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Community Education for a Full Range of Peacebuilding Roles: Ecovillage Design Curriculum--and Invitation for Other Resources

There are many resources available to assist in the transformation to more peaceful ways of life. Educational opportunities made accessible at the local community level can become a point of entry for many people. The IPCR Initiative (the initiative this writer is building) advocates for “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” (concept created and developed by “Teachers Without Borders”), which can, in turn, provide key support for carrying out Community Visioning Initiatives. [The IPCR Initiative also advocates for ongoing use of questionnaires at the local level, as "Organizations and communities of people often use questionnaires and surveys to identify problems and solutions, and to build consensus for collective action" (from another journal entry by this writer "A Mini Questionnaire from The IPCR Initiative")].

There are many resources which can illustrate the potential for local community education of this nature. And this post can be a starting point for contributions from readers describing resources they are familiar with. The resources which this writer will share here are associated with Gaia Education Ecovillage Design Curriculum.

In a post I made in the “Peace Educators” group of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network (discussion on curriculum, February 28, 2010), I quoted from the Beyond Intractability website as follows: “Efforts to limit the terrible destructiveness commonly associated with intractable conflicts ultimately depend on the ability of people in a full range of conflict roles to successfully play their part in a broad peacebuilding effort.” This writer feels it is relevant to successful peacebuilding for educators to gain a deep appreciation for how broad peacebuilding efforts can be-- and the Ecovillage Design Curriculum is one way educators can gain such an appreciation.

The introduction I will offer to this Ecovillage Design Curriculum is excerpted from two sources: 1) the preample to a 116 page “Ecovillage Design Curriculum” document (accessible at the Gaia Education website), and 2) the introduction provided to the following coursework offered by the Findhorn Foundation (Findhorn, Scotland). A seven minute video introduction is also offered at the Findhorn Foundation website; and at the Gaia Education website, the 116 page curriculum guide can be downloaded for free. Here is the introductory material:

(Note: all links are at end of this post).

1) From the Gaia Education website:

“We live in a rapidly changing world that is transforming before our very eyes. Humanity is now being challenged as never before to grow in wisdom, maturity, and understanding. A plethora of deep and pressing concerns is calling for our immediate attention, concerns such as: Earth's environmental degradation, including the loss of precious topsoil and forest cover, the encroachment of deserts, the depletion of fisheries and aquifers, the loss of habitat and the extinction of species, etc.; the glaring and increasing disparity between rich and poor leading to exploitation, poverty, and the associated regimen of malnutrition and over-population; the disintegration of families, communities, even entire cultures;
unrestrained urbanization resulting in social alienation, displacement, and feelings of disconnection with the natural world; the dimming of a sense of spiritual awareness and purpose; global warming and ozone depletion; etc. And now, looming on the horizon is “peak oil,” with its coming adjustments and retrofits, including the probability of ongoing conflict over access to the remaining energy reserves.

“All of these problems are quite real and, by now, well-documented; but gaining awareness of the extent of the problems is only half the project of becoming educated these days.

“Amidst these intense challenges, and largely catalyzed by them, lies the prospect for tremendous growth in human potential and consciousness. People and communities all over the globe are coming together to reclaim responsibility for creating their own living situations – at local and regional levels. In the process, they are overcoming prior limitations and developing new talents, skills, knowledge and approaches. Paradoxically, many of the most innovative solutions rely on a timeless, perennial kind of wisdom that seems to have been disregarded recently. The potential for a refreshed, renewed, revitalized humanity goes hand-in-hand with meeting the challenges of our present Age.

“The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) believes the most promising and effective way to deal with all these issues is through education….

2) From the Findhorn Foundation website:

“Gaia Education Design for Sustainability - Training of Trainers - Incorporating Transition Towns Training

Saturday 2nd October, 2010
presented by the Findhorn Foundation in partnership with
Global Ecovillage Network and Gaia Education

Based on the Ecovillage Design Curriculum - an official contribution to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

Facilitated by:
Pracha Hutanuwatr - Director, Wongsanit Ashram, Thailand
May East - Director, Gaia Education
Jonathan Dawson - Senior Lecturer, Findhorn College
Michael Shaw - Director, Ecovillage International
and Findhorn Ecovillage experts”

“You are invited to join this four-week comprehensive training of trainers based on the four core pillars of the Ecovillage Design Curriculum: the social, worldview, ecological and economic dimensions of sustainability.

“The curriculum draws on the experience and expertise developed in a network of some of the most successful ecovillages and community projects across the Earth.

“Design for Sustainability Training of Trainers is an advanced training course based at the Findhorn Ecovillage providing a practical forum for learning and developing skills needed to work effectively with design for sustainability at all levels. It comprises four separate week-long modules, which may be attended as a whole or separately.”

“Social Design - Week 1: Oct 2 - 8
Building Community & Embracing Diversity
Communication Skills and Feedback
Facilitation and Decision-Making Processes
Conflict Facilitation
Personal Empowerment and Leadership
Celebrating Life: Creativity and Art

Economic Design - Week 2: Oct 9 - 15
Shifting the Global Economy to Sustainability
How Money Works: Community Banks and Currencies
Right Livelihood
Social Enterprise
Legal and Financial Issues

Ecological Design - Week 3: Oct 16 - 22
Whole Systems Approach to Ecological Design
Appropriate Technology: Water
Organic Agriculture and Local Food
Appropriate Technology: Energy
Green Building & Retrofitting

Worldview - Week 4: Oct 23 - 29
Holistic Worldview
Listening to and Reconnecting with Nature
Awakening & Transformation of Consciousness
Personal Health, Planetary Health
Socially Engaged Spirituality and Bioregionalism”

“The Gaia Education Design for Sustainability 2009 hosted participants from 19 nations: Myanmar, Belgium, Ireland, Mexico, Honduras, Latvia, Bulgaria, South Africa, France, Turkey, Colombia, Japan, Norway, Australia, USA, Canada, UK, Brazil, Germany.”

“34 participants shared four weeks of intensive studies in social, ecological, and economic design. 21 participants were women and 13 men and the age range stretched from 22 to 59. The professional and educational backgrounds of the group were almost as diverse as the countries of origin. Amongst the participants were various educators, scientists, academics, activists, NGO workers, civil servants, designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, development workers, and project managers. The teachers were participants and facilitators in a process of knowledge and experience exchange that involved everybody as teachers and as learners.”

Links

1. The free 161 page “Ecovillage Design Curriculum” document can be downloaded from the Gaia Education website (from the section “Publications”) (specifically at http://www.gaiaeducation.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&i... )

2. The above introductory text from the Findhorn Foundation “Gaia Education Design…” course is from the Ecovillage/Gaia Education Design section of Findhorn Foundation website (specifically http://www.findhorn.org/programmes/programme353.php ). The seven minute video mentioned above (“Gaia Education—At the Cutting Edge of Sustainability”) is also accessible from that webpage.

Concluding Comments

I hope this information is helpful to some readers at this worldpulse.com platform. I invite readers of this post to contribute other suggestions here regarding educational resources with much potential for peacebuilding, through “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” or some similar accessible and affordable local community point of entry.

With Kind Regards,

Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator
The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative

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