Earth Charter and the Pacifica Graduate Institute

On 25 January, an event entitled “One Earth Community, One Common Destiny” was organized by the Ecopsychology Network of Southern California and the Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, Ecopsychology specialization (CLE) of the Depth Psychology M.A./Ph.D. Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute. At the event ECI Executive Director Mirian Vilela offered a talk on “The Earth Charter Setting the Course”, in which she reflected on the quest for building a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world, and the Earth Charter’s contribution to the new way forward.

The occasion also included a presentation by Prof. Mary Watkins on The Four Principles of the Earth Charter as a Guide to Vocations for the Psychologically-Minded, who linked the Earth Charter to vocational work undertaken by their students that fosters respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, and, democracy, nonviolence, and peace.

Pacifica Faculty member Linda Buzzell shared with participants the way she sees ecopsychology as a guide to a deep understanding, that humans are embedded in a living Earth and share life support systems and souls. She reflected on how she perceives permaculture offering three foundational ethics — Earth Care, People Care and “Fair Shares” — and, with the Earth Charter’s four principles, these healthy roots can offer the practical, psychological, and spiritual grounding needed to create and move to the world we all want to live in.

The afternoon discussions were facilitated by Prof. Ed Casey, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at State University of New York, Stony Brook and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Pacifica in the CLE Program. 

The afternoon offered an occasion for an interesting discussion with a group of very active and engaged participants. The discussion circled around questions such as “how can we best facilitate our transition from an earth-destroying society to a life-sustaining culture?”

On 27 January, Ms. Vilela was a guest speaker to a group of students from the MA/PhD Depth Psychology Programme sharing a talk on “The Earth Charter and the Search for Humanity´s Shared Values”.

Here you can see a couple of video interviews that Ms. Vilela offered to current Pacifica doctoral candidate Marialidia Marcotulli.


A bit of history of the connection between Pacifica and the Earth Charter

The Chancellor of Pacifica Graduate Institute, Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., was involved in the early stages of the Earth Charter consultations back in 1994 and 1995, and there is an interest in establishing closer collaboration between Pacifica and Earth Charter International.

In 1994, one of Pacifica’s students, Angela Harkavy, was involved in the formulation of the draft of the Earth Charter, and as a result Dr. Stephen Aizenstat was invited to be a participant in the Earth Charter International Workshop held in The Hague in 1995.

During the workshop, Dr. Aizenstat advocated the inclusion of psychological considerations in the Earth Charter. Posing the question, “What is being asked of us now?,” Dr. Aizenstat responded with the following goal for the Earth Charter Initiative.

“In order to build a respectful and sustaining relationship with the world, we must first recover a sensibility that is informed by the psyche of nature, an awareness That our essential psychological spontaneities are rooted most deeply in the psyche of the natural world. We are born out of the rhythms of nature and to destroy nature’s psyche is, ultimately, to end our own. The responsibility of all who are involved in the Earth Charter Project is advocacy on behalf of the world and all who share it.”

Since that time, Dr. Aizenstat and others of the Pacifica community have endeavored to support the Earth Charter Movement in various ways, and the importance of the Earth Charter has often been a principal topic in community discussions.  In January of 1998, the Pacifica students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends were invited to consider and respond to “The Earth Charter Benchmark Draft” which was reviewed during the Rio+5 Forum in March 1997. Numerous individual praised the efforts of the committee and sent along their encouragement and support for the ongoing work.