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Contemplative Ecological Education


Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma (4 course program) towards the MEd Interdisciplinary




Four course topic delivered over Summer, Fall, and Winter terms


Graduate Program Administrator:
Stacy Gooliaff

Academic Coordinators:
Dr. Jackie Seidel

Dr. Janet Groen

Program Overview

Contemplative ecological education emerges in the intersections and integration of contemporary ecological and contemplative scholarship. This certificate focuses on ways that education (broadly defined) can respond to the existential urgency of this planetary moment by fostering life-sustaining and life-serving approaches to collective wellbeing for humans and the more-than-human world. The four courses are designed to enhance and expand ecological understandings/implications through engaging with contemplative practices and research that support integrated ways of living in the world that “takes seriously the web of associations and meanings arising from careful attention to this ecological reality” (Christie, 2013, p. 5).  Contemplative studies in education presence the work of learning, including reflexive and subjective experiences (both first and second person), with a critical lens towards the structures of inequality that are perpetuating violence and harm (including to the life-chances of other beings and ecosystems). Contemplative practices foster situational awareness and ethical grounding towards socially responsible actions including the courage to confront suffering and address injustices. The interdisciplinary intersection of contemplative and ecological studies supports interconnected, relational, creative, critical, and emergent ways of understanding and enacting educational work in both practical situations and scholarship.

Christie, D. (2013). The blue sapphire of the mind: Notes for a contemplative ecology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Program Details

Courses in this program are offered in a blended format. Consisting of our summer residency, and on campus experience held in Summer with online work completed before and/or after your time in Calgary. Fall, Winter, and Spring courses are typically held fully online through Desire2Learn and Zoom. For additional information regarding online delivery, refer to the eLearn website.

Program Goals

Students will leave this certificate program with a strong understanding of:

  • The underlying principles, deep engagement, and application in contemplative practices in ecological education
  • Discourses in a range of disciplines and their connections to contemplative ecology, including but not limited to: ecopsychology, eco-social justice, ecofeminism, ecopedagogy, deep ecology, etc.
  • Application of foundational and contemporary discourses in contemplative ecology to current education and learning contexts, curricular connections, challenges and strategies
  • Philosophical underpinnings, historical and current sacred/spiritual traditions of contemplative ecology and implications for eco-justice education; curricular connections, challenges and strategies
  • Multi-modal pathways of research, response, and/or engagement by scholars and practitioners engaged in contemplative ecological education
  • The application of a multi-modal pathway(s) to demonstrate deepening learning and engagement in an aspect (s) of contemplative ecology and education.

Target Audience:

In addition to potential applicants outlined below, this certificate will likely have considerable appeal to graduates of the following certificates: 

  1. Critical Approaches to Environmental Education,
  2. Indigenous Education: A Call to Action
  3. Mindfulness-Based Teaching and Learning (MBTL) -

*Particularly notable is the close alignment with the final certificate in this list, which is offered through a transfer agreement, by the University of the Fraser Valley. By fall 2022, approximately 90 students will have completed this UFV certificate. Many of these students intend to complete the Werklund Interdisciplinary M.Ed. This proposed certificate provides a deepening extension of the application of contemplative practices in education with a particular focus on ecological education.

Additional applicants in a range of formal and informal education settings include the following:

  • Early childhood, elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educators and administrators;
  • Non-profit and community-based professionals, educators, and administrators;
  • Professionals, educators, and administrators working with forest schools, camps, or outdoor and environmental centres
  • Professionals, educators, and administrators working for municipal, provincial, or federal organizations, parks, science centres, and zoos
  • Others with academic and/or professional interests in contemplative and mindful approaches to ecological, nature-based, and/or environmental education (this includes members of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, students who have taken the certificate in Ecopsychology through Pacifica University, students who have taken Dr. Andy Fisher’s ecopsychology training, students who have participated in the Contemplative Environmentalism workshop at the Lama foundation in New Mexico over the past 10 years, and those interested in nature-based therapy movements). 

A registration package will be sent to new students after they have been admitted. Registration for the summer term will be available in late winter. Fall and Winter registration opens in the spring. Your Graduate Program Administrator will send more information about registration to you.

Fee details are available through the University Calendar. An explanation of fees is available on the Faculty of Graduate Studies' website.

The University of Calgary offers multiple ways to meet the cost of your education. Please refer to the Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries page to learn more about options available to students. For additional information, please contact Student Financial Support.

Program Schedule & Course Descriptions

Summer Residency 2023

Summer classes run from Monday, June 26 - Tuesday, August 8, 2023.

Students are expected to be available for this period of time and able to complete online course work before and after the summer residency period. Further details will be available in the course outline.

On campus summer residency dates are Monday, July 10 - Friday, July 21, 2023.


Program Notes

The in-person component of EDER 693.30 will take place the first week of Summer Residency (July 10-14) and the in-person component of EDER 693.31 will take place the second week of Summer Residency (July 17-21).

Program begins each Summer term (refer to the Academic Schedule for specific dates)

Outlines are normally available 1-2 weeks prior to the start of term in D2L

3 units per course

Term 1 - Summer

Theories of Contemplative Ecology

This course introduces foundational and contemporary topics, issues, and scholars in contemplative ecological practices in educational research and practice.  Key ideas and topics:

  • Scholarship across a range of disciplines and connections to contemplative ecology, including but not limited to: eco-psychology, eco-social justice, ecofeminism, eco-criticism, deep ecology, etc.  
  • Application of foundational, historical, and contemporary discourses to current education and learning contexts; curricular connections, challenges and strategies
  • Ongoing introduction and application of contemplative practices in coursework (i.e. introduction to contemplative writing, arts-based inquiry, etc.)

Registration info:
EDER 693.30 L03 (1652)

Term 1 - Summer

Experiencing Contemplative Ecological Practices

This course is grounded in experiential land-based contemplative practices.  The contemplative nature of this course serves as the experiential foundation for the more theoretically oriented courses that follow. Key ideas and topics: 

  • Exploration of the underlying principles of contemplative practices
  • Exploration of how contemplative practices are animated and applied within the eco-disciplines.
  • Introduction to, experience of, and inquiry into contemplative ecological practices drawing on a range of historical and contemporary sacred/cultural/philosophical traditions
  • Introduction to, experience of, and inquiry into the dynamics of living in community, within a retreat setting, and its application into contemplative ecological practices. 

Registration info:
EDER 693.31 L04 (1653)

Term 2 - Fall

Contemplative Roots of Eco-Social Justice in Education

This course focuses on the deeper historical roots/traditions of contemplative ecology and the ways they might contribute to ecojustice education.  Key ideas and topics include:

  • Historical and current sacred/spiritual and secular scientific traditions, and their implications for eco-social justice education
  • Philosophical underpinnings and implications of eco-social justice education
  • Application of historical and philosophical discourses to current education and learning contexts; curricular connections, challenges and strategies
  • Ongoing introduction and application of contemplative practices in coursework
  • Anticipatory preparation for capstone project in concluding course. 

Registration info:
EDER 693.32 L03 (75189)

Term 3 - Winter

Capstone Project in Contemplative Ecological Education

This capstone course introduces a variety of established and emerging research approaches relevant to contemplative ecological education. Students will identify and pursue an inquiry into an area of interest within contemplative ecological education. Key ideas and topics:

  • Introduction to multi-modal pathways of research, response, and/or engagement by scholars and practitioners engaged in contemplative ecological education
  • Consideration of and selection of a pathway for deeper learning and engagement in a particularly meaningful aspect of contemplative ecology and education
  • Preparation and presentation of student learning and engagement – through a multi-modal pathway – in an aspect(s) of contemplative ecology and education

Registration info:
EDER 693.33 (15420)