Gaia U – what we do

For the last 11 years Gaia U has been training its student associates to take leadership as actionists in the world.  They are courageous folk with the stamina to step out of the mainstream, stretch their personal edges and make a positive difference in the world, one project, one village, one town, one nation at a time.

The results have been significant. Although we are a small university, our “ripple effect” has been considerable. From creating a business working with corporations to regenerate their supply chains (Terra Genesis International), to forming NGOs teaching the next generation to care for the Earth (Aspen Tree) and to building food autonomy in the UK while resisting prisons and repression (Empty Cages Design) we are thrilled by the work of our associates and graduates.

See just some of the projects initiated and led by our associates at the bottom of this page and read as well their testimonials. Altogether these confirm the value of our approach based on zestful learning and unlearning through constructive action in the world, supported by skilled mentors and like-minded colleagues.

Our associates – who are they?

You will have already noticed that Gaia U is and continues to develop as “unusual”.  Our students may be described as spirited un-usualists, that is, people who understand that uncritical conformity with the current, dominant ways of thinking is neither useful nor enjoyable nor helpful in the process of transitioning human cultures towards ecological regeneration and social justice.  They are not however simple rejectionists, rebels, and complainers. Instead, they are willing to acknowledge their own part in the great human experiment to date and meanwhile know they are seeking intelligent means to liberate themselves and others and change the story for everyone.

Climate Change and why we need your help

Navigating climate change whilst attending to social justice is in our view the critical challenge of our times. The recent book by Paul Hawken, Drawdown, is ample evidence that there are plenty of appropriate actions available. Many of these actions are capable of both drawing down carbon and empowering communities. This ecosocial blend is the arena in which Gaia U and its associates excel.

Our goal for the next decade is to train yet more climate actionists who have the courage, the skills and support to take significant leadership in the ecosocial drawdown field.

Our epiphany and Sonita Mbah of Cameroon

Last year we had an epiphany. An anonymous donor asked how he could help Gaia U. He had heard of our work through a close friend who action-learned with Gaia U and spoke very highly of her experiences.

Would he offer two Masters degree scholarships for some worthy students from Africa we asked?  We had already met a powerful young African woman, just 21 years old, a co-founder and leader of a comprehensive ecovillage project in Cameroon designed to leverage an ecosocial transformation in the region.

Currently working as an organizer for GEN-Africa Sonita Mbah had been reconnecting young people to the land and carrying out youth entrepreneurship and cross-cultural education programs through youth camps, and initiatives related to climate change adaptation. Young adults leading youth is an effective edge for change.

With our donors blessing we proposed Sonita for one of the scholarships, and to reinforce the projects already underway, later selected her cousin Koh for the second.

Now completing the first year of her MSc degree in Integrative Ecosocial Design, Sonita’s passion for this work has led her to experiment with establishing a green economy as a solution to both the growing rate of unemployment in her part of rural Africa and to climate change. See this video, filmed at the COP 22 Climate Change Summit, as it speaks eloquently of Sonita’s achievements so far.

The power of scholarships

We realized that this scholarship assistance, well beyond the willing but necessarily sparse help we have always given to applicants with limited access to economic resources, is a potent means to multiply the impact of the work of Gaia U and our associates in the world.

So we have opened up this Climate Stewards Scholarship Fund to benefit any worthy applicant.  And that is where you come in!


How you can help

Donate to our Scholarship Fund!  There are several ways you can do this.

General Fund -This fund will grant full or partial scholarships to applicants who pass our selection process.  We are particularly interested in funding applicants who will put their focus on becoming Ecosocial Climate Stewards

Ally Fund – Do you know a particular person whom you consider to be a worthy applicant?  Mention their name on your donation form and we will connect that donation to their application.

Gaia U Associate Fund– If you know of a person who is already enrolled in Gaia U who needs help with tuition fee payment, be sure to mention that on your donor form. We will earmark that funding for payment of their fees.


There are hundreds of potentially powerful actors who are poised to take significant and strategic actions, actions that will produce grounded results with far-reaching effects. They may have projects already on the go or be ready to be design and implement new ones.  For many their main set back has often been funding and access to resources. Your contribution will help these inspired leaders and innovators gain access to the essential training and mentoring Gaia U provides.

Make a resounding difference by supporting these spirited un-usualists, by joining them in making positive planetary change. Mama Gaia (planet Earth) will be ever so grateful.

For more information on our criteria for selecting scholarship applicants click here (will open in new tab).

Incentives – plenty of reasons to contribute

Added value incentive – receive Gaia U perks. These include everything from course discounts, course content, mentoring sessions, and attendance in our programs. Click here for donor levels and full perk descriptions.

Stacked incentive – build community resiliency. Help Gaia U scholarship applicants by inviting your friends and family to donate to the Climate Steward Scholarship Fund. If you are already a member of our community, ask about our incentive based marketing bonus. Please email to receive our virtual Scholarship Fundraising Kit.

Contribution incentive – receive  a tax deduction. Through our fiscal sponsor Global Village Institute, we are happy to arrange a tax deductible donation for a minimum donation of $500. If you would like a tax deduction for your donation, please fill out the form below and mark the box titled “I’d like to make my donation tax deductible.”

“Gaia University has enabled me to broaden my knowledge and hone my skills as a regenerative designer. With the support of an international community, I’m developing a project which is my own living testimonial of permaculture practice. My role in the world is gradually gaining shape and my long term career pathway has begun.”

Herman Koh, active Gaia U MSc Candidate, Cameroon, Africa

“My life has changed! A new circle began when I became a Gaia U associate. I’ve turned the page and now I’m developing my ecological intelligence as an integrative ecosocial designer. Never before have I had these feelings of connection or this level of consciousness about my acts and thoughts. Gaia U is part of my life and my growth. It is not just a University; it is the solution to the problem.”

Monica Engel, Gaia U BSc Graduate, Brazil, South America

“Gaia University has been really inspiring! It is empowering me to design a better and healthier lifestyle and learning path, connecting me to a network of like-minded world changers which is absolutely gratifying. I am struck by the level of engagement and meaningful dialogue between the advisers and associates.”

Sheena Shah, Gaia U associate in the International Diploma of Permaculture Design, Kenya, Africa

“Coming from a traditional education system where educational institutions are a tool for dis-empowerment and re-production of inequality, Gaia U was for me a gate to a new world of genuine learning, inner transformation, and personal growth. The self-oriented learning path I followed under the diploma program allowed me to design my projects within my local context, which was particularly important in a war-stricken country like Syria. My project choices concentrated on transformation of permaculture-related material into Arabic which I believe is the first step towards spreading this vitally important knowledge in this part of the world”

Nadia Attar, Gaia U graduate in International Diploma of Permaculture Design, Damascus, Syria

“My studies have provided me with an amazing journey with a strategic focus on social entrepreneurship and Agro-ecology. I have carried out projects on High Value Agricultural Products and Ecovillage Design Education. They are strengthening the economic growth of my community, repurposing our educational system, enhancing permaculture design processes to personal and collective growth. Developing and implementing such long-lasting projects in local ownership requires a deep understanding of the local context, an extensive knowledge of innovative solutions and a truly participatory approach. In the end, although the days were long and hard, my work this year filled me with pride. That pride confirms and reinvigorates my love for nature and community. I have, through Gaia U’s support, identified blockages, allowed them to manifest and used them as spring boards for opportunities that have continued to shape my life and allowed me to embrace a life of purpose and intention. I have grown with the community, benefited from an easy access to expert support and guidance. This has helped me underpin my knowledge and engagement in diverse fields. I have improved my communication, facilitation and networking skill flexes, built strong support network and optimized my niche in social entrepreneurship and agro-ecological Design. The financial and moral support of many is at the center of this transformation. It feeds the enthusiasm that has enabled me to weave the work that needs to be done within me, and that which has to be done out in the world.”

Sonita Mbah, active Gaia U MSc Candidate Cameroon, Africa