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Introducing the Big Picture of Co-creating a Thriving Future

Global experts advise that in order to urge humanity towards sustainability, we need to re-design everything, from our homes to our food, energy, transport and economic systems. This transformation needs to occur on a grand scale and take into consideration people, planet and livelihoods to arrive at a holistic balance as we humbly endeavour to redesign human presence on Earth.

So, what does it mean to re-design everything?

Rooted in Gaia Education’s international experience in community design education and sustainable systems thinking over more than ten years, we offer you this short course that highlights what is possible, what is being done, and what remains to be done, to transform society, while addressing the most pressing issues of our times. Designing for Sustainability invites a cross-generational process of critical thinking, the exploration of innovative solutions and social entrepreneurship, and is inspired by what Thich Nhat Hanh has called ‘interbeing’ – the connection we share with all living things.

Using examples from ecovillages and sustainable communities from around the world, this course will introduce you to people who are creating communities that tread more lightly on the planet and do so in a way that recognises the power of collaboration, the promise of regenerative systems and the value of diversity.

You will learn from the pioneers and visionaries who have dared to innovate and bring sustainability resilience and systemic thinking to urban, rural and traditional settings around the world. Our case studies range from experimental ecovillage communities to transformative innovation by the mainstream inhabitants of large cities and clustered neighbourhoods.

If you are looking for a course that puts sustainability into perspective, with frameworks and real life inspirations and examples of effective design, this is the best introduction you will find online today. Start with understanding the big picture of Designing for Sustainability and begin your learning journey as a global-local agent of change.

Thematic Areas

This self-paced course will explore the concepts and practice of designing for sustainability and regeneration through the following thematic areas:

  • Awareness

    Challenges and opportunities facing humanity today: Social, Ecological, Economic and Cultural.

  • Innovation

    Introduction to some eco-conscious community groups around the world and their social entrepreneurship ideas.

  • Creativity

    Case studies, stories and testimonies from ecovillages with focus on economic and cultural aspects.

  • Design

    The design process and principles of Holistic Design

  • Cooperation

    Deepening our involvement

The thematic areas are explored in depth with the support of the following reflective questions:

  • What are the major challenges facing humanity today and how do sustainable communities address these challenges?
  • What do we see when we visit a sustainable community and how do the four dimensions of designing for sustainability express themselves in practice?
  • How can the arts help to build social cohesion and bring about social and personal transformation in sustainable communities?
  • What is integrative whole systems design and how do we achieve it?
  • What strategies and actions can we engage with and practise right now to live more consciously and sustainably in community?

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this introductory course you will be able to:

  • list the system-wide challenges facing humankind and why it is important to learn about regenerative design in order to live more sustainably while addressing those challenges.
  • offer examples of diverse community-led initiatives across the globe that bring together people who are trying to live more sustainably.
  • explain why sustainable community design aims not only to sustain thriving regenerative communities but also to regenerate the entire web of life on which our long-term survival depends.
  • think systemically in terms of design with the aim to create thriving human communities, while simultaneously improving the health of the whole Earth system and the community of life.
  • name the key aspects of the value-systems change and ethical principles underlying the design of sustainable community and regenerative cultures.
  • engage with the power of collaborative learning, collective intelligence and the importance of reflection, both individually and in a group.

You will also be fully informed about the benefits and time commitment associated with the year-long Gaia Education Design for Sustainability Programme so you can make an informed choice whether, after the big picture, you might want to enter into the detail of Design for Sustainability. After completing the introduction you will be given a special discount should you wish to enrol in the year-long online certificate programme.

young woman empowering other community members
Change Agents Gaia Education Crowd


If you think it’s challenging to achieve all these goals in a virtual environment, please know you can count on Gaia Education’s experience in structuring engaging online and face-to-face courses. This course integrates elements of the five components that the Gaia Education approach to learning provides for you:

  • Collaborative learning opportunities

    Opportunities to connect with other online learners in small groups of two to five people, and also in discussion forums inside the virtual classroom.

  • Reflection

    Carefully crafted questions to prompt reflection on the key ideas presented in the course and which help learners to structure their posts in the discussion forum.

  • Learning through the arts

    Exploring the use of artistic expression to provoke deeper thinking and sensing. Inviting you to share your ideas through creative media, including drawing, photography, video, audio, graphic and technical design, writing, digital journals and other sharable media.

  • Analysis of real-life examples

    Sharing stories, testimonies and case studies from ecovillages and other eco-conscious communities around the globe.

  • Networking

    Encouraging you to identify and engage with communities and action-oriented groups in your bioregion.

Your Investment

This course has been extremely beneficial for me. I will definitely be doing the full course. I love being able to collaborate freely with souls who have realised the web of life needs help healing and restoring its brilliance.

This course has made me extremely positive. It’s great to see all the dimensions at work and that there are so many who have been learning and implementing a new horizon for us as a species.

My perspective now is incredibly positive. I feel excited to learn from diverse sentient beings and feel that we can create a better world using collective intelligence. I love challenges it seems we are facing the biggest challenge yet for humanity. We are challenged to love and heal so only can make life better.

Warren RothmanIntroductory course to Designing for Sustainability, 2018

The programme commences once you have registered and submitted your payment of £60. The course will take approximately 12-15 hours to complete, depending on your own pace and reflection time. Once you have received your username and password you can visit the platform as often you wish.

If after completion you choose to continue your learning journey with the full 10-month programme, you can start studying on the same platform when the next dimension begins. The cost of this introductory course can be deducted from your enrolment in the full 10-month programme when you register for the year-long course.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at

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