About Spiritual Ecology
“The ecological crisis also reflects something deeper and more intimate: a spiritual crisis — one of perspective, meaning, solidarity, and practice. And therein, perhaps, lies not only our indictment, but our hope.” – Andrew Zolli
In a time of ecological unravelling and conflict, spiritual values have the potential to provide the foundation from which to respond, rebuild and reconcile our relationship with the earth, our common home.
Spiritual Ecology is an emerging field that joins ecology and environmentalism with a deeper awareness of the spirit, sacredness or divinity within all creation. It calls for responses to the environmental crisis that go beyond technological, political or economic solutions, but that create a deeper shift in our underlying beliefs, attitude and relationship with the earth. The five core values include: interconnectedness, reverence for nature, compassion, service and stewardship.
About the Programme
The Spiritual Ecology Leadership Programme is a unique eight month journey of deep study and practice bringing together the next generation of leaders and change-makers from a diverse range of fields, who are initiating practical projects to build a sustainable future deeply rooted in spiritual values.
The Programme offers an immersive experience of study, reflection, training, mentorship, project development and implementation. A core component of the course is the opportunity to design and pilot your own spiritual ecology project and develop a long term vision with the possibility of funding.
We are looking for ten emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds and faith or spiritual traditions to participate, as well as people without any direct spiritual/religious affiliation. The programme is fully funded with no cost to participants except for travel costs to retreats, and food expenses for shorter workshops. We are inviting applications from individuals who are committed to integrating spiritual values in practice to generate deep and lasting change and contribute towards a culture that lives in harmony with the earth. We are looking for individuals who have strong leadership skills and potential, as well as some practical experience, for example in leading and managing projects, facilitation, teaching and community building. Whether you are an activist, artist, writer, facilitator, educator, architect, or work with business, economics, law, food, media or culture – we want to hear from you!
The programme runs once a year with our next round kicking off in early 2018. Check out last year’s participants by scrolling down this page. Please see below for more information including teachers, mentors and course dates.
For news and updates on our spiritual ecology work, follow us on Facebook.
To support you we will offer:
- Teachers and mentors from the field: You’ll have the opportunity to learn from and build relationships with practitioners and exponents of the emerging Spiritual Ecology approach to environmental change.
- Leadership training: You’ll explore the inner and outer dimensions of leadership needed to create real change. This includes how to integrate the principles of Spiritual Ecology into our personal practice and lives. We’ll also train you in key leadership skills such as facilitation, group work and public speaking.
- Project development and mentorship: The central thread of the programme will be to develop and deliver an individual pilot project as a first step towards a longer term vision. You will receive training and 1:1 mentorship to support you to create a real impact and maximize your learning and development.
- Practical experience: During the programme the ten spiritual ecologists will collaborate to design and deliver a workshop to a specific community. You’ll have a live opportunity to learn and practice teaching and facilitation skills, as well as how to adapt the Spiritual Ecology approach to different contexts, and crucially, how to make an impact.
- Networking: You will gain a support network through St Ethelburga’s and forge deep and long term relationships with others from diverse backgrounds who are committed to this field of work including a network of participants from last year’s programme.
- Resources: We’ll give you a reading list and other resources to support your learning journey throughout the programme.
- Project funding: Whilst we cannot guarantee it, it is possible that there will be the opportunity to apply for seed funding for your project after the programme as part of our Associate Fellowship scheme which is launching in early 2018
Project development and delivery
During the course of the programme, participants will be required to design, develop and deliver a small pilot project as the first step of a longer term vision. The criteria for the project is as follows:
- To engage and impact a community of your choice.
- To have a clear purpose, create an influence and make an impact. We’re interested in projects that have the potential to make a real change whether it’s educational, creating a new tool or planting trees.
- To include a Spiritual Ecology approach. We’re interested in projects that unite spiritual values with environmental and social change making.
- To contribute towards a longer term personal/project vision. Ideally your pilot project will be the first step towards realizing the project or work that you want to dedicate yourself to in the long term beyond the end of the programme.
Ongoing support and mentorship for project development will be offered throughout the duration of the programme, on retreats and also outside of retreat time.
Another unique learning experience we are offering is the opportunity for the ten participants to deliver a spiritual ecology workshop to a pre-identified community (or possibly a selection of communities) that St Ethelburga’s Centre is collaborating with. This will give you a chance to work with other participants to explore how to support a particular community to integrate Spiritual Ecology into their philosophy and practice.
Please note that we are in the process of finalizing retreat dates and locations.
Attendance to all retreats and workshops listed below is required. Additionally, regular online meetings with the group and mentors, reading and project development work in between retreats (dates and times of online meetings to be in confirmed nearer the time).
Retreat 1: The Principles of Spiritual Ecology
February 16th – 23rd 2018, an 8 day nature immersion retreat in the Brecon Beacons, Wales:
- An introduction into Spiritual Ecology; the principles, practices and the connection with different faith/religious traditions
- Deepening our inner relationship with the Earth through indigenous teachings with Tiokasin Ghosthorse, a Lakotan elder
- Leadership and sacred activism with Adam Bucko, a Christian contemplative and activist
- Group discussion and reflection on projects, long term visions and faith traditions
- Time to explore personal Spiritual Ecology practices
Retreat 2: Tools for practical implementation
29th March – 2nd April, a 4 day workshop in London at St Ethelburga’s Centre:
- Practical skill building and training workshops on relevant topics such as facilitation tools and project management
- Tools, resources and workshop templates for teaching Spiritual Ecology
- Inspiration and stories from the field with founder of the Alliance of Religious Conservationists, Martin Palmer
- Collaborative workshop development time
Retreat 3: Collaborative workshop delivery with faith community
Mid-May, a 2-3 day gathering that includes the final planning and delivery of a 1/2 day workshop to pre-identified community at respective locations.
Retreat 4: Individual pilot project development
14th – 17th June, a 4 day retreat (location TBC) focusing on taking forward pilot projects;
- Community case clinics and peer to peer coaching on projects
- Solo time for reflection and project development work
- Time to explore personal spiritual ecology practices
Participants will then deliver their pilot projects between July – September.
Retreat 5: Closing retreat and next steps
13th – 16th September, a final retreat to process learnings and explore next steps:
- Presentations of project delivery, key learnings and next steps
- Closing and personal reflection time
- Feedback and evaluation
- Transitioning into St Ethelburga’s Centre Spiritual Ecology alumni or Associate Fellows
Spiritual Ecology can be defined as a spiritual response to our present ecological crisis. It is a developing field that joins ecology and environmentalism with a deeper awareness of the sacred within creation. It calls for responses to the environmental issues that include spiritual awareness and/or practice. It acknowledges that at the root of the ecological crisis of our civilisation is a spiritual crisis and therefore to resolve such environmental issues as depletion of species, global warming and over consumption, humanity must examine and assess our underlying beliefs and attitudes towards the earth, and our spiritual as well as physical responsibilities towards the planet.
Central to spiritual ecology is an understanding of the interdependence and living unity of the ecosystem. Real sustainability refers to the sustainability of the whole ecosystem, requiring a way of living in harmony with the earth and a culture that cares for the soul as well as the soil. We are inspired numerous religious and spiritual traditions including: Thomas Berry and Pope Francis from the Christian tradition, Joanna Macy and Thich Nhat Hanh from the Buddhist tradition and Vandana Shiva and Satish Kumar of the Hindu tradition.
In addition to the Youth Fellowship, we will be hosting a series of public talks and workshops open to everyone. These will be listed on our events pages which are updated regularly.
“It is hard to put into words the manifold impacts that this experience has had on me. The programme has deepened my connection to the Earth as a whole and to other non-human life, striking at a very deep core. It has instilled a deeper sense of commitment and dedication, gifted me with a beautiful community of friends and activists. I have experienced first-hand how spiritual ecology is a central tenet around which individuals from diverse faith groups can come together and even though their traditions and practices may differ, they can be united in their reverence and love for the Earth. I gained additional confidence in my skills of contributing something positive and beautiful to communities by opening and holding a space for interactive reflection and connection.” – Janosch Sbeih
“I feel I have really stepped into my power, developed my self-confidence, refined my work, my vision, moved closer to realizing my long term vision, found people to work with, integrated my connection o nature with my spiritual practice. It has changed my life, thank you!” – Kara Moses
“The programme has had a huge impact on me, it was so transformative that I now struggle to put words to it…. on myself it has galvanized me into creative action and boosted my confidence to begin things. In my work it has resulted in me trading the path I am called to with greater balance and a bigger vision.” – Beth Thomas
“This has been the best thing I’ve ever done; I’m stronger, more focused and more determined in myself, life and work. Having the encouragement and the backing to get out there and start a project, this was so vitally important and valuable for me. There are thousands of young change-makers who need that push and support to get them rolling, I feel so blessed to have had this push!” – Matti Spence
“The programme has been a very life changing journey for me. The fellowship has given me a sense of motivation, purpose and direction. I now feel that I have the tools, the support and the network to do what I want to do. Spiritual Ecology is an amazing framework to work under and it gives me so many opportunities to bring it into my own aspirations.” – Abdulqadir Hussein