The Feral MBA: Business Boot Camp with a Difference

The Feral MBA

The pilot of a new Feral MBA programme was run in Hobart (Tasmania, Australia) over 5 weeks in February and March, with the first graduating group celebrating the completion of the programme just one day before the first COVID-19 case was reported in Tasmania.

The Feral MBA is a radically re-imagined training course in business for artists and others that challenges business-as-usual concerns for competition, productivity and growth by arming participants with experimental skills and critical materials to consider and produce alternatives.

Over five weekends, the programme included a crash-introduction to mainstream business and economic theory, an exploration of radical contemporary alternatives (including community economies theory and its transformative focus on economy as a practice of surviving well together), field trips to local art/business exemplars, and a reappraisal of the ‘dull’ spaces of paperwork, management and administration as potential sites for wild imaginaries and meaningful work.

The programme was run by UK-based trade artist, feral economist and CEI member Kate Rich, with grassroots assistance in Hobart from artist, boxer and farmer Grace Gamage.

Rich explains that the term feral is used “to describe an approach that is wilfully wild, as in pigeon, as opposed to romantically or nature-wild, like the wolf.”

“Feral business training means attending to the lived and pragmatic experiences of securing livelihoods while not forgetting that things are also negotiable, experimental and even fantastical.”

“The process of producing the Feral MBA reflects this type of training with the pilot program being offered at no-cost to participants, and resourced through deals considered and struck, which included hosting and workshop spaces, a loaned bicycle, business coaching, boxing training, childcare manoeuvres, vegetable harvests, screen-printing, ride sharing, laser printing, cookie baking, spare room hospitality, airport drop-offs and door bitching.”

“Looking back on the programme from across the COVID-19 line, it is clear that the Feral MBA has a crucial contribution to make by recasting business as a space of agency and encounter with others, thereby cultivating the art of doing business in and for uncertainty.”

A report on the pilot programme is available here.

Associated feral activities include the Feral Livelihood Coaching Collective that was founded in mid-2020 as a small translocal team of artists, designers and ecologists who decided to take up the challenge and intrigue of coaching in their own communities. This collective includes Rich and fellow CEI member Bianca Elzenbaumer (co-founder of Brave New Alps who also runs the Alpine Community Economies Lab).

Jenny Cameron