The Many Faces of a World-Changer

Do any of the portraits below resonate with your interests, talents, and mission?

We invite you to explore a collection of descriptions of how different associates may potentially ‘fit’ within Gaia University, depending upon their individual experience, circumstances, and orientation. Of course every associate is unique – we realize that more than one portrait may apply to each associate and the list is by no means exhaustive!


building site discussionI am passionate about creating positive change in the world. I want to develop and use my intellect, but I do not want to have to wait for graduation to dive into real-world projects. I want to be in a leadership role, designing my own projects and continually building my skills as a world-changer and social entrepreneur. I also want to learn more about how to sustain my personal well-being – mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial.

I want to be the change I want to see in the world.

I would like a supportive structure to help me create effective, enduring, strategic social, and ecological change projects in a specific community – or in service to the planet as a whole. I am interested in ecological and integrative design systems thinking and would like to apply that thinking to my work and life. I want to develop lifelong tools for self-reflection so that I can become more adept at following my true calling in life from a place of personal power. I want accreditation for my work, and a team of supportive peers and advisors to help me stay true to my vision. I want support in continually refining my intentions, goals, and strategies for learning and action.

Social Entrepreneur

I am proud to call myself an entrepreneur, but my bottom line requires that in addition to financial stability, I achieve positive ecological and social change through my work. The products or services my business or organization offers contribute to the creation of a healthier planet and a more equitable, sustainable, and just society.

While I respect the good work accomplished by the nonprofit and government sectors, I see a need for more world-changers to step outside of these realms and apply their creativity, vision, and strategic thinking within the marketplace for the benefit of all and to contribute to the resource base available for positive social action projects. 




Community Organizer

street paintersI am deeply aware of the crises currently facing the earth and the world's peoples – climate change, widespread poverty, and hunger, dwindling fossil fuels, water shortages, to name a few. What gives me hope is the concept of ‘re-localization’. This growing movement acts to counter the negative effects of globalization by helping communities rebuild vital social support structures and strengthen local production, generation, and conservation of resources including water, food, and energy.

I want to be part of this movement by helping organize my own community to grow more of its own food and energy, capture and recycle more of its own water, and develop a strong regional economy. I want to help restore the lost connections between neighbors so that we can remember what it feels like to dwell in community. I want to help people strengthen their connection to the place they live and take responsibility for their role in creating a viable future for generations to come. 

Ecosocial Educator

kid with earthwormI run a learning center or offer educational services that help individuals and/or communities align their values and actions with the well-being of the planet and the human community. The models and information I share are a pivotal force in creating positive world change. I may direct a permaculture learning center, or have developed a unique healing modality that helps people transition into more self- and earth-loving lifestyles. Perhaps I have designed a new model for implementing re-localization strategies. Whatever my area of expertise, it aims to regenerate the health of human communities and the earth.

I would love to be able to integrate the action learning and big-picture planetary regeneration model of Gaia University with my specific area of expertise so as to help cultivate a new generation of world-changers and social entrepreneurs.

Project Completer

woman with modelI am a pioneer in my field seeking to bring a new ideas into the world. I have a dream to complete a strategic project which I believe could bring about great positive change for human society and the Earth – for example, a book, documentary, research project, or design of a replicable model for broad-scale ecosocial regeneration. I have conducted research and put some of the pieces together, but I just can not seem to find the time, focused attention, or structure to complete it. I know that if I had the support of colleagues and advisors and a learning framework to help me to complete the project step-by-step, I could refine my project design and complete the work.   


I am in contact with an individual or group doing extraordinary work in the area of ecosocial regeneration. I want to help document their work so that it can be shared with a broader audience. As they are so deeply engaged in their work, they do not have the time or energy to fully document it themselves. I would like to work closely with them and harvest the most useful elements of their research/model or system/insights because I believe it would be of tremendous benefit to the world.

I need consistent due dates, a learning framework, and supportive team of peers and advisors to help me complete this documentation process and refine it into a form that can be most easily accessed by those who would benefit from it. In this process, I will improve my skills as a documenter, knowing this is a key element in bringing powerful ideas forth into practical action.

Ecovillage Specialist

andrew and group at solar panelsMy interest in Gaia University is inspired in part by knowing that the founders are deeply informed by, and integrated into, the worldwide ecovillage network. I am passionate about the role that ecovillages can play in changing the world. I have spent time living in ecovillages and/or want to establish my own. It seems to me that the pioneering social and ecological design models that have emerged from ecovillages are of vital importance in helping the larger, fossil-fuel dependent culture transition to a viable post-carbon future.

I would like support in accomplishing one or more of the following goals: establish an ecovillage; research an aspect of ecovillage living or design; create knowledge-sharing systems; create resource-sharing systems; create income-generating systems; document and disseminate valuable information about replicable models developed within ecovillages for the benefit of the broader culture.

Ecosocial Elder

joyous elderI am a pioneer in permaculture design, ecovillage design, alternative currencies, healing modalities, art in ecology, or other leading-edge ecosocial change work and have been for many years. I know that my work is vital in shifting the human culture toward planetary regeneration, but I have not been able to broaden my reach to a more mainstream audience. Because my field is not yet recognized by the conventional educational system, I have never received formal accreditation for my substantial accomplishments and experience. I would like to gain formal recognition for the work I do. As a more fully recognized professional, I would more easily gain the visibility and credibility that is needed to move in larger circles.

I would like to focus more time and energy toward integrating conscious reflection into the work that I do so as to step outside of the reactive mode I sometimes fall into because I have so much on my plate. The Gaia University action learning methodology could assist me in this process, helping me to design my projects more effectively. I would like to document the work I am doing at a high level so that I can share it with my colleagues and the broader network. I would like to expand the forums in which I can share what I know with others who could use and disseminate this information.


I feel as if my entire life is in transition. Some days I am excited about the changes I am undergoing, some days I grieve over my past, and often I feel overwhelmed. I need support to move into a new stage in my life. I know that I want my lifestyle and my livelihood to be in greater alignment with my deepest values – spiritual, personal, and planetary. I have been learning about the new shifts in the culture as well as more balanced and healthy approaches to life, but I need a framework to explore these things and discover my special role in the planetary transformation taking place in our time.


I am new to all of this “ecosocial” stuff. I have read about concepts like permaculture, ecovillage design, whole-systems thinking, re-localization, bioregionalism, and transition and want to learn more. I am concerned about the state of the world and want to be an active part of effecting positive change. I want to do things differently – to really consider my actions and whether or not they are in alignment with my deepest desires and the well-being of the earth. I want to learn by doing – by visiting ecovillages, permaculture sites, and urban community building projects, engaging with projects that inspire me. I want to be part of a supportive network of peers and advisors who can help me imagine and contribute to the creation of a human culture that is just, equitable and living in service of the health of our planet.