Dave Beck, PhD

My wife, myself, and our three boys (aged 7, 5 and 2) live on a sailing catamaran, simply and happily. Though currently we can be found at anchor off Santa Bárbara de Samaná, a small town in the Dominican Republic, we’ll be somewhere else entirely in 12 months time.

Over the past three years we have sailed from the UK to here, welcoming our third son along the way. The whole experience has been life-changing, or at least life-reinforcing. Particularly crossing an ocean. There’s something about the utter-silence of a still afternoon 10 days into an ocean-crossing and the knowledge that there’s nobody except your family within several hundred miles, that centers you in the present in a way most people will never experience. And fills you with awe and wonder.

Before we sought the freedom of the open ocean, I held a wonderful academic job at Warwick University in the UK, as Director of Undergraduate Studies for Global Sustainable Development. My passion as an academic was for bringing a range of different ways of thinking to bear on problems, and for sharing that diversity of thought with my students. I wanted to tackle the innumerable and interconnected problems surrounding sustainability, and what better way to do this than through a cohort of engaged students? Previously, I had taught and researched in both History and Digital Humanities.

I honestly intended to go back to Warwick after a two-year sabattical sailing with my wife and young family. Perhaps that was self-delusion, or perhaps the intervening years changed our priorities. Either way, our family is not going to be settling on land again for a long time.

Since this lifestyle became open-ended, I have established a micro-business, tha.la, and work directly with a select few clients in a role you might call a “knowledge-coach”. I help visionaries (who I think are going to contribute something positive to the world) to make the most of their ideas and improve their lives – breaking out what they know, helping them to fill in gaps and connect dots that are often easier for an outside-brain to see.

I remain interested in anything that revolves around the complexity of our planet and our species. As a result my clients have ranged across biotech, relationship coaching, AI, education, agriculture, transport and plenty of other things… As an aspiring polymath, who loves teaching (the one thing I miss from what you landlubbers might call ‘normal life’), online education is a natural, inspiring, direction to take my professional work. That’s what this site and the projects that will develop from it are about.

I’m not particularly interested in other work or “opportunities” at present – while my kids are young I won’t work more than 20 hours a week regularly. As a result, I say “no” a lot. Don’t take it personally.