ECOVILLAGE DESIGN EDUCATION: Design and Build the Future

Greenleaf Education Costa Rica in partnership with INVENIO University is working toward the design and construction of the world’s first purpose built educational ecovillage to be located on a university’s main campus. This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime and you can be a part of it – helping to envision, design, and create an ecovillage from the ground up.

After extensive conversations and visioning exercises, Adrian Lachner, the founder of INVENIO, and Steven Greenleaf have decided to use several hectares of land on the GHL Campus of INVENIO to create a new community within the greater INVENIO community dedicated to education, research, entrepreneurship, and sustainable community development. The “Green Village,” will become a center for education, innovation and personal growth. Demonstrations of existing sustainable and low carbon technologies, will exist alongside learning spaces, laboratories, and community shared spaces, all directed at the innovation and development of technologies and practices which move Costa Rica, Central America, and beyond toward a sustainable, prosperous, and just future. The canvas for the Green Village at INVENIO is yours to create upon. We are offering the Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) course which was conceived and created by Gaia Education Trust (

Program duration – 28 days – 130 contact hours, plus recreational and educational outings included

Target group –

Undergraduates, graduate students, professionals, and anyone committed to creating a better future. We seek to create diverse interdisciplinary groups.

Pre-requisites – None

Coursework in a related discipline;such as planning, architecture, building, conservation, biology, ecology, forestry, natural resources, wildlife, sustainability, environmental design, environmental management, tourism development, policy, community development and organization, anthropology, communications, business etc. is valuable. If you feel you can benefit from the course, but want to discuss your interests with us more fully please contact us.

Course fees – 

$4,900 US dollars. Includes all accommodations, meals, ground transport, airport transfers, course materials, and several recreational activities to help you enjoy and experience Costa Rica. Transportation to and from Costa Rica is not included.

Introduction –

The EDE is organized as a mandala that Gaia Education calls, “the sustainability wheel, encompassing what we perceive to be the four primary dimensions of human experience – Worldview, Ecological, Social, and Economic aspects. Each of these four dimensions contains five modules – twenty subject areas in total. The curriculum is thus a roadmap, designed to be inherently flexible and adaptable to unique local needs and circumstances.  This inherent flexibility makes the EDE applicable in intentional communities, both rural and urban, as well as in traditional villages, academia, professional circles, and beyond.”

  • Worldview values include demands for a new social structure. Sovereign states should themselves decide how they want to live with each other and nature in a responsible, socially just way. The goal is diversity rather than homogeneity; and sustainability, rather than depletion caused by the violent raping of the Earth.
  • Social values include participation by all, expressing that we are a “communion of subjects.” And the right to define how we want to live with nature and each other, as human and environmental rights.
  • Ecological values include clean soil, air and water, shelter and fresh local food in abundance while living in a diverse ecosystem, within a permissible “ecological footprint.”
  • Economic values include local economies under control of local democracy; and the subservience of economics to ecology rather than the reverse.                                                                                                                                             (taken from the Gaia Education EDE Curriculum guide)

The EDE has been taught in a wide variety of settings from urban to rural, and with a wide spectrum of participants, from planners, architects and developers, to indigenous peoples and activists anyone wising to create healthier communities which respect our planetary boundaries and grow a future of inclusive prosperity. Greenleaf Education Costa Rica is committed to using the EDE as a catalyst for sustainable development and environmental education.

Rationale – Gaia Education has created a curriculum grown out of years of experience and lessons learned from ecovillages in virtually every corner of the world. We have taken the Gaia Education framework and applied it to our project and added our own experiences and knowledge to offer you an incredible opportunity to not only learn from the wisdom of the Gaia Education network, but to be able to apply the skills we will be sharing in a real world creation. Our real-life, case study based approach, with a mix of site visits, lectures, discussions, presentations, and workshops gives the students opportunities to share and develop their ideas and solutions in a constructive and analytical group setting, with critiques by the group, course leader and guest experts.

Goals and Objectives –

Participants will acquire a full understanding of the EDE curriculum while finding their own approach to ecovillage design. Students will gain real world experience working in interdisciplinary teams to evaluate and address design challenges and create design solutions appropriate to the unique factors present at INVENIO – exactly the talents needed for success in future projects. The end result will be a design framework which will be applied to the creation of the Green Village.

Required materials – 

Laptop or tablet – project(s) and topic information from home on one or more solutions or themes the student wishes to craft and develop.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the EDE will have addressed each of the four dimensions of the EDE mandala (Social, worldview, economic, ecological) and the five learning outcomes within each dimension. Students will have collaborated and integrated the knowledge and experience of the other participants, including the members of the INVENIO community, and created a design for the Green Village, within the framework of the INVENIO GHL Campus Master plan. This is a truly unique opportunity to develop interdisciplinary skills and tools which can be carried forward into other projects in a way that truly reflects the challenges of creating new approaches to community development and integration.

Each student will demonstrate their command of the course materials by creating, either individually or in groups, a capstone project based on real world solutions to real world problems.

Assessment and Evaluation –

Students will be evaluated by their peers, the course leader, and themselves on the basis of their participation, professionalism, commitment, and their capstone project. Students who successfully complete the course will be issued a certificate of completion and a written evaluation.