About the Program
What Is Ecopsychology?
Ecopsychology is an emerging field that is developing in recognition that human health, identity, and sanity are intimately linked to the health of the earth and must include sustainable and mutually enhancing relationships between humans and the nonhuman world.
Ecopsychology places human psychology in an ecological context, and is aimed at healing the divisions between mind and nature, humans and earth. The central concern of ecopsychology is the physical, psychological, and spiritual health of both the human and nonhuman world and an understanding of the psychological processes that either bond us to the natural world or alienate us from it.
Ecology is the study of connection, of the interrelationships among all forms of life, and the physical environment. Psychology is the study of the human psyche, of the human mind and soul as it perceives, feels, thinks, and acts. Ecopsychology brings psychology and ecology together to create a healing context for and new understanding of the human-nature relationship.
Read Ecopsychology’s Niche: Why the Transpersonal Matters to Ecopsychology, an article by Naropa’s John Davis, PhD.
Areas of interest to ecopsychologists include effective environmental education and action, ecotherapy, the healing and initiatory influences of encounters with “wild” nature, development of the “ecological” self, creating healthy alternatives to materialism and consumerism, earth-based spiritual practices, and education for a just and sustainable future.
Multidisciplinary & Multicultural Approach
Transpersonal ecopsychologists recognize the essential role of multidisciplinary studies. Practitioners may explore religion, anthropology, ecology, physics, and other fields for a fuller understanding of the human being.
Similarly, transpersonal psychology is, at its roots, strongly intercultural. It recognizes the universality of the deeper dimensions of human experience while valuing the diversity of its expressions; it integrates insights on human nature and healing from a wide variety of cultures; and it recognizes the role of cultural context in the experience of individuals and groups.
The Ecopsychology program values diversity in its student body and faculty and includes explorations of diversity throughout its courses. It seeks to prepare students for engagement with a diverse and multicultural world.
Contemplative practices such as meditation and other awareness practices, as well as body disciplines such as yoga, facilitate a person’s ability to be fully present with whatever is going on in the moment.
Much of the time we see the world through the prism of our projections, attitudes and opinions so that we cannot see clearly. We are distracted by thoughts about what has already happened or lost in the possibilities that have not yet occurred. Either way, we miss the boat.
Any activity, whether it is our profession or our social interaction, is going to benefit and be enriched by our full presence, rather than our distracted being.
To quote William James, the well-known Harvard psychologist at the turn of the century, “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character and will. An education which should improve this faculty would be education par excellence.”
As with other Naropa University degree programs, the MA in Ecopsychology integrates meditation and awareness practices into the learning process. Such contemplative practices are at the core of ecopsychology. They provide the foundation for understanding, which is grounded in experience, and for more effective and compassionate application of ecopsychology.
Students will learn and practice meditation during the two summer intensives as well as through online course work with close supervision. Meditation practice courses are required in the first year of the program and may be included in a student’s electives. Naropa’s contemplative approach is found not only in meditation instruction and practice but throughout the program. The willingness to be in touch with one’s present awareness with friendliness and curiosity is at the root of such a contemplative approach.
The low-residency Master of Arts in Ecopsychology program is based on the integration of personal and transpersonal growth, contemplative practice, critical intellect, and service. These values are furthered by our emphasis on community, diversity and inclusivity. The Ecopsychology program offers Naropa’s approach to contemplative education and engagement with inner development and the world to a geographically diverse, international population of students. It seeks to expand contemplative education through the online medium.
These core values are the foundation of the program’s goals. Students will:
- demonstrate expertise in the concepts, themes, practices, theory, methods, history, and current issues of transpersonal ecopsychology.
- apply and expand their understanding of transpersonal ecopsychology through service and intellectual contributions.
- demonstrate understanding and respect for service, intellectual rigor, and engaged action as essential in transpersonal ecopsychology.
- demonstrate a personal, ongoing, and deepening relationship with transpersonal and contemplative practices and an integration of these practices in their lives and academic work.
- demonstrate qualities of openness to experience, appreciation for difference and diversity, and compassionate communication with peers and faculty.
- demonstrate maturity and openness in regard to diversity, inclusivity, and pluralism, appreciating and integrating perspectives of difference and unity. This growing maturity and openness is the basis for community and leadership within the program, in service-learning placements and in the world.