GEDS How it works E-learning programme

Here is how the course works:

The full Gaia Education Design for Sustainability integrated online course consists of four dimensions of sustainability, plus a Design Studio, each lasting 8 weeks with a week break in between. There are five areas of study:

1. Social
2. Ecological
3. Economic
4. Worldview
5. Design Studio

Each dimension is in turn divided into five thematic modules, which together cover most key aspects, principles and frameworks for community design available from leading exponents of sustainability.

Each dimension comes with a package of reading materials, Internet links, references, and other study resources under each of its five modules.

Each module focuses on specific areas of sustainable design for their corresponding dimension. Modules also come with a set of activities, some of which are required for course completion, and some which are optional for those wishing to delve deeper into the topics presented in each dimension. The full course lasts 10 months. We made some activities optional because we recognise that you have a life, and that you may not be able to dedicate full time to the course. However, we encourage you to do all the activities and connect with your peers and cohort for a fuller learning journey.

After you successfully complete all reading and required activities for each dimension, you are invited to join a Design Studio. In the Design Studio you will be assigned a design team and a 'case study', supplied either by one of your teammates or the design instructor. This will also be divided into five modules of progressive design work, with the requirement that you complete a group design to present for a certificate at the end of the course.

Expected time of study:

Each of the four dimensions, plus the Design Studio, are scheduled to last 8 full weeks. Within those 8 weeks of dimension work, each module within the dimension will be scheduled for approximately 12 days. You will be expected to give a minimum of 80 hours per dimension, or 10 hours per week. This all brings the total amount of time for the course to approximately 10 months, including all four dimensions and the Design Studio.

You will have two years to complete the certificate. You can start with any of the four dimensions and skip to the next dimensions if your schedule becomes complicated, but you must finish the four dimensions before you can join a design team, and you must finish the whole course within two years to receive a certificate. If you cannot finish within that period you can request an extension by paying a small administrative fee.

Finally, you will be expected to spend a minimum of 48 hours (three days and two nights), in an immersion experience at an ecovillage or other sustainability project near you, to observe, comment, and write a critical paper (3-4 pages) on the way the site applies the principles and frameworks presented in the course.

Of course, you can dedicate more time than that if you are motivated to do so, but these are the minimum requirements to receive a certificate.

What will you do in each dimension during the course?

After you successfully enroll in the course, you will be given a user name and password to enter the virtual campus.

You will be sent this login information shortly before the course starts. That will get you into the Moodle platform where all the course materials and forums are located. Starting on October 21st we will conduct an orientation of the site and how to engage in the course, so you can get familiar with the site and the way the course works. You will then be instructed to download the first module of the Social Dimension of the course. Each dimension will then follow the same pattern.

2/3 of the time will be dedicated to reading and research from the supplied study materials, and from internet links and searches. 1/3 of the time will be dedicated to completing the required, and optional, activities provided for each module.

You will be expected to read and contribute to the forum postings, at least once per module. This is where your fellow students will also be contributing ideas, discussions and additional peer learning opportunities.

Course facilitators will schedule several live conferences during each dimension. These are optional, and will be recorded for future viewing. They will take place over Fuze, Skype, Google Hangout, or other suitable platform for conferencing across the globe in real time. The facilitators will schedule these live conferences.


15 October: One week of orientation to the Moodle Platform

21 October to 21 December 2015: Social Dimension

4 January to 29 February 2016: Ecological Dimension

7 March to 2 May 2016: Economic Dimension

9 May to 4 July 2016: Worldview Dimension

11 July to 5 September 2016: Design Studio

30 September 2016: End of course and Issue of certificates


In a nutshell - in order to get the final certificate students have to:

read the course materials and do the required activities

present the application of the content into a real life situation - case study

spend 48 hours immersion in an Ecovillage or Sustainability related Institution/Organization

Let us know if you have further questions by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We are looking forward to having you in the course!