only on science and technology and on environmental management or conservation for solutions. We must actually change who we think we are to match the biological reality of what we are - animals living in an ecosystem. This is a psycho-social and cultural task that will require extraordinary leadership.
Every individual and organisation has a role to play. Those that contribute and align themselves to ecological systems will survive and those that don’t, will not. This may sound overly dramatic but it is a simple, inevitable ecological truth.
Fortunately, there are actions we can take to avert - and in many cases reverse - the damage. But nature will not wait and our efforts to lead change so far have been too small and too slow. It’s time for a fresh approach to sustainability leadership.
The Natural Change Leadership Programme has been developed through over 20 years of professional practice and research. It first emerged through WWF-Scotland’s ‘Natural Change Project’, which identified people who held positions of influence within Scottish society, offering them life-changing experiences of wild places. It then went on to support the growth of these personal experiences into leadership and action for an ecologically sustainable future.
The project has resulted in some profound organisational and social changes over the last ten years. This includes, for example, embedding learning for sustainability into Scotland’s national school curriculum. An outcome which today directly influences over one million young people every year - and for which Scotland was recognised by UNESCO in 2015 as a global sustainability leader.
The Natural Change Leadership programme is now available in the UK, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
Is it for me?
Natural Change is for leaders who want to respond to our urgent ecological situation by bringing about transformational change in their team, organisation or sector. But transformative change is only possible if we break through the cultural conditioning that causes us to think and behave as if we are not part of nature. That’s why Natural Change opens the space for a deep emotional and psychological shift. This shift enables you to think, feel and act in tune with nature and to find exceptionally effective ways of leading change for sustainability.
Natural Change maximises the positive effects of extended time in wild places to engage the full range of human capacities. This creates a powerful mix of logic, emotion, instinct and imagination. Natural Change provides an unrivalled opportunity to reflect profoundly and explore how you and your organisation will respond to the defining challenges of our age.
Natural Change is suitable for leaders that are either newly concerned or have a long-standing commitment to sustainability.
It is recommended that you bring around five years of professional leadership experience to the programme. However, each application is considered individually, so please do ask if you’re not sure.
By the end of the course you will:
- gain powerful insights into personal and social psychology that can be applied to leading change for sustainability;
- sharpen your sense of purpose and commitment to bringing about transformational change;
- deepen your love of nature to make leading for sustainability liberating and inspiring;
- build a personal framework for leading change - based on your own experience and appropriate to your own unique context;
- explore the relationships between ourselves, the cultures in which we live and the environment upon which we all depend;
- find ways to communicate more clearly and effectively about sustainability issues;
- learn how to create psychologically savvy change strategies based on ecological principles;
- discover how to better engage stakeholders using psychological concepts and techniques;
- find ways to sustain yourself in challenging times and to transform overwhelm into action;
- explore ways to cope with personal and collective eco-trauma, climate grief and eco-anxiety;
- become part of a unique professional peer community to give and receive support and find new opportunities and initiatives;
- develop strategies for dealing with conflict around ecological issues;
- investigate how to research and evaluate change initiatives using cutting-edge methods;
- tap into your creativity to help a more vibrant, beautiful and sustainable world emerge.
|Preparation||1 x One-to-one online coaching session (one hour)|
|Workshop ONE||1-day workshop in an urban centre.|
|Residential ONE||5-days (6-nights).|
|Online learning & Coaching||Guided reading
4 x one-to-one, online coaching sessions (one hour each)
|Residential TWO||5-days (6-nights).|
|Coaching||4 x One-to-one, online coaching sessions (one hour each)|
|Workshop TWO||1-day workshop in an urban centre.|
|Coaching||OPTIONAL: Ongoing coaching support.|
|Consultancy||OPTIONAL: Support with a professional project|
Total contact time: 12 days over 12 months (1+5+5+1)
Total coaching time: 9 hours over 12 months
David Key is a consultant, group facilitator, teacher and coach specialising in ecopsychology - the psychology of the our human relationships with the rest of nature.
Dave has a background in outdoor education, ecology and psychology. His special interest is in the ways experiences of nature can be powerfully transformative. His professional practice is mainly through the design and delivery of outdoor-based programmes for sustainability leadership and the design and facilitation of therapeutic outdoor experiences. He has also taught and researched extensively in the academic sector and is an internationally published author.
Over the last 20 years Dave has worked with clients such as the World Wide Fund for Nature, The Australian Conservation Foundation, the Scottish Government and the European Union, as well as with numerous academic institutions and private individuals seeking professional development.
He holds a Masters of Science (with distinction) in Human Ecology, is a Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology, a Visiting Research Fellow at the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University and an Honorary Research Fellow at Exeter University. He also holds a New Zealand Certificate in Adult Teaching (1&2). He is a National Governing Body qualified outdoor leader in both the United Kingdom(MTUK & BCU) and New Zealand (NZOIA).
The programme can be offered in various locations in New Zealand and Australia.
Subject to location and final specification.
Includes: 50 hours (APPROX) of residential contact time on a maximum 1:12 basis, 12 nights accommodation, residential catering and group equipment. Nine hours online contact time on a 1:1 basis, access to an extensive library of readings, reading guide, private online forum and alumni network.
Excludes: Travel to/from residential venue, personal travel and possessions insurance, personal outdoor clothing and equipment.
Residential start at 16.00 on Sunday evening. Please arrive by 15.00 so that you have time to settle in to your accommodation before starting on time.
The course finishes after breakfast on Saturday morning, departure by 10.00am.
Once your place on the course is confirmed, further information is sent to you about equipment, travel, accommodation and other preparations.
It is essential that you have access to a good broadband or 4G mobile network connection for online sessions. Please do not connect from a public space like an internet café or public library, as this nearly always leads to a poor quality experience.
You do not need to read anything before the course starts. However, an initial reading list will be sent to you once your place has been confirmed, in case you’d like to explore!
What to bring
We will be outside everyday, sometimes for the whole day, whatever the weather! There may also be time spent outdoors at night. While there will be a group shelter in case of very bad weather, you will need to bring the right clothing and equipment to be comfortable outdoors. It is very important that you come prepared. If you have any questions about clothing or equipment, please get in touch.
This course is not a test of endurance! We are committed to creating an experience accessible to a wide range of abilities. We lead the programme to meet the needs of everyone in the group while also recognising than a little bit of a challenge can be a helpful thing. Everything we do is offered as an invitation. You will never have to do anything you don’t want to.
As a guideline, you will need to be able to carry a day pack containing your personal equipment (waterproofs, spare clothes, lunch, flask, etc.) for periods of up to four hours at a time, in a natural environment, often without formed paths.
If you are unsure about your ability to take part for any reason, please make a note on the application form and/or contact us as soon as possible to discuss your needs.
Accommodation is usually on a twin-share basis with shared facilities. Single rooms are sometimes available by negotiation with the rest of the group. Bedding and towels are provided.
All meals, snacks and drinks are provided throughout, prepared fresh every day by our own cook.
Safety & Insurance
David Key has over 20 years experience delivering outdoor-based programmes world-wide. He holds National Governing Body outdoor leadership qualifications in both the United Kingdom (MTUK) and New Zealand (NZOIA).
He holds an outdoor first aid certificate and undertakes regular CPD training. During the delivery of a course, he has direct access to supervision support from a registered psychotherapist.
Risk assessments are completed for every location. These are reviewed each time an activity is delivered.
The course is currently available on a bespoke basis for groups of up to 12 people. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss the options.
The course may be offered as an open programme from March 2021.