ecological justice

A course for climate activists

Resourcing Climate Activists for Sustainable Environmental Justice Work

What if our efforts to create a more just and caring world weren’t separated from our efforts to adapt to near-term social and environmental collapse?

Together with colleagues from the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany, and other collaborators from across the world, our team designed a contemplative-based, anti-oppressive, and healing-centered course to help climate activists stay resourced in the work. Our program aims to help participants understand the relationship between the climate crisis and other interlocking systems of oppression, including white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism. It is also designed to help us develop the capacity to prepare for the possibility of both the “Great Unraveling” and the “Great Transition”, while continuing to care for each other and all life with a deep sense of courage and vulnerability.

We piloted this course over the spring and summer with a grant from the Mind and Life Institute. 

We are now making this course available to our wider community. Join us!

About Our Approach: Responding with Love to a Civilization in Crisis

We face a turning point between two futures: The Great Transition and the Great Unraveling. The Great Transition describes a future in which society is comprehensively reorganized to sustain itself in dynamic equilibrium with the Earth’s systems. Humans have never before sustainably organized a global society at such a high level of complexity, but for the first time in history it may be possible to live in a globally interconnected, technologically advanced, sustainable civilization – what some call an ecological civilization.

On the other hand, perhaps we lack the collective capacity or will to transform in time to avert collapse. Rather than shepherding the Great Transition, we could experience the Great Unraveling instead. The explosive growth of modern civilization was a historical event predicated on the exploitation of cheap energy reserves buried beneath the Earth’s surface. Now, society’s population and complexity have grown beyond our capacity to sustain them via the continued use of fossil fuels.

Without sustainable alternatives to the global order, the Great Unraveling will become a reality…Both these visions are clear and prescient. Both hold a certain truth, and in some ways, the Great Transition and the Great Unraveling are already happening. This world is dying, and the world that replaces it could be both more beautiful and more chaotic. Some people accept the inevitability of collapse and work toward deep adaptation; others accept the possibility of nonlinear social change and work toward deep transformation….

But what if our efforts to create a more just and caring world weren’t separated from our efforts to adapt to near-term social collapse? 

Our Support

This project is generously supported by a 2020 PEACE Grant from the Mind and Life Institute.

About the Study

The purpose of this study was to explore the ways in which our CourageRISE curriculum supports participants’ psycho-social health and sustaining their climate-related engagement.

A secondary aim was to explore ways in which this intersectional social justice curriculum helps climate activists understand the concepts of environmental justice—that is, how ecological hazards and climate disasters have the harshest impacts on people of color, native tribes and those on low incomes—and the ways in which climate change and white supremacy are interconnected.

Program participants were guided through a journey following the CourageRISE model. Our approach, which leverages somatic, trauma-informed, relational and restorative practice, is designed to do both.  Captured by the acronym CourageRISE, our five-module curriculum begins with a contemplative-based, relational compassion module (Courage) designed to help participants shift from a worldview based on separation and dualism–which underlies many of today’s crises–to an ecological systems view based on interconnections. 

Following this relational grounding in our first Courage module, we offered four additional modules that help participants RISE: 

    • (R)eveal truths;  
    • (I)nvest in healing; 
    • (S)sense alternatives; and 
    • (E)ngage ethically and responsively in community.

The course was facilitated by a multi-racial team and cohorts reflected participation from 17 countries across the globe.

Results from this study will be shared when they are available. Join our mailing list to receive updates!

Join us!

We’re now offering the course to our community for free.