Dartington Social Justice

Our Dartington Social Justice programme works to increase understanding of social injustices, generates practical new solutions to tackle these, and aims to share our learning with others.

Our vision and beliefs: Our vision of a just society is one where all people are equally able to flourish as human beings and participate as citizens in their own unique ways. We believe there is no them, only us – and that a different, more equal future is not only possible but vital if we are to fulfil our full potential and protect our environment. We think this will only be achieved through action and change that addresses the many-sided and systemic nature of inequality and injustice – and that harnesses a wide range of actors, resources and approaches.

What we do and how

Our focus is on pioneering and generating increased social justice innovation through our work here at Dartington and beyond. It is one of the key ways Dartington is working to put our principle of embodying and inspiring a many-sided life for all into practice.

Social Justice Innovation uses the tools of innovation to tackle unfair inequalities and injustices as well as creating alternatives. A social justice innovation can be a new idea, small or large initiative, organisation or enterprise, method or even a movement. To be ‘innovative’ they don’t have to be something entirely ‘new’ , more likely they will be a new combination of existing ideas, approaches or disciplines.
We do this by bringing together the many sides of Dartington, as well as a range of other people and organisations working to advance social justice locally, nationally and globally, to:

  • Generate knowledge, learning and capacity in social justice innovation
  • Create or support new practical social justice innovations
  • Engage and influence policy makers and the public

Our current priorities include:

  • Developing new learning opportunities for contemporary and future social justice innovators
  • Exploring and strengthening the role of the arts in advancing social justice
  • Delivering practical place-based social justice innovations in a rural/semi-rural context

Our current and recent projects include:

Who we are

The Dartington Social Justice programme is part of and governed by the Dartington Hall Trust and Trustees.

Our work is developed and delivered with staff colleagues and volunteers from across the Trust. In addition, we work with a number of external associates and advisors experienced in both social justice and innovation.

Ceri Goddard


More about this person

Ceri leads the development and delivery of the DSJI strategy and programmes.

Previously Director of Equality and Gender Innovation at the Young Foundation she initiated the Gender Futures initiative which developed new gender equality innovation and gender lens investment frameworks and projects, as well as wider work to increase the equality impact of placed based social innovation and investment.

Prior to this she spent four years as Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, the UK’s leading campaigning organisation for women’s equality and rights. Before this, as Director of Practice and Development at the British Institute of Human Rights she led a range of national campaigns and practice initiatives to bring human rights to life in areas such as equality, health and social care, education, tackling poverty and strengthening the impact of civil society sector campaigning and advocacy.

As well as a number of roles building local, regional and national civil society equality organisations, she also worked for Ireland’s Combat Poverty Agency where she pioneered programmes to increase the voice and influence of traditionally excluded groups in national anti-poverty policy and the EU’s cross-border PEACE reconciliation programme. Her early career focused on local and regional level community development with a particular focus on generating and supporting local level equality organisations and campaigns in London and the regions.

She was previously Chair of the Women’s Resource Centre and trustee of the UK Equality and Diversity Forum and is currently a school governor at her daughter’s primary school in Totnes. An active fellow of the Young Foundation and the Royal Society of Arts, in 2016 Ceri was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University for public service and innovation in equality and social justice.

Owen Dowsett


More about this person

Owen supports the development and delivery of DSJI projects and programmes.

He joined the project in January 2018 having recently returned from a year volunteering and travelling in the Indian subcontinent. Owen previously worked for Developing Health & Independence where he managed income and data for a variety of services supporting substance misusers, people with a lack of suitable housing, and others facing everyday challenges.

Earlier in his career, Owen spent more than three years at the Economic and Social Research Council where he developed and managed a portfolio of social science research relating to the environment and climate change. He also has a Masters in Sociological Research from Lancaster University which involved research on the empowerment of asylum seekers and other marginalised groups through bicycle repair. As a freelancer he has undertaken research and written reports on how social enterprises can be innovative in the 21st Century and protecting the right to the city.

At other times Owen has organised a multi-venue music festival in support of Oxfam, run multiple half marathons and a solitary London Marathon, travelled to all sorts of interesting places, written about his experiences of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, tried to teach English to classrooms of bemused children, and delivered song-writing workshops to more groups of bemused children.

Why we are doing this

“Human values – care and respect for individuals; concern for one another; a sense of responsibility for our neighbour – were to be held above all others”

– Dorothy Elmhirst

From its very beginnings, progressive values and social justice goals have been at the heart of Dartington’s experiment in living and learning.

Over the last century we have brought these values to life through a wide range of activities and action – from hosting and championing radical social and economic policy thinkers, driving and supporting better frontline practice, and incubating or supporting local projects and services working directly with people and groups experiencing disadvantage.

Whilst there has been much social progress and change in that time, inequalities remain one of the defining challenges of our time threatening our social fabric, economic resilience and our environment; inequalities that mean that having a real chance of being able the live the kind of many-sided lives Dartington embodies and inspires is still the preserve of too few and certainly not yet something for the many.

However we do not believe such inequality and injustice is inevitable and we think change and alternatives are not only possible, but imperative. As Dartington steps up our work to embody and inspire a many-sided life we are committed to harnessing the many sides of our work to contribute to change.

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