What is Ecopsychology?

The Coalition will host two programs exploring Ecopsychology – a half-day introductory workshop Saturday, April 26, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; and a 5-week course on Thursdays, May 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, 5:45 to 7 p.m. Ecopsychology: Exploring the Complex Relationship between Nature and Human Nature will be conducted by Lori Pye, Ph.D. at the Resource Center, 206 N. Signal St. Suite S, Ojai.

A special thank you to Events Committee Chair, Anca Colbert, for her countless contribution of hours in the development and marketing, and a shout out to Bret Bradigan for the complimentary posting in the Ojai Quarterly.


If you are like me, you had never heard of Ecopsychology before the Coalition decided to host the upcoming April 26 workshop and May course. So I did a little research and then sat down with Dr. Lori Pye to educate myself and share with other OVGC members.

The term Ecopsychology was first used by Guggenheim Fellow Theodore Roszak, (who coined the phrase “counterculture” as well) in his book The Voice of the Earth. According to Roszak, the contemporary ecological translation of the term might be: the needs of the planet are the needs of the person; the rights of the person are the rights of the planet.

One of the first questions I asked Dr. Pye was what led her to become an ecopsychologist. She told me she was working on a boat in Costa Rica as a marine biologist when she began synthesizing the field of psychology and environmentalism. Later as a professor at the University of California Santa Barbara and at her own Institute for Cultural Change, Dr. Pye began formalizing the underpinnings of the growing field of Ecopsychology.

Dr. Pye was one of the first to begin teaching courses in Ecopsychology in 2007. In 2011 she established a formal Masters program of study at the Viridis Graduate Institute. Classes in Ecopsychology are now taught at Oberlin College, Lewis & Clark College and the University of Wisconsin, among other institutions.

Dr. Pye says her graduate students come from backgrounds as diverse as business, management, art, and economics as well as traditional educational background in psychology. Her only pre-requisite is a Bachelors Degree.

“We are not the most prevalent species but we are the most forceful on the planet,” said Dr. Pye explaining her motivation to teach. “And there is something different about that. We have impacted every habitat on this planet... there is a huge responsibility because of that.”

According to Dr. Pye, workshop students will look at themselves as part of the natural world... not apart or above it all. “One of the things I hear a lot from my students, undergraduates to 80-year-olds, is that they don’t understand their role in their family, in their workplace, in their community,” said Dr. Pye. “Or, they don’t feel they have a role in these places. The one thing I hope people go away with from the workshop is to gain an understanding of their role as a human being on this planet. I hope that it will trickle down into helping them find their role in their family and in their community. Another thing would be to have a different understanding of your own ecosystem. What does it mean to be an ecosystem; an ecosystem surrounded by a world of other ecosystems. It’s about relationships… what’s visible and what may not be visible.”

Dr. Pye is a fascinating thinker, who is donating her time and knowledge to benefit the Coalition and the community. Don’t miss the chance to meet her; it could change your life. Sign-up now.

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