San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Author to Discuss Sustainability, Gaia Theory

“Costa Rica has an unrivalled and privileged opportunity to address today’s global challenges by guiding its people and, potentially, those of its neighbours, in finding a sustainable way forward beyond the cliché of mere words.”

This, according to the Animate Earth Initiative, is the dynamic needed to address today’s environmental, social and cultural crises. The initiative has organized a series of events to bring people together to find new ways in which fundamental change can be introduced creatively and effectively.

Among the events is a two-day seminar entitled “Animate Earth – A Sustainable Way Forward for Costa Rica and the Region” sponsored by the British Embassy in San José.

“Sustainable development is a foreign policy priority for the United Kingdom,” said British Ambassador to Costa Rica Tom Kennedy, who is scheduled to make the opening remarks at the invitation-only seminar May 8-9.

Principal speaker is ecologist Stephan Harding, coordinator of the Holistic Studies master’s program at SchumacherCollege in the United Kingdom. Harding will discuss reducing environmental damage through the pioneering concept of Gaia Theory.

Gaia Theory is relatively little known beyond the community of deep ecologists, but Harding, author of the book “Animate Earth,” which explains Gaia, asserts it is “perhaps the most important idea for the 21st century.

“Gaia helps us find our rightful place on Earth, not as its masters or stewards, but as plain members of the great community of life,” he said.

Renowned atmospheric chemist James Lovelock developed the theory in the 1960s and ‘70s. Put simply, Lovelock sees Earth as a great spherical living creature that has kept its surface habitable over thousands of millions of years thanks to self-regulating relationships between rocks, atmosphere, water and living beings.

Harding is also scheduled to speak at a public event May 10 at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), in San Pedro east of San José. Sponsor Pedro León, director of the NationalCenter for High Technology (CENAT), invites the public to find out more about Harding’s innovative ideas at the free conference, which will feature a question-and-answer session and begins at 1:30 p.m. For information contact Glenda Hernández at 290-3325, ext. 3340, or e-mail

A five-day retreat entitled “Animate Earth,” also conducted by Harding, is scheduled for May 13-18 at Poás Volcano Lodge, in Vara Blanca in the mountains north of San José. A maximum of 15 participants will be allowed, and the cost is $300 per person, including room and board. Following the SchumacherCollege philosophy, participants will share rooms, and help with meal preparation and housekeeping. For information contact Michael Cannon at 482-2194, or e-mail

Harding, also a former ecology professor at Costa Rica’s National University (UNA), in Heredia north of San José, and others hope to eventually see a branch of SchumacherCollege in Costa Rica.

Founded in Devon, England, in 1991, the college attracts students from all over and teaches a new vision for society and its relationship to the Earth. Course titles include, “Life After Oil – Breaking the Habit,” “Climate Change – Seeing the Whole Picture,” and “Indigenous Peoples and the Natural World.”

Vicky Longland, a longtime resident of Costa Rica and a regular contributor to The Tico Times, is helping organize the seminar and course.


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