To keep pace with the paradigm shift in how humans must relate to the life systems of the planet, and in particular how all parts of society must now drawdown greenhouse gases from inception of design, we recognize the need for a new paradigm in learning, which are calling the cool school, or SCOOL.
GVI was an active part of the formation of Gaia University and later Gaia Education Associates. We hosted the worlds first ecovillage design courses, developed the curricula for ecovillage design education, and contributed to publication of The Four Keys, the seminal textbook series for the design of regenerative human habitats.
In 1995 the Institute created the world's first Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm in Tennessee. We changed the pedagogy of standard workshops and seminars of that time to take advantage of new lessons from neurobiology, creating an "immersion" pedagogy of action learning, and in the process upskilling many of the world's best teachers in the sustainability field. Gaia Education was created when Global Village, Gaia Trust, and GEN brought together these educators into a working group we called "GEESE"- Global Ecovillage Educators for a Sustainable Earth. We undertook to formulate a new, hip, transdisciplinary approach to education.
The GEESE first convened in 1998 in Fjordvang, Denmark where the common ground for the development of the ecovillage design curriculum was established. The first milestone was the launch of the innovative curriculum Ecovillage Design Education, during the 10th anniversary conference of the Global Ecovillage Network at the Findhorn Ecovillage in October 2005.
In 2007 the Ecovillage Training Center brought together Darren Doherty, Joel Salatin, Elaine Ingham, Brad Lancaster, Kurt Gadzia and other instructors to host the world's first Carbon Farming workshop. In 2008 and 2009 we repeated the breakthrough with the world's first Financial Permaculture workshop, inspiring Ethan Roland, Eric Toensmeier and many of our original students to expand that franchise globally. We also developed early versions of Permaculture Teacher Training and Edible Forest Design.
In 2008, Gaia Education Design for Sustainability (GEDS) online program was launched in partnership with Open University of Catalonia (UOC). Initially offered in Spanish and English, the course attracted students from both developed and developing countries, rural and urban regions, on all five continents.
In 2011, the Spanish Gaia Education Design for Sustainability became a formal postgraduate course, attracting mostly Spanish and Latin American students. Since then, Gaia Education has converted the GEDS postgraduate Spanish course into a Masters degree.
In 2013, Gaia Education started to offer GEDS in Portuguese, in its online learning platform, where it has also been possible to take the GEDS course in English since 2014.
In 2014 Gaia Education developed the new stream of activity, Project-Based Learning, supporting community-led implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Since 2006 Gaia Education has successfully supported the delivery of more than 240 programs on six continents. Internationally, the number of four-week long intensives and other course formats are increasing steadily along with a sharp increase in the number of applicants and participants of these courses. These vocational courses are open to a diverse group of people with a wide range of professional and academic backgrounds who are interested in taking an active role in the sustainability transition.
Please visit our Gaia Education website and take the full tour.
The Institute's newest project is to create a children's school and training center for the bioeconomy.
The pedagogy is strongly influenced by John and Cynthia Hardy's Green School in Bali and the buildings and grounds are equally influenced by the elegant bamboo architecture of Elora Hardy.
We wish to marry a traditional vo-tech approach, providing practical skills for new technological innovations with broad liberal arts curricula that stimulate an engaged world view. Our first scool is slated for the Dominican Republic, not coincidentally in the same ecovillage where we are constructing our first Cool Lab.
Students of all ages will learn about climate, biodiversity and conservation, how to regenerate soils and heal damaged lands, preventing forest fires, drawing down carbon and integrating agroforestry and wetland systems into permaculture systems for food security.