“My experience at GESA was very fruitful and supportive. After GESA I began to develop new ideas, which I feel have had an important influence on the way I work and see the world. Since GESA, I now work to incorporate new aspects, such as feelings and senses, into my work. I look at my work from the perspective of art, culture and connection. It is tempting, as a scientist, to see one’s topic in a material way, but with what I learned at GESA – not only from the formal sessions and workshops, but from my friends as well – I am more than ever aware that water is more than simply the material I work with, but is part of us, it is at the heart of life itself. This makes me approach my work with new eyes. GESA has provided me what a rainbow of possibilities – it has changed my life!”
Yolanda Lopez, Mexico, GESA 2014
“My experience at GESA 2014 was opened me up in more ways than one: it opened me to new ideas, new connections, and new ways of being in the world. It was at GESA that I discovered an amazing ecological learning approach – Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects. This discovery was incredibly transformational for me, to the extent that now I’m going to a training retreat with Joanna Macy in California to deepen my knowledge and practice. I believe that more people should have the opportunity of learning this approach, and I am beginning to apply it in my work and life in many different ways, including by organizing a Global Environments Regional Academy in the Dominican Republic, where I hope to enthuse other dynamic changemakers to discover the Work that Reconnects”
Daniel Abreu, Dominican Republic, GESA 2014
“As an independent researcher studying the ecology, biodiversity and indigenous knowledge associated with grazing pastures in South India, participating in GESA further strengthened my belief in engaging with practitioners from different fields. The rich experience of resource persons who come from diverse backgrounds ranging from activism, research, advocacy and the industry expanded my horizons. I now engage with photographers and artists in documenting and disseminating the findings of my study through various medium such as theatre, photography and films. Taking inspiration from GESA, along with one of the alumni and GDF staff members, Inanç Tekguc, I organised a workshop on photography and social media for the youth in one of the villages where I work. The biggest disadvantage of being independent meant not having colleagues and peers to learn from. After my participation in GESA, I found peers from across the world! It is a joy to interact, connect with and learn from the experiences of my fellow participants. Being able to participate in the prestigious GESA was, for me, an acknowledgement of my spirit of freedom and boundless possibilities.”
Jahnavi Pai, India, GESA 2014
“When I arrived at GESA in the summer of 2013 I was at an exciting, but apprehensive crossroads in my life, having just returned from three years working in India, Indonesia, Japan, The Philippines and Italy on indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights to land. Over the course of GESA I was fortunate enough to be able to speak of my experiences and begin to explore how to channel them into the next chapter of my life and work back in my own local community: Bristol, in the South West of England. The theme of wellbeing and internal and personal sustainability within environmental and social activism continued to emerge throughout conversations during GESA. This led a group of us – GESA Alumni – to create a project researching how food sovereignty, food justice and alternative food systems can be agents for wellbeing. This Alumni research project – which spanned a year after GESA via regular Skype calls within a dedicated working group – as well as the highly supportive, and creative environment GESA provided, led me to my current work with Community Interest Company This is Rubbish, as Artist in Residence with Cape Farewell, and as project coordinator on local cooperative farm in Bristol Beacon Farms.”
Nessie Reid, UK, GESA 2013
“The GESA experience has expanded my understanding of both the situated autonomy and interconnectedness of the environmental changes we live with. Most importantly, the experience has helped me in knowing and acting with other people living elsewhere in the world who through support, discussion and critical perspective give me direction, courage and strength to keep going in rechanneling the mainstream. This has been extremely important to the progress of my thinking, writing and activism.”
Citt Williams, Australia, GESA 2012
“Leading the Salvia Goethe Retreat for the Global Environments Summer Academy is a singularly rewarding experience. Opening the Academy, the five-day retreat takes place high in the alpine mountains of Kandersteg, away from the intensity of everyday life. Surrounded this magnificent landscape, we able to focus on our connection and commitment to the natural world, one another and ourselves without distraction. Through practicing Goethe’s holistic method of observation and engagement, as well as other creative exercises in deep ecology, participants have an opportunity to reconnect with their wider ecological identity; they then form a unique learning community based on this awareness. The result is a powerful foundation of shared experience and purpose, which is then carried into the remaining weeks of the Academy.
GESA’s innovative approach to environmental education creates a fresh space to explore ways we can affectively meet the most compelling challenges of our time. It offers an opportunity to engage the artistry of our own humanity, as we practice how we might live together well as a global community. There are so few programs courageous enough to be truly collaborative and capable of taking risks in the field of academia. GESA/GEN does both, and it is a joy and privilege to work to be part of this team!”
Emily Ryan, environmental educator and facilitator, leader of the GESA Dynamic Engagement Retreat.
“I have been involved with GESA since 2012, and am impressed by its vision of reaching out to young people from various countries, offering them a chance to get immersed in an exciting couldron of diverse disciplines, solid academics as also hardcore activism, classroom exercises and fieldwork, serious discussions and fun activities, and a lot of cross-cultural bonding. The tone of constructive challenging that is set for both the participants and the faculty, and the ability to question dominant or accepted systems of development, governance and conservation, is extremely valuable. I have no doubt that this experience would be transformational for many or most of the participants, enabling them to re-examine paradigms of understanding and action, and in some way to use the experience to chart out their own futures.”
Ashish Kothari, activist and academic, founder-director of Kalpavriksh and coordinator of the Radical Ecological Democracy Network, and regular GESA resource person.
“The challenges of our time demand new types of changemakers and leaders, especially those that have the skills and the guts to see the world and the challenges it faces with critical and clear eyes. This means cutting through the clutter of dogmatic surface solutions and simplistic ideas about incremental, institutional change to articulate, propose and implement the more radical political-economic, cultural, social and ideological changes necessary to come to a more sustainable and just world. GESA is a crucial building block in enabling this new type of leadership and associated trajectories of change to come about. Their activities, structures and ways of engaging people provide a glimpse of the world that we need to get to.”
Bram Buscher, Professor and Chair of the Sociology of Development and Change group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands.
“GESA was very different than what I expected – it was so much more! I was[EC1] expecting more a summer school format with readings and classes and more “academic”. I am so glad it was not this way. I wish I had known it was going to be so different, so that I would have come fully open and prepared for this deep and intense experience. How to describe GESA? Rather than a summer school focused on environmental issues, it is space to reconnect with ourselves, others, and the Earth and to keep this in mind.”
Anonymous evaluation, GESA 2015
“Wow. What to say. You are all amazing and each of you has touched me deeply. I feel so privileged to have been here and to feel like even a small part of your (our? this!) family and community. I love how this course breaks boundaries beyond the conventional. I love how it is flexible and … willing to risk touching upon what would not long ago have been considered “taboo” topics. The selection of participants and resource people was also brilliant. It really allowed us to both learn and see new worlds, but also to feel so at home and be able to express ourselves to a group of like-minded people to whom we did not feel we need to justify or explain ourselves or to defend our views.”
Anonymous evaluation, GESA 2015
“I hope that the lessons learned, friendships and partnerships forged, networks created, and the intangible values of communion will continue to resonate in the hearts, visions, and lives of everyone who was part of it. GESA reminded me that the future is bright.”
Anonymous evaluation, GESA 2015