Founded in 1972, originally at the University of Edinburgh, CHE emerged during the first major flowering of the modern environmental movement. CHE has been involved in education, research and action for social and ecological justice ever since — both (occasionally fractiously) as part of academic institutions, and now as an independent educational charity and hybrid co-operative.

For twenty years, as a department within Edinburgh University, the Centre catalysed the creation of leading-edge research and education, culminating in the establishment of a Masters Degree in Human Ecology in 1991. In 1996 the Centre became a wholly independent organisation. The Masters programme continued, accredited via the Open University from 1999-2004 and the University of Strathclyde from 2005-2010.



The Centre was founded at the University of Edinburgh in 1972, originally as the School of the Man-Made Future, by Conrad Waddington in response to the challenge of the influential ‘Limits to Growth’ report published by the Club of Rome, of which he was a member.



MSc in Human Ecology

Ulrich Loening and colleagues establish the first MSc in Human Ecology in the UK


Conrad Waddington's 'Tools for Thought' published

CHE founder Conrad Hal Waddington’s introduction to systems theory and cybernetics was published posthumously


Land Reform Work Begins

Alastair McIntosh begins work on land reform through the Isle of Eigg Trust

1991 to 1995

MSc in Human Ecology

During this period, the Centre continued with its lecture series, and began to deliver its acclaimed MSc in Human Ecology, initially through Edinburgh University.


Lecture series: Ecology and Decision Making


Lecture series: The Land and the People



The COP26 climate negotiations took place in Glasgow on November 2021. We hosted a range of interventions, working closely with indigenous people.