Coming Fall 2015:
Certificate in Ecoresilience Leadership

California Institute of Integral Studies
Department of East-West Psychology
Contact: Craig Chalquist, PhD, Dept Chair EWP


The Need
According to several research institutes, including the scientific arm of the United Nations, the last three years have seen absolutely unprecedented weather, from droughts to floods to superstorms. NASA and NOAA scientists say this represents extra carbon pumped into the atmosphere 25-30 years ago. Given that carbon pollution of the atmosphere has accelerated since then, we all face a very tough ride.

As extreme weather pulls apart nations and communities, denial of global warming and mass extinction has dropped to the point where even American politicians agree in private that something must be done to cool down the Earth. But no one agrees on what to do about the millions of people stuck in terror and paralysis over the multiple ecological disasters bearing down on all of us. Believing the public will somehow find its way alone past numbness and avoidance to “rational” action is psychologically naive. And what about people who simply want more knowledge about local food, ethical retailers, or clean transportation but don’t have time to search around for it? At a deeper level, what about those of us who desire a more fulfilling, appreciative, and mutually healing relationship with our ailing planet?

The Certificate in Ecoresilience Leadership will train mentors to facilitate Ecoresilience Circles (“heartsteads”) in which frightened people can speak their feelings, hear current scientific data on environmental shifts, learn about actions being taken to adapt to these shifts, move from perceived helplessness to readiness for participating in change, and network heartsteads together to form a pool of knowledge and best practices and a research web for studying how transformations of consciousness can lead to lasting cultural change. The emphasis is on application, with theory and ideas supporting that.

However, ecoanxiety represents the surface of a broader discontentment: that of disconnection from the natural world. “We still have not, in any meaningful way, arrived in America,” notes Wendell Berry in The Art of the Commonplace. By and large, Americans--and, increasingly, the people we colonize--lack a sense of place, belonging, and community. Our relations with the natural world remain those of mobile, restless spectators. All this leaves a powerful hunger for connection and deep homecoming, a hunger that fully surfaces (as I’ve so often seen) as soon as it is named, and, when it is not, creates symptoms as its signals. With the hunger runs a desire to live more lightly and sustainably on this planet. But how are busy people to figure out ways to do that?

Certificate graduates will learn, and be able to teach others, how to investigate the bioregional details of place, including the local flora and fauna (native and non-native), geology, ecological strengths and weaknesses, climate, sources of water and energy. Beyond that, they will learn how each place has its own style, mode of being, or psyche, and how to align with it. An obvious example of this is the Bay Area, site of the largest estuary on the Pacific coast. Ecologically, an estuary is a highly productive edge place where species that would never meet elsewhere come to find nourishment and breeding grounds. The Bay Area can be thought of as a psychosocial and spiritual estuary too, an important fact in knowing what work can succeed here and which will not.

The Certificate will also equip mentors to work as personal ecoliteracy consultants (“Hereternatives Guides”). Many of us desire to live sustainably but cannot find the time to investigate local alternatives to oil-based transportation, energy, food, and retail products. We would be willing pay a modest fee to obtain this knowledge from an ecoliteracy consultant. Calls to tighten our belts and do our own homework have not met with much acceptance by a busy public used to Amazon.com-like convenience. Ecoliteracy mentors can work with this convenience factor instead of against it by providing--for a fee or pro bono, as appropriate--a comprehensive list of locally based resources: alternative transport (including schedules), local artisans, local grocers and farmer’s markets (times and sites), ethical phone and Internet services, etc. Having this information could begin to pry us loose from dependency on petroleum and other monopolized industries by revealing local alternatives (“hereternatives”) relatively easy to access. One can imagine local businesses eager to get on the Hereternatives lists of our ecoliteracy consultants....

Our long-range hope is that the certificate will prove useful and popular enough to lead eventually to a Center for Ecoresilience Studies at CIIS. As James Hillman once put it in another context, “It’s not about meaning anymore. It’s about survival.” Actually, it’s about both, and about embedding both consciously in networks and communities strong and smart enough to outlast shifts in weather, finance, and politics.

Certificate Mission Statement
The Certificate in Ecoresilience Leadership seeks to train mentors of deep cultural change to facilitate “heartsteads”: small groups in which people concerned about climate change and other planetary crises move from paralysis into action. Mentors will also collect research on this movement and will compile best practices to share among all groups involved in working toward collective awakening, one group at a time, to the need for effective and reflective responses to the ecological crises we now face.

Learning Objectives
After completing the Certificate, participants will be able to:

Who Should Apply?

How Much Will It Cost?

Under $3,000 for nine months of education and training. Classes will be held on Saturdays and Sundays.

Coursework (130 hours over two semesters):
Fall gathering and orientation
Introduction to Ecoresilience
Ecology, Sustainability, and Regenerative Practices
Ecoresilience Leadership Principles and Practices
Creative Work with Earth: Story, Symbol, Art, Dream
Working with the Earth Charter Initiative
Eradigms and Worldviews
Group Work I: Beyond Ecogrief and Ecoanxiety

Spring gathering and orientation
Urban Ecopsychology
Ecotherapeutic Movement
Environmental Justice: Principles and Practices
Parallel Resources and Post-Carbon Practices
Group Work II: Culture-Building and Network-Weaving
Conducting Research for Cultural Transformation
Working with Communities
Community Project Presentations

Eventual Outcome:
Networks of heartsteads creating a global pool of culture-transforming knowledge and practice in service to strengthening networks and communities to face whatever comes.