learn: ecoliteracy

Cathy Fitzgerald PhD, ecological-social artist, educator, researcher delivers the following ecoliteracy courses and services across Ireland

Cathy Fitzgerald

Essential Ecoliteracy for Creatives, Teachers, Students, Curators

Half & Full-Day Workshops

In these urgent times, Cathy can expertly guide you through the environmental philosophy, science, ethics and advances in the art and ecology field, to make your creative practice, your art teaching and curating relevant the unprecedented eco-social emergencies that are unfolding.

Essential Ecoliteracy: CPD for Art Organisation Staff

Full-day workshop

Essential ecoliteracy can help art organisation staff update their knowledge environmental philosophy, science, ethics and advances in the art and ecology field.

This ecoliteracy learning can empower cultural staff for critical leadership to inspire and invite audiences and communities towards living well with each other and their environments.

Ecoliteracy Policy Research and Writing Expertise

Policy research and writing expertise

Cathy’s critical fluency of ecological insights and language means she understands the radical shifts in Irish cultural policy that the ecological emergency will prioritise.

Cathy has been invited to share her research reports at academic conferences in this area for several years.

Learn at Home: Online 6-Week Ecoliteracy Learning

Remote Mentoring

Ecoliteracy Essentials Workshop for Creatives

Introducing ideas of the Anthropocene and Symbiocene to third-level architect students for their landscape architecture course, Univ. College Cork School of Architecture, Nov. 2019.

Half-day introductory talk or a Full-day of modules can be offered

Suitable for: adults, third-level art students, educators, curators, art researchers of all creative disciplines.

The information* in this course (an introduction to environmental philosophy, science, ethics and advances in the ecological art field) will be invaluable for creatives and educators to contextualise and communicate ecological ideas for:

  • creative practice, art teaching or curating
  • for thinking, designing effective creative projects or programmes
  • future funding applications

Cathy has taught undergraduate Art and Ecology programmes at the Burren College of Art, tutored MA and PhD art candidates, and has facilitated Art & Ecology sessions for the Cowhouse Studios, Co. Wexford. She has also provided lectures for Cork University and Dublin University of Technology third-level Landscape Architect students.


“It was a great pleasure to attend Cathy’s first ecoliteracy workshop. One of the most important aspects of the workshop for me was how it reflected the breadth and depth of Cathy’s understanding and passion for developing the interrelationship between art, ecology and sustainability. Cathy shared her knowledge of environmental thinkers and philosophers with such warmth, openness and generosity. She has truly opened up a new way of thinking about social practice for me, and she also introduced me to a host of thinkers whose work is exciting and challenging.

Cathy has an extraordinary mind which is deeply analytical and equally creative. Her training and love of science and research is matched by her creative socially engaged practice which brings science and art together in her unique way.
I would urge anyone with an interest in ecology, art and sustainability to take Cathy’s classes and workshops. Her willingness to share her work and nurture that of participants is evident in her warmth, sincerity and passion for her work. She is a phenomenal teacher with so much to share.”

Martina Hynan
PhD researcher, artist & activist
Centre for Irish Studies
NUI Galway

“I’ve known of Cathy’s practice for years and had been looking for a way to work with her for some time. Recently, we ran a residency called How to Flatten a Mountain and it was our good fortune that Cathy was able to run a day-long workshop with our resident artists. Cathy was a fantastic facilitator and the artists were drawn to her ideas. She spent the morning speaking about her project in Hollywood Forest and related ecological issues. In the afternoon she took us into our own forest and met with each participant individually. It was evident by the work produced that Cathy had a significant impact on many of the artists. Without hesitation, I would recommend Cathy and happily invite her back for future projects.”

Frank Abruzzese, Art Educator, Co-Manager, Cow House Studios, May 16, 2018, 2019. In 2020, Cathy continues as a client of Frank and Rosie O’Gorman.

Read more testimonials here

* While Cathy’s background is in Visual Contemporary Art, ecoliteracy (ecological knowledge) is relevant to those in any creative discipline.

Ecoliteracy Essentials: CPD Workshop for arts organisation staff

Fluency of key ecological concepts is becoming essential for art managers, art administrators and cultural policy writers

Full-day workshop for art organisation staff

Modules on ecophilosophy, psycho-social supports, navigating environmental science and ethics with ease, understanding Earth Charter, Rights for Nature and understanding how creativity has a critical role to inspire audiences and communities about the UN SDG’s and forthcoming UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-30)

Ecoliteracy is a priority for creative administrators and policy writers to write effective art programmes, to design calls for creative opportunities and develop cultural policy that avoids superficial engagement with environmental and sustainability concerns (green-washing of exhibitions, festivals etc).

Ecoliteracy contextualises and critically informs us of the limitations of ‘sustainability’, ‘sustainable development’, ‘resilience’ and other environmental concepts etc

Ecoliteracy informs those in the creative sector that promoting projects for just one symptom of the ecological emergency – ‘climate change’ or ‘biodiversity’, fails to acknowledge the URGENT SYSTEMIC predicament society is facing. Siloe-ing the emergency in this way reveals a lack of ecoliteracy. Such uniformed efforts do not signal to the cultural sector the paradigm shift in culture that is needed and how every aspect of how we live must change.

Informing staff, who design art programmes or who write cultural policy, with ecoliteracy can avoid wasting limited arts funding and resources.

Ecoliteracy helps us discuss the shift in the priorities of cultural work in these urgent times. The slow deep work of creatives becoming knowledgeable about the ecology of places, suggests a shift in support for creatives to live and work long-term within and for their home places and communities


“If life gifts you the opportunity to work with Cathy Fitzgerald, consider yourself lucky. If you are a policy-maker, please listen to her wise counsel. If you are considering signing up for one of her courses, do so post-haste. If you are a patron of the arts, get out your chequebook and put a lot of zeroes after that first positive integer.

Cathy is an incredible resource for art education institutes, art organizations and individual artists of all kinds. Go to Cathy to increase ecoliteracy (eco-wisdom, eco-cultural skill) and rejuvenate your own art practice or that of your students and/or community. Bringing ecology and art together is essential right now, and Cathy understands the social, political, scientific, philosophical, and creative challenges it presents.”

Dr. Nikos Patedakis, philosopher, educator and mentor

Learn at home! Essential Ecoliteracy for Creatives, Art Educators and Art Workers: 6 Week Pilot *International Online Course

My idea for an accessible online course on Essential Ecoliteracy for Creatives will offer a cohort of creative people to learn together in their own time and at home.

February 26 2020: I announced my Pilot 6-week Online Essential Ecoliteracy Course from 13 Mar to 22 April 2020. Please see here for course details.

Note, the course is now FULLY-BOOKED but please contact me if you want to be put on the waiting list.

Mentoring – Coaching

Develop you own practice with access to Cathy’s knowledge and expertise in ecoliteracy.

Cathy has advised artists, musicians, composers and curators who endeavour to work with eco-social issues or concerns. Cathy has in-depth knowledge of the art and ecology field from her practice and research developed over two decades.

To effectively reflect key ecological insights and concerns, Cathy can help you navigate environmental philosophy, science, ethics, environmental art, art and science, and ecological practices, introduce you to the fields of ecofeminism and ecocriticism and pinpoint relevant resources and possible opportunities to advance your creative practice, or creative practice research.

In development.

At present, I am suggesting to those that contact me for mentoring to do the ecoliteracy online course or an ecoliteracy workshop with me first. It will be more cost effective for you and I can gauge if working together will be a good fit for both of us.

See this page for further information.

Ecoliteracy Policy Research and Writing Expertise

Cathy’s research and writing skills evolved through her doctoral-level research in ecological art practice (The Ecological Turn, 2018) and her ongoing review of advances in the emergent art and ecology field, and her earlier career in writing scientific reports. Cathy has read widely across the art and ecology, ecocriticism, ecophilosophy and environmental ethics fields over many years. Her first art article was based on her undergraduate Fine Art thesis ‘Science and the Eclipse of the Earth’ (CIRCA, 2001).

Cathy’s article ‘Goodbye Anthropocene – Hello Symbiocene’ (2019) first presented at NUIG and then at the international Anthropocene conference at Trinity College Dublin reviewed new ideas by philosopher Glenn Albreacht in his 2019 book ‘Earth Emotions’ and how they might frame advances in situated eco-social art practice. It attracted over 1000 reads on her website and was later published in the book ‘Plasticity of the Planet: On Environmental Challenge for At and Its Institutions (2019 and featured on the on the Australian initiated website: The Institute for Interdisciplinary Research into the Anthropocene (IIRA), Feb 10, 2020

‘Nature’ is historically one our most contested words. In our everyday world where understanding of the living world is poor, ‘Environment’ and ‘Ecology’ are used interchangeably but mean very different things. We often think ‘Sustainability’, ‘Sustainable Development’, ‘Resilience’ are what’s needed but these terms are commonly entangled with ideas of endless economic growth (impossible on a finite planet), neo-liberal politics, and suggest ‘adaptation’ is preferable than working to minimise climate change and species loss. Some in the arts maybe aware of the Anthropocene but fail to appreciate major new concepts like the Symbiocene. This and other concepts, evolving in ecophilosophy and ecopsychology fields reveal new frames to envision how we can live well with the Earth and its other inhabitants in perpetuity.

Thus, care is needed in writing cultural policy, designing art programmes and opportunities for creatives workers.

Cathy’s advanced ecoliteracy and academic knowledge of environmental art, art and science, ecological art practice, ecocriticism, eco-philosophy, environmental ethics, can assist you in developing leading research and written articles, and design effective calls for exhibitions, art programmes and projects that aim to effectively address eco-social issues.

Cathy was invited to contribute to the US Minding Nature print and online journal in 2019.

Expertise for designing Eco-Social Art-Led Community Programmes:

Cathy also offers advice and writing on clear and accessible theory-method frameworks to guide art-workers or art-managers on how to develop successful long-term art-led community programmes that address urgent eco-social issues.

Increasingly art-led eco-social art programmes, led by local artists who accrue deep ecological knowledge of their place, who build relationships with community and local scientific, environmental and traditional knowledge holders, local educators and others, will be valued to engage communities to live well within rural or urban areas.

Due to the ecological emergency, Cathy predicts there will be an unavoidable shift in the creative sector to prioritise embedded-in-place, eco-social art activity over years, over the production of ‘new work’ as currently prioritised by many Art Councils. Harnessing the creativity of communities to safeguard their places, will be an urgent and community building response to the environmental catastrophe. Correspondingly, it will be essential to support creatives, who over years, amass valuable ecoliteracy (ecological knowledge) of their places. Perhaps a model will develop to value long-term creative residencies and thus support those art practitioners who develop rich ‘ecologies of practice (deeper relations between communities and their places)’ over the current emphasis of bringing outside artists to areas for short periods. Short residencies, at present, only allow superficial examination of ecological systems and do not foster deep community awareness for place. In some ways, as other researchers have noted, creatives working for places and community will have roles akin to those in Indigenous cultures, who reminded their communities of the beauty and preciousness of the environment through traditional creative activity.

In her home area, Cathy advises and supports local Carlow-based artists on the successful eco-social framework for the Creative Ireland Carlow Drummin bog school art programme (2019) see here. Cathy will be writing a significant document for future art activity for the area surrounding Carlow Drummin Bog following a significant Creative Ireland Award (2020-21).

Art & Sustainability Cultural Policy Research Expertise:

Cathy was awarded a Carlow Arts Office Award in 2016 to develop a research study on the absence of art and sustainability policy in Carlow, and which soon became a review of the lack of policy, strategy and educational and financial supports for the Irish arts sector as a whole.

Her report and online summary can be seen here.

Cathy was asked to present this research by Professors Karen Till, Gerry Kearns, Geography Dept, Maynooth University for the 50th Conference of Irish Geographers in May 2018 and lead a workshop on the topic ‘Raising the Shining, Reflective Shield’: the urgent need for cultural policy to engage Irish civil society toward eco-social well-being (Fitzgerald, 2018).

From Left: Prof Karen Till, Prof Gerry Kearns, Cultural Geography, Maynooth University, Dr. Nessa Cronin, Irish Studies, NUIG, Dr. Iain Biggs, Bath Univ, UK and Dr. Cathy Fitzgerald, Moore Institute, NUIG, June 2019.
From Left: Prof Karen Till, Prof Gerry Kearns, Cultural Geography, Maynooth University, Dr. Nessa Cronin, Irish Studies, NUIG, Dr. Iain Biggs, Bath Univ, UK and Dr. Cathy Fitzgerald, Moore Institute, NUIG, June 2019.

‘Raising the Shining, Reflective Shield’: the urgent need for cultural policy to engage Irish civil society toward eco-social well-being (Fitzgerald, 2019, Galway Moore Institute).

In June 2019, Dr. Nessa Cronin, Irish Studies, National University of Galway, asked Cathy to present a talk about her own eco-social art practice gave her growing awareness that Ireland’s art sectors requires art and sustainability policy and supports (see audiovisual slideshow here).

In this presentation, she led a conversation with local Galway art practitioners and academics ahead of the 7th EUGeo Conference, with support from her PhD supervisor Dr. Iain Biggs, Bath University UK, Research Centre for Environmental Humanities Fellow and Professors Karen Till and Gerry Kearns.

Screenshot 2018-08-11 09.04.11

Cathy Fitzgerald (PhD by Creative Practice) is a successful eco-social artist researcher and recovering scientist. This makes her uniquely placed to guide other creative people toward the most urgent topic in contemporary art today – how can we effectively employ creativity to inspire societal change in our audiences for the better world we know is possible.

Learn with Cathy to understand why ecoliteracy can help you navigate confusing environmental science so you too can employ creativity confidently to respond to the eco-social issues that matter to you. By the end of the course you will have deep insight as to what knowledge, skills and aptitude are needed to develop inclusive ecological art practices that can inspire lasting change for you, your place and community.