Ecopsychology Institute

This project has been completed

Directed by Sarah A. Conn, Ph.D.

Mission Statement: The Ecopsychology Institute’s mission is to explore the connection between human health and the health of the Earth, focusing on the development of mutually sustaining relationships within and among humans and the environment.
The Ecopsychology Institute has been working since 1987 to promote ecological consciousness and identity among professionals in a variety of diverse fields.

Ecopsychology is a field which recognizes that human sanity must include sustainable and mutually­-enhancing relations with the natural world as well as within the human community. Ecopsychology attempts to bridge psychology and ecology, to learn again to see the needs of the person and the needs of the earth as interrelated and interdependent.

“There is no such thing as ‘individual’ health separate from the systems within which the individual exists,” explains Sarah A. Conn, Ph.D., founder and director of the Ecopsychology Institute. (Pioneers of ecopsychology theory include David Abram, Sarah Conn, James Hillman, Joanna Macy, Bill Plotkin, Rosemary Randall, Laura Sewell, and Paul Shepard.)

One of the longest-standing programs of the organization, it began as semester course at Harvard for health care and related professionals. That course continues to this day, exploring health care theory and practice in the larger context, based on the notion that human health and the health of the Earth are inseparable – viewing “symptoms” as cultural and ecological “signals” and potential invitations to transform worldview and identity.

The work has grown to include training programs for professionals in other fields, including educators, architects, writers, environmental engineers and artists.

At a pilot training held at the Boston Society of Architects building in downtown Boston in June 2001, more than a dozen architects met for a day-long session during which the Institute trainers introduced the basic principles of ecopsychology and the levels of ecological intelligence. The participants then worked on synthesizing what they had learned and applying it to a case example. The basic teaching was summarized by one participant as, “learning to be part of the Earth that is being built upon, to learn to honor the land, to ask permission to modify it, to tune into its messages.”

“All of these professionals have been drawn to our work because of their concern for the Earth and their intuition that transformation of the human psyche is necessary for sustainable living in the future,” explains Dr. Conn.

“In the world we are facing today, with the degradation of both human and non-human natural systems, all professions are called to be oriented to health care, to include the health of the Earth in their work.”