Project Work

man taking measurementsSelf-directed project-based learning lies at the heart of Gaia University’s approach to education. We understand that a small amount of potent theory requires a large amount of practice in order to integrate true learning and unlearning. Thus, documented on-the-ground project work constitutes a large part of associates' efforts, at the diploma, undergraduate and graduate levels.

Curricula emerges from this project work and research and analysis follow from the associates' interests and the outcomes they experience in their project work.

While the nature and scope of projects vary, the themes and objectives of projects on the diploma, undergraduate, and graduate levels are unified in their relationship to Gaia University’s code of ethics: earth care, people care, and fair share.

The vast array of inspiring projects that our associates have undertaken is too long to list here, but here are a few quick examples, just to give you a taste:

  • men with wheelbarrow of strawIan Nigh of Mexico in his 2-year master's program in Integrative Ecosocial Design went from developing an organic roof garden on a family restaurant, to developing and building a new style of bamboo bicycle that enables rural farmers to carry their produce to market. In his capstone year, he developed a Gaia U inspired learning program for Australian aboriginal peoples in conjunction with an NGO working on aboriginal water rights. Five aboriginal associates entered Gaia U and the Gaia W. Australia allied association is in formation due to Ian's work.
  • Antja Kennedy of Germany used her master's program in Open Topic ('Movement Studies and Body Work') to develop the structure of her book, Bewegtes Wissen: Moved Knowing, which explores the movement school founded by Rudolf Laban and Irmgard Bartenieff. Her work was published and presented in 2010 to critical acclaim as a multi-media lecture-performance interweaving selected texts of integrated movement and strategic world change.
  • Connor Stedman of the United States pursued a bachelor's program with Gaia University in order to receive quality mentoring and support for his educational goals. During the course of his program he took significant steps to improve his teaching and presentation work, giving his first self-created public presentations, and co-creating and running a bi-weekly naturalist training program for adults. He built substantial new competence in personal finance, entrepreneurship, and administrative and project coordination skills. Connor has now entered a master's program at the University of Vermont, making powerful use of his e-portfolio to gain admission. 

For more examples of Gaia U graduate and associate projects, visit our profile pages.

bambooStrategic Projects

This is a concept we nurture in our diploma and undergraduate associates and require in graduate associates. One of the missions of Gaia University is to cultivate world-changers who are focused on the creation of new projects that will have substantial impact. As part of that mission we encourage and guide associates to design and work on creative, ambitious projects that have broad scope and applicability.

Our invitation to you is to think from a “big picture” perspective, with the larger aim of ecological and social regeneration in mind: “How can I design my project so that others can benefit from what I have learned and apply it anywhere in the world?” In this way, your project work becomes more strategic - maximum applicability and scalability, longer term, and greater impact, etc.

Diploma and Undergraduate Project Scope

yoav with solar cookerGaia University inverts the usual pattern of diploma and undergraduate students taking generalist courses and graduate students focusing on more specialized topics. During your diploma and undergraduate years we expect you to explore your many specific areas of interest while generally acting in service to ecosocial regeneration at a local level. Our requirements for strategic action are less intensive during early study years. We recognize that some associates are not even sure what projects they might engage in when they first enter Gaia U.  If that is the case for you, finding your project could be your first project!

Exploring options and finding your way, both personally and professionally, are important to us. You are a complete human being, not a disembodied mind, and we take a holistic approach to your growth as a person, as well as your development as a powerful actionist in the world.

Graduate Project Scope

working groupMaster’s and Post-Graduate Diploma programs are designed to support people who might already have some strategic goals and likely a project or projects that they would like to further develop and document.

The first year of a master’s program is often about getting to know Gaia University’s tools and methods, and experimenting with a variety of projects to find out what you know and what you need to learn. The second year of the master’s program is focused on applying your skills on a strategic level to a major theme that connects your interests and activities.

Gaia University’s structure is ideal for people who, through their life and work experience, have accumulated knowledge which may not have been fully organized and developed due to insufficient mentorship. Project and time management, social entrepreneurship, consultancy development, digital mastery, and other skill-flexes can be primary foci of graduate level work, along with the development of mastery in specific skills and content areas.

We especially seek to support people who understand the value of systems thinking and integrative knowledge, and who wish to be specialized generalists in their fields. For further thinking about how your project ideas might best integrate with Gaia University as a support structure, please visit the section, The Many Faces of a World-changer.