Awakening Leadership Training in Thailand

Advanced Ecovillage Design Education

Programme Description

The Awakening Leadership Training is an exciting joint programme of Ecovillage Transition Asia, International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), SEM College and Gaia Education.  This innovative training builds upon more than 2 decades of grassroots leadership and engaged spirituality education in South East Asia by Spirit in Education Movement (SEM), INEB and ETA and more than 10 years of sustainability design training by Gaia Education.  The six month learning journey integrates and deepens exploration of the Gaia Education four dimensions of sustainability social, economic, worldview and ecological, as well as incorporating a fifth dimension on Skillful Means for Social Transformation. The immersive programme is based at Wongsanit Ashram (near Bangkok) eco-community, with exposure visits to Eastern, Northern and Southern Thailand.

It is designed to support people who work for social change to:

  • Deepen self awareness and compassion to stay balanced to cope with the uncertainties of the present world situation
  • Broaden perspectives on social and environmental issues, especially the hidden structural inequality and underlying root causes
  • Develop practical skills and meta-skills that can tremendously enhance work in the field and in the office

The course deepens the existing Ecovillage Design Education curriculum through a continuous, consistent learning process that emphasises inner cultivation as a foundation of integrated learning across all modules. This embodied learning is grounded in experience through connection of head, heart, hands and spirit together, and is an essential ingredient for fostering new paradigm leadership as it facilitates the shifting of consciousness in tangible ways.

The space and length of the training also offers a unique opportunity for participants to practice and experiment with community building and self governance, utilising the skills learnt throughout the program, especially decision making and tools for working with social dynamics. The learning community becomes a site of exploration and experimentation of new forms of power-sharing and participation, and providing space for participants to step into and explore new roles and patterns of living that they can take back with them, to continue their own cultivation.

Through self-governance, participants take responsibility and contribute to the co-creation of the learning process itself. Modules are presented as part of 5 learning dimensions, yet there is a continual weaving of all dimensions throughout the course that allows participants to continually integrate and embody their experiences.

Modules

Worldview Dimension – Self-discovery, Healing and Cultural Integrity

This is the first part of the programme, to provide participants with a foundation and conceptual framework for exploring further dimensions. Transformation of consciousness through diverse contemplative practices is explored seriously and in-depth; especially drawing on – but not limited to – the wisdom tradition of Buddhism from the SE Asian region. The learning also has a strong experiential dimension, in that worldview is not a concept that we learn, but is embodied in who we are and how we interact with the world around us. Modules build on each other, offering the space for deeply transformative processes to open up, and include trauma healing a vital process in self exploration. The learning also draws on elements of traditional wisdom in an effort to reclaim the global economy and create new patterns of localisation through ‘small, simple and slow’ solutions.

Social Dimension – Interpersonal Dynamics: Power Sharing and Compassion

This dimension offers vital skills in ‘building a community of good friends’, for participants to be able to experiment with and practice over the course of the program. Highlights of this dimension are the in-depth exploration of Compassionate Communication and Process Work as modalities for working with conflict, and acceptance of the full range of human emotions.

Ecological Dimension – Ecology and Design

This dimension is approached as a fully integrative experience, by taking place in an indigenous community whose worldview and ways of living still revolve around deep interconnection with their surrounding environment. Participants will have a unique opportunity to follow the rhythms and take part in the daily life of this community, and then draw on this experience as a key learning source on ecology and sustainability. Different ways of connecting with nature are explored, from old and new science, to traditional wisdom. Design weekis integrated into this dimension, with the community itself used as a practical model, and their worldview placed firmly at the centre of the design, that includes the unique landscape and its embeddedness in the stories the community tells of itself – the sacred forest, the representation of cultural histories in different parts of the mountains and lakes.

Economic Dimension – Eco-political Economy

This component is to take structural violence seriously at personal, local, national and global levels. It is a critical exploration into political economy – the theoretical constructs and philosophical roots of political ideologies, including an emphasis on Asian schools of political thought. Alternatives to global neo-liberalism are explored, including practical examples at community level, structural levels, and learning from active social movements at national and regional levels. A highlight is the inclusion of public seminars with diverse Asian thinkers and activists, to dialogue and interact on the themes Asian Political Thought, and Re-evaluating Liberalism.

Skillful Means for Social Transformation

This one-month immersion comprises of 4 modules.

i. Gaia Education Training of Trainers (that can be done as a standalone) made up of three parts:

  • Mindful Facilitation for Empowerment
  • Sustainable Development Goals for Multiplication
  • Gaia Education Edge Work

ii & iii. These modules encompass additional facilitation skills

  • Facilitating Joanna Macy’s The Work that Reconnects (including Deep Ecology)
  • Applied Drama for Facilitation

iv.  Community Organising

This module is dedicated to the theory and practice of Community Organising. This radical model rooted in early social justice movements in the US, and has been widely implemented among grassroot movements in Thailand over the past 2 decades. This is a powerful framework for understanding what facilitates social transformation, through exploring the shift from organising around single issues, to becoming a social movement for structural change.

Unique to this programme

Self Awareness

The complete journey grounded in critical self awareness as a foundation for personal growth. Different forms of mindfulness and reflection are embedded into the daily rhythms of the programme in order for participants to become present, calm and develop focused attention and emotional stability; to reduce self-centredness and develop empathy and compassion; to see things how they are, and comprehend and experience the deep interconnectedness that underlies all life on this planet.

Locations

The learning environment is an important factor in the learning experience. The learning sites are diverse, and provide a contemplative atmosphere that is so important to digest the learning. Locations themselves offer new and contextual learning, and help participants to embody that learning beyond intellectual understanding. Utilising location and landscape as part of the classroom are powerful ways for participants to interact, learn from, and explore over time their relationships with the environment and communities around them.

Exposure Visits

Learning directly through peoples’ lived experiences is another key aspect of integrated learning. Exposure and exchange with traditional and intentional community sustainability exemplars, urban and rural grassroots movements, and observing and experiencing their daily lived realities helps to deepen the learning process. Participants will be able to experience many examples of regeneration of traditional wisdom practices and cultural values as solutions that already exist, which are very inspirational as alternative sustainability models.

Certification

SEM College

Participation in the course can also contribute towards a certified ALT Masters degree (at pilot stage in 2018); Completion of the TOT will also provide Mindful Facilitation of Empowerment certification.

Gaia Education Certification

In partnership with Gaia Education, participants will be eligible to receive an Advanced Ecovillage Design Education certification, and Gaia Education Training of Trainer (TOT) that includes Gaia Education SDG Training of Multipliers certification. These certifications can also contribute to becoming a certified Gaia Education trainer. The Advanced EDE certification is in recognition of the 6 month timeframe for embodying the learning (beyond the usual 4-week Gaia Education EDE face to face model), and deepening and broadening of the learning processes and content.

Criteria for Advanced EDE Certification

  • Completion of at least (75%) of 4 Dimensions of Sustainability (Social, Worldview, Eco-political Economy, Ecological)
  • Completion of an additional dimension (5th Dimension) of Skillful Means for Social Transformation

*Note completion of modules & dimensions for certification can take place over more than one year.

Criteria for Gaia Education ToT Certification

Fully complete module (27 Feb – 13 March 2019) on Mindful Facilitation for Empowerment, SDGs and Edgework.

Who is Gaia Education?

Gaia Education is an international NGO is a leading provider of Education for Sustainable Development providing students of all ages and cultural backgrounds with knowledge and skills to design a thriving society. Students learn how to use energy and resources with greater efficiency, distribute wealth equitably, and make quality of life the focus of future thinking. Gaia Education learners become Changemakers, capable of playing active roles in transitioning their communities to sustainable and regenerative practices, lifestyles and infrastructures.

Our friends at Gaia Ashram (Thailand) will be offering a 4-week certified Gaia Education EDE training (29th July – 26th August, 2018) prior to the ALT. This training gives an overview of the four dimensions of sustainability through the EDE curriculum. It can provide a foundational understanding which can benefit your ALT learning journey, which expands upon the 4 weeks into the ALT 6 month program, as an advanced EDE.

More Information

Current and Future EDE Programmes

What is an EDE (Ecovillage Design Education programme)?

Change Agents

Ecovillage Design Education programmes, often referred to as ‘EDEs’, take place in 50 countries in settings ranging from tribal and traditional communities to intentional ecovillages, from urban slums to universities and training centres. The duration of these programmes are around 125 hours over a full month, although this may vary slightly depending on where and when they are taken. The EDEs provide participants of all ages with the knowledge and practical skills to design a society which uses energy and materials with greater efficiency, distributes wealth fairly and strives to eliminate the concept of waste.

How to run an EDE

Run a EDE Programme

Several of our EDE graduates have carried on organising EDE programmes in their local areas, and you are warmly encouraged to do so after completing your course.

The recommended time frame of an EDE is four weeks, however this is not fixed and varies with each individual programme.

The material can be condensed into smaller workshops, spread out over a longer period, or distributed in blocks at different times and locations.