NEW Online Haumea Ecoversity course:  Embracing EcoSocial Values for Systems Change with the Earth Charter

An article on the newest Haumea Ecoversity 6-week online course on the Earth Charter by Cathy Fitzgerald, first written for the ClimateCultures network. My thanks to Mark Goldthorpe for the invitation.

NEW YEAR 2022 Haumea Ecoversity Earth Charter
6-week Online Course Booking Information, begins 19 January

The Earth Charter is the next big thing…

[Photographer unknown]

‘In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.’  

The late Dr Wangari Mathaai, the first forest-planting environmental activist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the first East African woman to gain a PhD, and early Earth Charter drafter and commissioner.

Why is the Earth Charter important for a better world?

Encompassing a means to think about ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE TOGETHER, the Earth Charter principles help us think, act and lead in the interconnected, interdependent way living ecologies work. This is how we can progress personal, collective and planetary wellbeing. However, Founder-Director Dr Cathy Fitzgerald of the online Haumea Ecoversity who is offering a new course on Earth Charter values for creatives and cultural professionals, shares it has taken two decades for sustainability educators to prioritise integrated ENVIRONMENTAL and SOCIAL values education as envisioned in The Earth Charter (2000). Becoming fluent in integrated ecosocial values is fundamental for a paradigm shift toward compassionate sustainable living. Only by appreciating intersecting environmental and social realities can citizens, educators, businesses and government develop an ecological mindset, to act for an enduring, equitable era.

Evolving from efforts to clearly communicate Earth-aligned values in her ecological art practice research and teaching, in this new online Haumea Ecoversity course, ecological artist, sustainability educator Dr Cathy Fitzgerald, with philosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis, share how the peoples’ Earth Charter can help you gain an expansive ecological mindset, vision, values and new language, so you can communicate your cultural, community or business work for a sustainable, equitable world with ease and integrity.


The Earth Charter (2000) is a visionary, multicultural, citizen-led planetary document of integrated ecosocial principles for high-level transformative change, developed over a decade in the 1990s by people from all walks of life and ethicists’ contributions.

In the 21 years since its wording was internationally agreed, The Earth Charter remains a remarkable testament in our polarised world. Diverse peoples daring to dream together to determine guiding universal values for a better world is uniting and engaging. Since 2000, ordinary people, schools, universities, businesses, organisations and nations from around the world in all their cultural specificity have embraced The Earth Charter as a learning framework and mission statement for humanity’s potential to promote ecological integrity, social justice and democracy holistically, for sustainable cultural renewal and peace. Given the urgency to shift personal and corporate behaviour UNESCO (2003, 2019) particularly endorses The Earth Charter, as a key ethical learning framework for transformative learning, to guide all nations’ peoples toward the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Awareness of the importance of values education is growing. Or rather, people are recognising that in their enthusiasm to set new sustainable development goals that we have overlooked something vital, that we first need expanded values so our thinking and actions always encompass the wellbeing of Earth and all its inhabitants, in everything we do. 

We need an ethical guide to fairly implement the SDGs

Importantly, an integrated ethical framework like The Earth Charter prevents common misguided single-issue responses we see to the ecological emergency. Its 16 interconnecting principles for ecological integrity, social justice, nonviolence and democracy helps us think and act systematically, ecologically. This is the profound shift in perception urgently required across the dominant culture, if our species is to survive,

The Earth Charter is popular as it is a simply worded, almost poetic framework. As we have increasingly sidelined values education in the humanities (Engels, 2020) and culture, the Earth Charter has important potential to engage broad sectors of society.

The Earth Charter advances high-level transformative learning for a better world

The Earth Charter is also seen as a powerful pedagogical tool for transformative learning. Transformative learning is a radical departure from the ‘siloed’ Enlightenment disciplinary education model most of us have experienced. If we stop to consider our current education we can agree that it has inadvertently prioritised material wealth over social justice and alienated us from understanding and appreciating our responsibilities to live well with others and the wider communities of life. Thus, transformative learning represents a seismic shift in global education: its new aims encourage holistic ecological understanding for planetary citizenship and wellbeing, rather than education that is so preoccupied with economic growth. 

As education research confirms collective holistic, integrated learning as the best means to instil ecological behaviour and systems literacy, The Earth Charter is increasingly recognised in ESDEducation for Sustainable Development which influences education priorities in all UN countries (Hathaway and Boff, 2009; Sterling, 2010, 2020; Crowell and Reid-Marr 2013, Crowell, 2017, 2018; Vilela, M and Jimenez (eds.,) 2020; Korten, 2021, Kumar and Cenkl – Schumacher College, 2021). We all need to become aware of transformative learning especially as it is also central to the global 2021 UNESCO Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).  [Please note, transformative learning and sustainable living insist radical whole-of-society, whole-of-education-institute change beyond the scope of this article; if interested, see quoted texts].

Discovering transformative learning parallels ecological art practice

Incidentally, in my work to understand the big shift to transformative learning as a priority for global education, I recognised something else. Transformative learning resembles how ecosocial (ecological) art practices often operate. They similarly comprise constellations of activity: compassionate, creative, experiential, embodied and traditional knowledge is valued alongside disciplinary facts and figures. Their impacts are similar: transformative learning and ecological art practices support practitioners and audiences to gain guiding, responsible ecological worldviews of how nature works and mindful, creative inspiration to live well within larger ecologies. I’m reminded again of Professor of Art Education, Charles Garion’s earlier observations of the pioneering ecological art practices of Helen and Newton Harrison (2012), that such practices suggest a holistic model for ‘sustaining sustainability’ education that is presently not acknowledged. So no wonder in my recent ESD-Earth Charter training I resonated so strongly with sustainability educators efforts to explain transformative learning over recent decades. As an ecological art practitioner I facilitate transformative learning as my modus operandi, and I recently discuss other Haumea learners are welcoming this approach as well (Fitzgerald, 2021).

So why must everyone become fluent with holistic ecosocial values?

From struggling to communicate a new vision for ecological forestry in my ecological art practice, to listening to peers in the art in ecology field, and also to others in education, cultural and business spheres, people are sensing the current values we live by are too narrow. They correctly worry that single-issue responses are doing little to halt our rapidly unravelling world or change our fundamental behaviour. An accessible Earth-aligned framework such as provided the Earth Charter principles advances transformative learning for impactful real-world change, because it envisions and explains interconnected just, equitable and sustainable principles clearly. The Earth Charter can guide our activities so we always consider wider implications in all we do

From the positive response of diverse learners taking my pilot Haumea Earth Charter course, from the arts, science, community development, faith and business spheres, convinces me that the Earth Charter and getting clear about the potential of collective transformative learning can help others clarify Earth-aligned vision and values for their creative work or teaching, for their business, education or cultural organisations, faith community, or local government work.

I hope you might join us.


NEW YEAR 2022 Haumea Ecoversity Earth Charter
6-week Online Course Booking Information

  • We have a sliding pricing scale to suit your situation.
  • Our class sizes are small for supportive learning, so please book early to avoid disappointment. 
  • Or email Cathy at


I wish to gratefully acknowledge a 2020 Irish Arts Council Professional Development Award, that enabled me to gain accreditation from the international Earth Charter International education centre. I benefited from instruction and generous dialogue with international sustainability educators, like Prof Emeritus Sam Crowell, author of Emergent Teaching: A Path of Significance, Creativity and Transformation (Crowell and Reid-Marr, 2013), Dr Mirian Vilela, Dr Mark Hathaway and was inspired by passionate teachers around the world embracing ESD and the Earth Charter. I also wish to thank 20 Haumea learners and my collaborator, philosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis who from different parts of the world gave me such valuable feedback for the pilot Haumea Ecoversity Earth Charter course. I’m honoured to be travelling with others on such an enriching and inspiring journey- Thank you all!

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Dr Cathy Fitzgerald, Founder-Director of Haumea Ecoversity (PhD by Creative Practice, NCAD, Art and Ecology Research Fellow, Burren College of Art) is a successful and popular transformational learning guide, lecturer, writer, speaker and researcher for sustainability for the creative sector, an ecosocial practitioner for the ongoing Hollywood Forest Story -featured in The Irish Times, and a former scientist. This makes her uniquely placed to guide other creative professionals toward the most urgent challenge for contemporary art today – how can we effectively employ creativity to inspire societal change for the better world we know is possible.


References and Further Reading:

Crowell Sam (2018) Earth Charter Pedagogy 2.0: New Understandings of Emergence Applied to ESD: Kindle.

Crowell Sam (2017) Earth Charter Pedagogy: Integrating Peace Education and ESD (Earth Charter Pedagogy Book 1) Kindle.

Crowell, Sam and David Reid-Marr (2013) Emergent Teaching: A Path of Creativity, Significance, and Transformation. Kindle.

Fitzgerald, Cathy (2021) ‘Performers Break Cover for the Ecological Emergency at the Irish Museum of Modern Art’

GAROIAN, Charles (2012) ‘Sustaining Sustainability: the pedagogical drift of ecological art and practice. Studies in Art Education. Summer. 53(4), 283-301.

Hathaway, Mark and Boff, Leonardo (2009) The Tao of Liberation: Exploring the Ecology of Transformation. By Hathaway, Mark and Boff, Leonardo. Maryknoll, NY, Orbis Books [Ecology and Justice Series].

Korten, D (2020) ‘Ecological Civilization: From Emergency to Emergence.’ 25 May White Paper.

Kumar, S. and Cenkl, P. (2021). Transformative Learning: Reflections of 30 Years of Head, Heart and Hands at Schumacher College. Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers.

Sterling, S. (2010), ‘Transformative Learning and Sustainability: sketching the conceptual ground’, LATHE, Educ. Vol 5, 2010-11.17-33 on: ‘Re-thinking education for a more sustainable world 

Sterling, S. (2020) Transformative Education to Address All Sustainable Development Goals. Quality Education.

UNESCO (2021) Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development. UNESCO World Conference Education for Sustainable Development: Learn for our planet. Actofor Sustainability. pp 1-4. German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Vilela, M,. and Jiménez, A (2020). Earth Charter, Education and the Sustainable Development Goal 4.7, Earth Charter International, U Peace, Costa Rica.

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