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ecovillage design web

By Karen Stupski and Giovanni Ciarlo

Ecovillages are fun places to live and put into practice sustainable life styles, but they are also powerful sites of learning where people can discover and practice new ways of knowing, being, and doing, and create a more sustainable, peaceful, and socially just world.

From ecological practices such as permaculture and natural building to social skills such as decision-making and facilitation, ecovillages provide an abundance of learning opportunities. A partnership between Goddard College and Gaia Education enables students to earn college credit for their ecovillage-based learning. This partnership also creates the possibility for students to design a college experience that includes learning in ecovillages and other organisations doing cutting-edge work in sustainability and social and ecological justice.

Why are ecovillages such powerful sites of learning? It is not just the immersion in the physical location and ecological technologies that make ecovillage-based learning so powerful, but rather the alternative learning methods that are used. The methods of mainstream education, where students sit in classrooms, listen to lectures, and take tests, result in learning that is disconnected from the world and from the students’ whole self. If students come to ecovillages and these same methods are used, the learning experience will be nothing special. However, ecovillages use alternative methods such as democratic pedagogies, reflective immersion, action/experiential learning, and holistic education. And these make all the difference in the world.

gaia blue line web

For more information on the programme, visit this page.

Excerpted from Communities: Life in Cooperative Culture, #171, Summer 2016, “Ecovillages around the World.”
The full article appears in Communities #171 (available in print or digital) at