E F Schumacher speaks with Young People, March 1977


The video : 55min58

Economist E.F. Schumacher lectured on Appropriate Technology at the Great Circle Center, University of Illinois, Chicago, in March, 1977. Schumacher advocated for the idea that ‘small is beautiful’, i.e., technology should be smaller-scale and economic provision more locally-oriented. This question and answer session with a class of adolescents and young adults, who had been reading the book ‘Small is Beautiful’, probably happened around his lecture.

Many of Schumacher’s ideas about economic and ecological sustainability were informed by concerns around « peak oil » around the 1970s, when many in the industrialized world realized fossil fuels were finite and could run out in several years. While Schumacher’s confidence that « peak oil » was close at hand has been disproved by history, global warming and climate change now bring new relevance to many of E.F. Schumacher’s alternative economic precepts.

The woman who speaks alongside Schumacher is believed to be Mildred Gillingham, a spiritualist and mother of Peter N. Gillingham, Schumacher’s associate and co-author.

0:00 Audience settling and initial introduction

2:30 Buddhist societies, role of women in different economic contexts

5:59 The two-bread winner family, wealth distribution, bargaining power

7:50 Intermediate Technology, regional unemployment

12:00 « Starting where you are » with social change

13:30 Political systems, energy costs

17:25 Self-reliance, « real learning »

21:20 Practical social change

24:40 Population distribution, rural economies

27:50 Localism

30:00 The idea of permanence in economics

33:00 Schumacher’s approach to economic analysis

38:00 Welfare policies

40:00 The energy crisis, the future

44:40 Attitudes to confronting social, political, and economic crises

49:15 On anxieties about the future

53:30 On baking one’s own bread

56:02 Closing

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