Introduction Course to Designing for Sustainability

Gaia Education

Programme Description

Introduction Course to Designing for Sustainability

Gaia Education

WELCOME to the Gaia Education's Designing for Sustainability: Introducing the Big Picture of Co-Creating a Thriving Future. Global experts advise in order to stir humanity towards sustainability we need to re-design everything, from our homes to our food, energy, transport and economic systems. This transformation needs to occur on a grand scale and take into consideration people, planet, and livelihoods to arrive at a holistic balance as we humbly endeavor to redesign human presence on Earth. So, what does it mean to re-design everything? Rooted in Gaia Education’s over 10 years of international experience in community design education and sustainable systems thinking, we offer you this short course that highlights what is possible, what is being done, and what remains to be done to transform society while addressing the most pressing issues of our times. Designing for Sustainability invites a cross-generational process of critical thinking, the exploration of innovative solutions and social entrepreneurship, and is inspired by what Thich Nhat Hanh has called “interbeing” - the connection we all share with all living things. Using examples from ecovillages and sustainable communities from around the world, this course will introduce you to people who are creating communities that tread more lightly on the planet and do so in a way that recognizes the power of collaboration, the promise of regenerative systems, and the value of diversity. You will learn from the pioneers and visionaries who have dared to innovate and bring sustainability resilience, and systemic thinking to urban, rural, and traditional settings around the world. Our case studies range from experimental ecovillage communities to transformative innovation by the mainstream inhabitants of large cities and clustered neighborhoods. If you are looking for a course that puts sustainability into perspective, with frameworks and real-life inspirations and examples of effective design, this is the best introduction you will find online today. Start with understanding the big picture of Designing for Sustainability and begin your learning journey as a global-local agent of change.

Thematic Areas

This self-paced course will explore the concepts and practice of designing for sustainability and regeneration through the following thematic areas: The thematic areas are explored in depth with a support of the following reflective questions:

  • What are the major challenges facing humanity today and how do sustainable communities address these challenges?
  • What do we see when we visit a sustainable community and how do the four dimensions of designing for sustainability express themselves in practice?
  • How can the arts help to build social cohesion and bring about social and personal transformation in sustainable communities?
  • What is integrative whole systems design, and how do we achieve it?
  • What strategies and actions can we engage with and practice right now to live more consciously and sustainable in the community?

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this Introductory course you will be able to:

  • List the system-wide challenges facing humankind and why it is important to learn about regenerative design in order to live more sustainably while addressing those challenges.
  • Offer examples of diverse community-led initiatives across the globe that bring together people who are trying to live more sustainably.
  • Explain why sustainable community design aims not only to sustain thriving regenerative communities but also to regenerate the entire web of life on which our long-term survival depends.
  • Think systemically in terms of design, with the aim to create thriving human communities, while simultaneously improving the health of the whole Earth system and the community of life.
  • Name the key aspects of the value-systems change and ethical principles underlying the design of the sustainable community and regenerative cultures.
  • Engage with the power of collaborative learning, collective intelligence, and the importance of reflection, both individually and in a group.

You will also be fully informed about the benefits and time commitment associated with the year-long Gaia Education Design for Sustainability Sky Programme so you can make an informed choice whether after the big picture you might want to enter into the detail of Design for Sustainability. After completing the introduction you will be given a special discount should you wish to enrol in the year-long online certificate programme.


You may think it is challenging to achieve all these goals in a virtual environment, yet you can count on Gaia Education's experience in structuring engaging online and Face-to-Face Courses. This course integrates elements of the five components that the Gaia Education approach to learning provides to you:

  • Collaborative learning opportunities – opportunities to connect with other online learners, in small groups of two to five people, as well as in discussion forums inside the virtual classroom.
  • Reflection – carefully crafted questions to prompt reflection on the key ideas presented in the course, and that help learners structure their posts in the discussion forum.
  • Learning through the arts – exploring the use of artistic expression to provoke deeper thinking and sensing. Inviting you to share your ideas through creative media, including drawing, photography, video, audio, graphics and technical design, writing, digital journals, and other shareable media.
  • Analysis of real-life examples – sharing stories, testimonies, and case studies from ecovillages and other eco-conscious communities around the globe.
  • Networking – encouraging you to identify and engage with communities and action-oriented groups in your bioregion.

Your investment

The programme commences once you have registered and submitted your payment of £47. The course will take approximately 12-15 hours to complete, depending on your own pace and reflection time. Once you have received your username and password you can visit the platform as often you wish. If after completion you choose to continue your learning journey with the full Sky Programme, it will begin on the same platform on the 17th of October with the Social Design Dimension. The cost of this Introductory course can be applied towards enrollment in the full Sky programme when you register for the year-long course.

This school offers programs in:
  • English
Gaia Education

Last updated November 21, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Online
Start Date
Start date
Open Enrolment
12 - 15 
Part time
47 GBP
United Kingdom - Forres, Scotland
Start date : Open Enrolment
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Open Enrolment
United Kingdom - Forres, Scotland
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info