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Community-Led Initiatives and SDG4: Quality Education

Networks of community-led initiatives networks are grounded in multiple, intersecting and ongoing learning processes, of varying degrees of formalisation, through which they generate and communicate the new skills, ways of knowing, forms of social organisation, cultural perspectives and actions necessary to understand and respond to emerging and fast-changing global situations by envisioning, planning, implementing and monitoring regenerative development pathways in local communities.[1][2] Such learning processes can nowadays draw on the accumulated knowledge and wisdom acquired over several decades by the global movement of pioneering communities and people.[3] Some of this intellectual and cultural capital has been incorporated into specific trainings such as Permaculture Design Certificates, Ecovillage Design Education and Transition Training. In most cases, this takes the form of education about, for and as sustainability - living (and learning) by example in addition to transmission of knowledge and skills.[4]

  • Promoting inspirational, communitarian and experiential learning courses that lead to the acquisition and development of the knowledge, skills and competences necessary to . These mostly emphasise place-based and lifelong learning, with initial learning conditions that reflect the qualities and circumstances of the community itself and a commitment to learning through shared action.[5][6][7][8]
  • Through projects such as Sicilia Integra, Gaia Education is using education to support the needs of migrants, including people displaced by climate change, through training programmes that connect their existing skills and capabilities with the needs of the places and communities that receive them.
  • Many ecovillages, permaculture projects and other residential communities host interns, volunteers and others on longer-term, less structured learning visits that allow deeper immersion, often equipping people to begin new projects of their own.
  • Some CLIs are also active in innovative forms of school-age sustainability education.[9]
  • Specific educational methodologies, techniques and tools, including Findhorn Ecovillage's Transformation Game (developed and used in Findhorn Ecovillage), Gaia Education's SDGs flashcards (Gaia Education) and techniques developed elsewhere but commonly used in CLIs such as the Dragon Dreaming design framework for project and team management design framework and Sociocracy system for inclusive decision-making and governance.[10]
  • Building on resonances between their own educational activities and wider fields of sustainability education, including specialist approaches like holistic education and transformative education, some CLIs have begun to collaborate with higher education institutions to produce new hybrid programmes.[11][12][13] Deepening such connections, CLIs have begun to develop strategic collaborations with and even emerge from within established higher education institutions[14][15] The ECOLISE network of European CLIs includes among its membership universities and other formal providers of sustainability education, in specialised support roles.[16]


  1. Ingram, J., Maye, D., Kirwan, J., Curry, N. & Kubinakova, K., 2014. Learning in the Permaculture Community of Practice in England: An Analysis of the Relationship between Core Practices and Boundary Processes. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 20: 275–290.
  2. Henfrey. T., 2017. Grassroots Education for Sustainability as Ecology of Mind: the Head, Hands and Heart of Societal Transformation. In Winn, J. & R. Hall (eds.), Mass Intellectuality and Democratic Leadership in Higher Education. London: Bloomsbury.
  3. Dregger, L., 2016. Ecovillages Worldwide: Local Solutions for Global Problems. Communities 18–20.
  4. Sterling, S., 2001. Sustainable Education: Re-Visioning Learning and Change. Schumacher Briefings. Dartington: Green Books.
  5. Franklin, A., Newton, J., Middleton, J. & Marsden, T., 2011. Reconnecting skills for sustainable communities with everyday life. Environment and Planning A 43: 347–362.
  6. Axon, S., 2016. ”The Good Life”: Engaging the public with community-based carbon reduction strategies. Environmental Science and Policy 66: 82–92.
  7. Mychajluk, L., 2017. Learning to live and work together in an ecovillage community of practice. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults 8: 179–194.
  8. Buchanan, A., Bastian, M., 2015. Activating the archive: rethinking the role of traditional archives for local activist projects. Archival Science 15: 429–451.
  9. Rangel, C.C., Nunes, B. de M., Oliveira, W. de F., Delvaux, J.C., 2017. Permaculture: an alternative approach for environmental education in rural schools. Revista de Educação Popular, Vol 16, Iss 3, Pp 181-190 (2017) 181.
  10. Rios, M., 2011. Sociocracy: A Permaculture Approach to Community Evolution. Communities 20–23.
  11. Freedman, P., 2010. Permaculture and Holistic Education: A Match Made in Heaven... and Earth. Communities 46–78.
  12. Hong, S., Vicdan, H., 2016. Re-imagining the utopian: Transformation of a sustainable lifestyle in ecovillages. Journal of Business Research 69, 120–136.
  13. Stupski, K., Ciarlo, G., 2016. Learning in ecovillages and getting a college degree. Communities 32–76.
  14. Hugé, J., Waas, T., 2016. Sustainability Science in Practice: Discourse and Practice in a University-Wide Transition Initiative, in: Leal Filho, W., Nesbit, S. (Eds.), New Developments in Engineering Education for Sustainable Development, World Sustainability Series. Springer International Publishing, pp. 91–101.
  15. Lockyer, J., 2017. Community, commons, and degrowth at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. Journal of Political Ecology 24, 519.
  16. Accessed Feb 9th 2019.