BDE – Bioregional Design Education

Building Capacity and Networks for Regenerative Regional Development

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Join a community of committed regional change agents in a ten-month blended learning journey, and together you will:

  • Transform

    yourself as you work in teams to help build the networks, initiatives and enterprises that will transform your region

  • Collaborate

    with a growing network of Gaia Education ‘Agents of Change’ in building a thriving regional economy that drives social and ecological regeneration

  • Learn

    about the biocultural uniqueness of your region and apply this knowledge in whole systems design teams to create community projects or a business plan for your social enterprise

  • Envision

    innovative pathways towards a regenerative future as you learn to facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement, bioregional mapping and future visioning processes

  • Implement

    feasible pilot projects as part of your learning journey, or use this course to take the first steps as an eco-social entrepreneur or in a team creating a cooperative or community project

Gary Snyder

“Bioregional awareness teaches us in specific ways. It is not enough to just ‘love nature’ or to want to ‘be in harmony with Gaia’. Our relation to the natural world takes place in a place, and it must be grounded in information and experience.”

Gary SnyderPoet, essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist.

Why do we need to co-create resilient and thriving bioregions?

Findhorn seen from above

In September 2015, the United Nations agreed on 17 Global Goals that would drive the sustainable development agenda until 2030 and beyond. For these Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved successfully they need to be made relevant to the biocultural uniqueness of places, communities and bioregions everywhere, and implemented through social and ecological regeneration that goes hand-in-hand with the creation of thriving circular biomaterials economies focused on the local and regional scale.

Mallorca BDE

To successfully re-design the human impact on Earth from being predominantly destructive to being regenerative, we will have to create diverse regenerative cultures everywhere in careful adaptation to the bio-physical limits of each specific bioregion.

For humanity to thrive within planetary limits and creatively adapt to the challenges and opportunities of each place and region we need scale-linking design and widespread collaboration at the local, regional and global scale.

Communities wanting to thrive locally need to increase regenerative regional production for responsible regional consumption, while prioritising ecological and social regeneration. To do this successfully, communities will need to collaborate in global knowledge exchange that inform practical implementation and adaptation at the regional scale. Renewable-energy-based regional biomaterials economies offer a timely response to climate change and increase resilience, as well as the food, water and energy sovereignty of each bioregion. Engaging in regenerative bioregional development creates a shared purpose of thriving together in place in ways that serve all the people and the planet.

Sir Patrick Geddes

“Our greatest need today is to see life as whole, to see its many sides in their proper relations; but we must have a practical as well as a philosophical interest in such an integrated view of life.”

Sir Patrick GeddesScottish biologist, sociologist, geographer, philanthropist and pioneering town planner

Transformative education for bioregional change agents

Become a Gaia Education certified Regenerative Bioregional Development Practitioner and join your regional Gaia Education ‘Agents of Change Network’.

This programme builds on Gaia Education’s 12 years experience in running transformative face-to-face programmes that inspire and enable people to actively co-create the future they want for themselves, their families, their community and region. It combines the best of this experience with the in-depth online study of the whole systems design framework that informs the work of regional change agents.

More than just an individual learning experience, this programme aims to create a committed, informed and capable network of change agents dedicated to co-creating sustainable community projects, educational initiatives and businesses within their region. This bioregion- centred approach allows for very effective and transformative learning in collaborative design teams that immediately apply the knowledge they gain to practical projects on the ground.

This course is an opportunity to reinvent your professional practice and find like-minded individuals in your region to co-create new social enterprises, education initiatives and community projects that will actively contribute to social and ecological regeneration of the bioregion you call home. Join this transformative learning journey to: find your purpose, know your place, meet your people and heal the planet.

bioregion mandala

“We have individually and collectively denied the interdependence of nature and culture. The tragedy is that dumb design has provided so little of enduring value at such a great environmental and social cost. The industrial world, with its science, technology, and borrowed affluence, has developed by denying wholeness within the art of living.”

Sim Van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan

How the Course is Structured

This blended learning course combines expert-taught face-to-face, peer-facilitated face-to-face, and tutor guided online learning.

The face-to-face expert facilitated workshops are usually held over one and a half days on one weekend each month, apart from a three-day kick-off workshop at the beginning, a three-day design studio workshop in month eight, and a two-day project presentation and graduation workshop at the end of the programme. These sessions are highly experiential and offer practical skill training in social or ecological regeneration and design, as well as opportunities to practise facilitation, communication, and decision-making skills and processes.

The online component allows each learner to engage with the curriculum content in more depth and in their own time. We recommend a minimum of eight hours of study time per week for successful completion. The online material is based on Gaia Education’s UNESCO-endorsed Design for Sustainability course, and special regional tutors will help you to relate each content area to regional examples and applications. Each cohort will collectively engage in a bioregional mapping exercise to identify the strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of their region, collate relevant social, economic and ecological data in one place, and identify likely collaborators in the region.

In addition, the course teaching team will divide each annual cohort into a series of Local Project Groups (LPG) that will co-design and implement community projects or educational initiatives. People who want to use the training to develop a detailed business plan for an eco-social enterprise will be paired with Business Plan Buddies (BPB) or allocated to a Coop Launch Team (CLT). The groups will meet fortnightly for a three-hour evening co-working session and will be challenged to organise one community outreach talk or workshop per curriculum dimension in localities around the bioregion.

The ten-month intensive programme requires an average monthly commitment of one and a half to three days of face-to-face workshops, 32 hours of online study (eight hours per week) and two three-hour face-to-face working group sessions. In order to gain your certificate you will have attended 125 hours of expert facilitated face-to-face workshops, studied the GEDS-online material for approximately 260 hours, and worked in a Local Working Project Group or on in a Business Plan Buddy Team for approximately 160 hours. See table below:

Table showing how the three types of blended learning modalities are integrated through this ten-month intensive training for Regenerative Bioregional Development Practitioners.

Course Duration and Objectives

In order to receive your certificate as a Regenerative Bioregional Development Practitioner and gain access to your regional Gaia Education ‘Agents of Change Network’ you will have to complete a total of 545 hours of online study, workshops and team work, facilitate at least one community outreach workshop, deliver at least one community outreach presentation, and collaborate either with a Local Project Group, a Business Plan Buddy, or a Coop Launch Team in the detailed design (and possibly implementation) of a project or enterprise.

Once you have graduated from the ten-month learning journey and gained your certificate, you will be eligible to join the regional Gaia Education ‘Agents of Change Network’ and connect with other such networks in bioregions around the world. Monthly gatherings, the online social media forum and directory, as well as the monthly newsletter published to this network are supported by an annual fee of 120 Euros or two days of network support work.

Duration: ten months of tuition (with a two week break between each dimension).

Total amount of hours: 125 hours of workshops, 260 of online study, and 160 hours of team work.

diagramme for BDE

The mutually supportive learning modalities support the objective and outcomes of the BDE

What you will learn

Like all  Gaia Education’s programmes the underlying whole systems design framework of the Bioregional Design Education (BDE) training for Regeneratie Bioregional Development Practitioners is structured into four dimensions: social, ecologcial, economic and worldview. To integrate and apply these four key dimensions of sustainability and the co-creation of regenerative cultures, the ‘design studio’ components offer students an opportunity to revise, connect and apply what they have learned in each of these four dimensions.

Each of the four dimensions contains five modules. The aquired competencies, skills and experiences for each of these modules are detailed in the more in-depth description of each module which we will share with you soon. Here are the broad topic areas of each of the modules in the four dimensions:

Social dimension modules

  • Embracing diversity and co-creating community
  • Facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue and effective project teams
  • Shared leadership and responsibility
  • Creativity, art and a ’sense of belonging’ for social transformation
  • Scales of collaboration: local, regional, global

Economic dimension modules

  • Transforming the global economy (bioregionally)
  • Right livelihood, wellbeing and P2P collaboration
  • Relocalisation, social innovation and regenerative enterprise
  • Community currencies and local investment
  • Sustainable business models, social enterprise and cooperatives

Ecological dimension modules

  • Integrative whole systems design
  • Building for people in place - construction and retrofitting
  • Food sovereignty, regenerating soils and ecosystems
  • Bioregional watershed management
  • Energy sovereignty - renewables and zero carbon technology

Worldview dimension modules

  • Living systems thinking, participation and wholeness
  • Nature as a model, mentor and measure
  • Personal, community, ecosystem and planetary health
  • Envisioning and co-creating the future

“Bioregionalism is land-use planning that integrates industry, agriculture, economics and governance together with the ecology of the region. It begins from the premise that humans evolved in response to their environments, and are subject to natural laws and limits; therefore, communities should be designed to fit their bioregion.”

Pooran Desai and Sue Riddlestone

Design Project/Business Plan

In this phase of the programme your will work with a buddy or as a design team to create a detailed project design and/or business plan for a regenenerative enterprise, and to implement a pilot, an educational initiative or a market research project for your regenerative enterprise. On the day of the project presentation there will be local funders and angel investors invited to possibly support you in implementing the project or enterprise with their support and the support of the regional ‘Agents of Change Network’.

For any further information, please contact