The 'Ecology and Sustainability' Study Programme will unveil the values and the relationship one is capable of having with the natural world. Drawing from philosophers, ecologists, eco-phycologists, anthropologists, storytellers, activists and poets, the program will reflect on how we perceive the environment today and how we can create environmental and social change.
- What does sustainability mean to you?
- Where does your connection with the Earth rest?
- Can we ever be sustainable?
The programme aims to offer a space of reflection, learning and action, stirring the critical thinking of participants. The subjects discussed will aim to rethink the values between society and the environment.
During 8 meetings we will journey through different ecological thoughts and perspectives to re-construct a narrative of wholeness and authentic sustainability. To guide us on this inquiry we will study and discuss different authors work such as Arne Naess, Joanna Macy, E. F. Schumacher, Stephan Harding, Aldo Leopold, Vandana Shiva, Murray Bookchin, Mathew Fox, Andrew Harvey, James Lovelock and more. You will be open to radical ecologists and thinkers while sharing your own perspective and rediscovering your own ecological values.
During the programme participants will receive materials such as book chapters, poems, videos and online talks to support and enrich your investigation.
Participants will have the opportunity to dive into research. Following a thread of your own choosing you will have support to develop your ecosophy or any kind of expression of your choosing, this is an optional offering. Participants may chose to work on a poem, a painting, an essay, a story, a photograph, design a nature connection activity, a workshop or a talk.
Is This For You?
All are welcome to this study programme. We will have a small group to ensure participants get to know each other creating an intimate and safe space for conversation and learning. No background in ecology is required, simply the desire to deepen your thoughts around nature connection, ecological values and sustainability.
The full course has 8 weekly meetings facilitated in a holistic and transformative learning format. The sessions will be recorded for your keeping. Subjects will be introduced by the facilitator with PPT support and discussed by the group through an inquiry method.
When you subscribe to the study programme you will receive study materials.
Every Wednesday from May 15th to July 3rd (19:00 to 21:00)
I. Introduction & Sustainability (15 May)
Re-thinking sustainability and course overview. This session is dedicated to get to know each other, share our perspectives around the concept of sustainability and understand how the study programme will take place.
II. Deep Ecology & Ecological Self (22 May)
Deep Ecology is an ecological and environmental philosophy promoting interconnection and diversity, and endorsing the inherent worth of all beings regardless of their utility to human beings. It involves moving beyond the individualism of Western cultures towards seeing human beings as part of a global ecosystem.
III. The Work That Reconnects (29 May)
The ‘Work that Reconnects’ is a series of experiential practices pioneered by Joanna Macy drawn from systems theory, deep ecology, Buddhism, Indigenous wisdom and other sources, which aims to:
- Provide people with opportunities to confront feelings of being overwhelmed and powerless relating to the catastrophes the planet is facing
- Reframe our pain for the world as evidence of our interconnectedness in the web of life
- Revitalise ourselves to play a part in the creation of a regenerative planet
IV. Social Ecology & Ecofeminism (05 June)
Murray Bookchin was a leading theoretical progenitor of the many currents of left ecological thought and action that emerged from the 1960s. The session will explore the common routs of oppression that cause harm and destruction to both women and nature and a path to the interconnected liberation of all beings.
V. Nature Connection & Indigenous Ways of Being (12 June)
Indigenous people have a tradition of conservation. In this session we will explore the traditions of indigenous tribes and how their way of being is intertwined with the natural world. Participants will be offered nature connection practices and activities they can offer to other communities (students, colleagues, friends..) and will discuss why is it important to feel the belonging to place. What can we learn from indigenous people?
VI. The Power of Storytelling (19 June)
During the session we will explore how stories transform our world and participants will gain tools to share their own story in an authentic form. We will explore the different narratives we live by and think creatively and collectively on how we can share a new story, our personal and professional stories.
VII. Sacred Activism & Spiritual Ecology (26 June)
The session explores the integration of spiritual values with practical action in activism and environmental work. We will discuss the role of reverence for the earth into today’s ecological debate.To create a truly sustainable future should spirituality play a role? What would a future based on interconnectedness and honouring all life look like? How can activism and environmental action life generating instead of life burning? Join us to unravel new forms of seeing the world and being an activist.
“The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it. If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity—then we will treat each other with greater respect. Thus is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective.”
– David Suzuki
VIII. Conclusion and final reflection (03 July)
Project presentation and weaving together all our threads. During this session we will look back into our learning journey aiming to create a holistic narrative and an understanding of how we can move forward applying our discoveries.
Past Participant Experience
“The Ecology and Sustainability course has been so eye-opening for me, it has changed the way I understand sustainability and relate to the natural world. It’s been amazing to join together with such an inspiring group and experience an interactive way of studying something we all care about deeply. I highly recommend it!” - Lizzie Siu
“The Ecology & Sustainability course contains topics haven’t been combined together like that in any course I’ve seen before. Maria is a great facilitator and the group dynamics is what brings the extra added value to this course. The content revisits and suggests you to see things from a different angle in a very gentle way. I could not recommend this course enough. Thank you Maria for bringing this to Shanghai.” - Alizee Buysschaert
“The course has been for me such an insightful journey of thought provoking questions and connecting to understand myself and myself in connection with the living world. It’s been an excitement to attend each session!” - Sarah Jones
Green Initiantives' first study program with incredible Maria Souza. That moment when there isn't enough words: In-cre-dible! I like the way the course makes me talk to myself. I stopped and started the dialogue. It brings the thoughts and makes me think for days after each session. It helped me to remind myself the basic and the most essential things in life. Sacred Wednesdays are for those who search.” - Ireen
"I joined the course looking for collective experience, and it was indeed the right move; the classes are so genuinely participated then the feeling of being among peers is so spontaneous and crisp. I think this is a wonderful achievement for a learning and sharing setting. This is called a course on ecology, but it is indeed also an experience in enhanced and empowered human relations. I am learning once more that what makes us separate and distinguished in our daily life is really not that relevant or important. So much better to focus on what keeps us together, which is at the centre of every learning session." - Francesca Valsecchi, Assistant Professor, College of Design & Innovation, Tongji University
“I like how the sessions are structure. It is well organized. We have reading material , some guided concept are shared by you and the discussion along the way.” - Tip Piyawan
“The programme offers me to reconnect the very core of my being as an individual in this mundane society and the part that still shares the same root with other creatures on the Earth. It’s never too late to pause for a reflection.” Elaine Zheng
“Interesting philosophy and wide curriculum about Nature and our place on Earth as Humans” - Paul Iglesia