About Us

Ardcairn - the 'High Cairn'


Cairns are way markers – they define paths and aid navigation across landscapes. Often made from piles of stones, they are created collectively, with stones added by those passing to help others on their way.


01. We see the lay of the land

We are explorers and designers. We like exploring the high paths, the vantage points. We shapeshift to gain a bird’s eye view of where trails are taking us. We use what we see to chart paths to sustainable futures.

02. We light the beacons

We think nature has the answers. We use natural laws and build prototypes to test new approaches to leadership, business, learning, development and living. We light the beacons so others can join us in our exploring and ideas.

03. We create the cairns

We take what we have learned and facilitate peer-powered, experiential learning. We help others apply the lessons to deliver sustainable practices. Collectively we create the cairns to help others navigate the landscapes of sustainability.


Meet our Associates

Cities of Learning UK received a HundrEd award and named one of the world’s top 100 education innovations in 2019.

Gráinne is listed on the Mozilla Monument, San Francisco, for her contribution to keeping the internet open.

Grainne Hamilton

Ardcairn Founder

Grainne is an explorer and designer. Her career has spanned television; higher education; corporate consultancy; authoring open standards, principles and practices; and running a natural soap eco-business! As founder of Ardcairn, she weaves together the multiple threads from the work she and her Associates have pursued over the years, combining them to create a tapestry of sustainability to help others create better futures. With our collective wisdom, we design new ways of leading, working, learning, developing and living.

Grainne has co-authored global standards, conceived pioneering prototypes, and facilitated conversations on ideal futures.

Some highlights include:

  • Being a contributing author to the Open Badges standard
  • Co-conceiving and creating the blueprints / prototype for digital open badge pathways
  • Co-conceiving and creating the blueprints / prototype for Cities of Learning UK (named one of the top 100 global education initiatives of 2019)
  • Facilitating peer-powered experiential learning using our Liminal Learning Model to explore better futures with government personnel


What We Do Best

Thought leadership

We explore the high paths, the vantage points and connect the dots


We have co-created award-winning concepts, blueprints and prototypes

Communities of Trust

We are experts at building trust and ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard

Co-creating solutions

We bring multiple perspectives together and explore the nuance in the conversation

Peer-powered learning

We excel at facilitating peer-powered experiential learning

Personal Development

We empower personal development through open recognition