Our Founders
Liora Adler and Andrew Langford have been deeply involved as leaders in ecovillage, permaculture, bioregional and facilitation worknets for over thirty years. Through Gaia University, they are pioneering educational designs that allow learners to discover and demonstrate grounded solutions to complex ecological and social problems through the integration of ecosocial theory and hands-on practice.

Liora Adler
Co-president, Gaia University

b. 1946, New York City, USA

(Alejandra) Liora Adler is a visionary social actionist, educator, facilitator, mentor, event organizer, psychologist, holistic nutritionist and dancer. Raised during the 60’s social movements in the US, she came to understand that protest alone was inadequate for making substantive societal changes. Consequently, throughout the 70’s and 80’s she explored supportive, purposeful community building that provided both for physical needs and the basic human need for belonging.

In 1982 Liora co-founded a thriving ecovillage, Huehuecoyotl, in central Mexico, and in 1996, a mobile ecovillage and training center, la Caravana Arcoiris por la Paz  that for 13 years, shared knowledge of ecological systems and regenerative living while activating ecosocial movements throughout Latin America.

Liora has been a global leader in the ecovillage movement, where she served on the Board of Directors of the Global Ecovillage Network and as a representative to the United Nations. She has spent most of her adult life in Mexico and other parts of Latin America where she also helped form a village women’s sewing cooperative and a men’s campesino collaborative. She is a fluent Spanish speaker and has significant cultural and socioeconomic sensitivities. She has organized courses, workshops, events and artistic activities for 100s of people, including farmers, indigenous peoples, and permaculture practitioners on 5 continents. She was the lead organizer for the 2003 bioregional gathering of 800 people in Peru: El Llamado del Condor.

As co-founder and co-president of Gaia University, Liora has been intimately involved with its design and development. She also oversees operations, and mentors students and staff. Her feisty, outgoing nature, her capacity to negotiate for practical action in challenging situations and her resonance with people living both very simple and highly complex lives are key to the success of the project.

With her husband, Andrew Langford they co-founded Cambia: Drawdown by Design, an innovative ecosocial enterprise based on over two years of research under a grant from the Lush cosmetics company. Cambia has designed a holistic, permaculture-based system to grow almonds in CA, USA using 50% less water, increasing carbon drawdown from the atmosphere by 5 times and yielding a 40% increase in farm income. The1000 trees which have thus far been planted with these special rootstocks and planting techniques are thriving!

For the last several years she and Andrew have returned to their home in Mexico and put their attention to the pioneering alternative accreditation system they have been developing: iCAAFS- the International Cooperation for the Accreditation of Ancient Future Skills as well as a Regenerative Agriculture project in collaboration with the UNDP and Dept of Organics of the Ministry of Syria in which they have been training 100+ field and extension agents in permaculture, biodynamic and syntropic techniques which they pass along to the local campesinos.  And if that were not enough, she and Andrew have now become the Knowledge Exchange Coordinators of the Ecosystem Restoration Camps Foundation!

With so much on her plate, these days Liora dances to the tune of “older and bolder”!

Andrew Langford

Co-president, Gaia University

b.1949, Totnes, England

Andrew is an unusualist, a possibilist and a lover of small-scale living associated with large-scale thinking. In the early 1970’s, influenced in part by the book Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered, he transitioned out of an early career in industry to design and develop an open source, human-scale shoemaking workshop at a time when the mainstream manufacturing industry in England was abandoning the domestic workforce in favor of cheap labor pools on the Pacific Rim.

Andrew and his family supplemented their income through this 10-year period by cultivating an intensive smallholding, growing vegetables, wheat, pigs, chickens, geese and sheep. This smallholding provided essential resources and taught Andrew a profound life-lesson: people with willing hands and access to even modest amounts of fertile land and viable seed can provide for a good portion of their own needs, and this relative self-reliance confers upon them a great deal of freedom.

This experience primed Andrew to be an early adopter of permaculture design thinking when it first spread through Europe in the 1980’s. He soon became the first permaculture design teacher in Britain, and had a successful business  designing at garden and farm scale for private clients, as well as designing urban retrofits for local governments. He also his applied his qualifications from a Diploma in Management Studies and an M.Sc. in Organizational Analysis and Development to set the Permaculture Association of Britain on a successful course towards establishment. In 1993, Andrew designed and implemented the Diploma in Applied Permaculture system, an action learning worknet for the development of professional permaculture designers that has become a basis for capacity building operations in several northern European countries.

Andrew is a strong advocate for participatory learning and decision-making and is skilled in a variety of facilitation methods, including Future Search and Open Space Technology. He is the author of Designing Productive Meetings and Events, a field manual for UN Agenda 21 facilitators, and a recognized teacher of Re-evaluation Counseling, which promotes the discharge of internal distress and resolution of rigid, patterned thinking as primary routes towards the emergence of healthy, intelligent human cultures.

In Gaia University, Andrew champions action-based learning arising from thoughtful and protracted engagement over more common cerebral academic approaches. He oversees the development of an IT infrastructure based largely on open source platforms and supports the Gaia University community in the activation of complementary currency and project networking systems based on agile, leading-edge designs.

External Reviewers
Our sparkling team of External Reviewers have a key function in our system. They are independent and well qualified reviewers of the final portfolio of each Capstone Associate. External Reviewers carefully judge if the work done is of appropriate quality for the degree sought by the candidate. This team also comments on the quality of services Gaia University provides and we incorporate their feedback into our Continuous Quality Improvement process.

Dr. Susan Canney


Dr. Susan Canney has worked in science and conservation for a variety of projects in Africa, Asia and Europe. She currently directs the Wild Foundation’s Mali Elephant Project, studies coastal British fish populations with Pisces Conservation and collaborates with researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit modeling Africa-wide lion distribution and the decline of the wild dog population in Zimbabwe.

In her dedication to addressing environmental issues using an integral approach, Dr. Canney earned a series of master’s degrees – in zoology, landscape design and environmental policy. She earned her doctorate from Oxford University for research on changing patterns of human land use and their impact on a protected area in Tanzania.

Dr. Canney teaches at Oxford University and the Green Economics Institute and has served as a research officer at the Green College Centre for Environmental Policy & Understanding. She is the secretary and a co-founder of the Earth Systems Science Special Interest Group of the Geological Society of London, and of the Gaia Network. Dr. Canney is also part of Forum for the Future’s  ‘Reconnections’ team, which delivers programs for business leaders that focus on the values needed for a sustainable world and the importance of human reconnection to nature.

Prof. Dr. Ralf Otterpohl


Ralf Otterpohl is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Hamburg University of Technology in Germany. Since 1998 he has been director of the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection, which researches reuse-oriented sanitation concepts for both rural and urban contexts. He won his doctorate in civil engineering at RWTH Aachen for research on mathematical modeling and computer simulation of large waste-water treatment plants.

Dr. Otterpohl is Chairman of ZERI (Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives) Deutschland, which views waste as a resource and seeks regenerative waste solutions inspired by nature’s own design principles. He is also co-owner of the consultancy Otterwasser GmbH, which specializes in innovative sanitation concepts, and co-founder and co-chair of the International Water Association specialist group, ‘Resources Oriented Sanitation’.

Dr. Prof. Otterpohl’s current research is focused on the rediscovery of Terra Preta Sanitation as it was practiced for thousands of years in the Amazon. He considers this model for the conversion of bio-waste and human excreta, with the addition of biochar, into highly fertile soil, as the most successful system of waste management, sanitation and agriculture of all time. Dr. Otterpohl has started to develop a social entrepreneur’s network which promotes increased local productivity and water quality through soil improvement brought about by Terra Preta Sanitation enhanced by plant diversity and the application of permaculture principles.

Dr. Ann Kindfield
United States

Dr. Ann Kindfield is an experienced university instructor, research scientist, assessment developer and evaluator. She has taught biology, genetics and various science education courses, including work with pre-service secondary science teachers, at UC Berkeley, Montclair State University, and Vanderbilt University. She also has extensive experience in K-16 science assessment R&D in academic settings and at the Educational Testing Service, has conducted research on elementary science and secondary biology teaching and learning. In addition, she has served on advisory panels and as the evaluator for a number of science education research projects. Throughout her career, Ann has focused on the role that representations play in learning and reasoning.

Ann and her family moved to The Farm in Sumertown, TN in 2004 where she has been delighted to teach her daughter and daughter’s friends math a the The Farm School, work with her husband Peter (the Farm School principal), and continue her career as a science educator, primarily as a consultant. It was at The Farm that she was introduced to Gaia University, resonating with its alternative approach to higher education and recognition of non-traditional life paths.

Prof. Peter Schmid

Over the course of his prolific career, Peter Schmid has worked as an architect and engineer, designing and realizing major building projects across Europe and the US. In the sixties he was a pioneer in sustainable building design in Vienna, serving as a researcher on environmental health for the Austrian Ministry of Building; in the early seventies he became chairman of the first Belgian Association for Healthy Building and Living. In 1975 Schmid founded the Association for Integral Bio-Logical Architecture, based in the Netherlands.

Since 1972 Prof. Schmid has been a professor and, for a time, chairman of the Department of Building Technology at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. His previous academic appointment was at the Institute for Higher Technical National Education in Krems/Donau, Austria.

Prof. Schmid has written many publications and several books, including Bio-logische Architektur, with three editions. He is decorated with the Austrian ‘Cross of Honor for Arts and Sciences, 1st Class’ and received a gold medal at the 1987 4th World Biennale of Architecture.

Prof. Schmid continues as an active contributor to research and educational design in the architecture and planning industry, specializing in sustainable architecture, teamwork according to Method Holistic Participation and peace garden design. He is president of the Global Network of Organizations for Environmentally Conscious and Healthy Buildings and chairman of the Eindhoven Peace Centre Foundation

Dr. Lee Klinger
United States

Dr. Lee Klinger is an independent scientist living in Big Sur, California. Since 2005 he has served as director of Sudden Oak Life, a movement aimed at using ecologically-minded techniques to address the problem of oak mortality in California and elsewhere. In this role he strives to balance his activities between research, education, and practice of tree and soil science.

Dr. Klinger has over 30 years of academic experience in the environmental sciences and has held scholarly appointments at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado, the University of Oxford, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He has led numerous scientific field campaigns in the continental US, Alaska, Canada, Africa, and China, and has published over 50 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters in the fields of plant ecology, soil science, atmospheric chemistry, Gaia theory, and complexity.

Much of Dr. Klinger’s academic focus has been in the science of Gaia. He has taught courses on Gaia theory at the University of Colorado and at Naropa University, and from 1996 to 2000 served as Vice-Chair of the Gaia Society, now the Earth Systems Science Special Interest Group of the Geological Society of London.

Dr. Klinger also serves on the board of Teleosis Institute, a non-profit organization devoted to developing effective, sustainable health care provided by professionals who serve as environmental health stewards. He is also a Fellow of the Geological Society of London.

Advisory Board

Prof. Dipl. Ingl. Declan Kennedy
Declan Kennedy is an Irish architect, urban planner, permaculture designer, ecologist and mediator.

Kennedy is a former professor of Urban Design and Infrastructure at the Architectural Department of the Technical University of Berlin, Germany; a founding member of the Permaculture Institute of Europe; former Country Coordinator for Germany of the Global Action Plan for the Earth (GAP); and Chairman of the Board of the Global Eco-Village Network (GEN). In 1996, he functioned as an “ambassador” to the different UN commissions, following up the GEN proposal to the UN, “The Earth is our Habitat”.

Since the early 1980‘s, Professor Kennedy has worked internationally on the integration – based on permaculture principles – of ecological design into horticulture and agriculture, a concept he learned in Australia in 1981 and which he introduced to Europe immediately following. He has designed and implemented major projects around the world, especially in Australia, Brazil and Germany.

Together with his wife, the architect Prof. Dr. Margrit Kennedy, he had architectural and planning offices in both Hanover and Steyerberg, Germany. Their book, Designing Ecological Settlements, was published in German in 1998 and in English in 1997.

Prof. Kennedy’s preoccupation with permaculture and ecovillage design led to his engagement with Gaia University as founding chairman of the advisory board. Professor Kennedy’s current foci are spiritual healing, nature conservation and conflict management. Please visit www.declan.de for more information.

Peter Bane, Dipl. Perm. Des.
Permaculture designer and educator; former publisher, Permaculture Activist magazine; vice president, Association for Regenerative Culture; co-founder, Earthaven Ecovillage, NC, USA; adjunct faculty, Indiana University;www.permacultureactivist.net

Albert Bates
Permaculture designer and educator; retired public interest attorney; author of several books on energy, environment and history, including Climate in Crisis (1990) and The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times (2006); director of the Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology and the Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm community in Tennessee, USA