Intentional Communities, small groups of people living together cooperatively, are living laboratories for developing new models of better living in today’s societal structure. Idealistic people are finding social, economic, ecological, and sustainable solutions for many of the problems of today’s world, not by new government programs, but by learning various skills of harmonious living. Though somewhat “ignored” by the mass media, there are thousands of new communities–co-housing, eco-villages, spiritual communities, egalitarian communities, and other types. Many of these intentional communities have been in existence for more than one generation.
At Ananda College, students study the various types of intentional communities (both nationally and internationally) in existence, receive training in the use of consensus decision-making, meeting facilitation skills, issues of planning and development for starting new communities, the history of communities, internal dynamics of communities, alternative cultures of intentional communities, governance, ethical business and supportive leadership principles, positive psychology, cooperative philosophies and much more, all woven throughout the fabric of a dynamic academic and experiential curriculum. In addition, students live in a unique residential “college cooperative community” where they get to experience their own intentional community–complete with cooperative living, planning, stewardship of organic gardens & orchards and the co-creation of an on-campus Eco Village. In addition to classes offered in the current catalog, new courses are offered each year in this focus area. Specific internships are also offered, depending on the student’s area of focus.
Students in this concentration can be guided towards developing their own community both domestically or internationally, creating research and documentation for a portfolio, or developing and maintaining businesses for intentional communities. College study abroad trips offer the opportunity to have fellowship and exchange with a variety of cooperative communities worldwide in venues like India, Italy, France, Canada, and South America and throughout the US.
Cooperative Communities & Sustainability is available as an area of focus for the A.A. or B.A. degree, or as a 1-year Certificate. The A.A. degree is meant as a 2-year program, the B.A. degree as a 4-year program, and the Certificate as a 1-year program. In the degree programs, students need to complete the core curriculum requirements necessary for a “Living Wisdom Studies Degree in Cooperative Communities & Sustainability” at either the A.A. or B.A. level. At each degree level, the student will perform practical and experiential research necessary for the degree requirements. The Certificate in Cooperative Communities & Sustainability involves taking fewer classes, and does not provide the depth of academic and practical experience that the two degree programs offer.
Students studying Cooperative Communities and Sustainability will have the opportunity to approach environmental and human challenges from a broad perspective. Issues of renewable energy, alternative shelter, earth-friendly food production, and various gardening modalities will be studied in relation to the principles of cooperative living and the small-communities solution.
Students live with faculty, residents and guests in a small inter-generational community on campus where all meals are organic, vegetarian or vegan, and there is the option of attending twice-daily yoga and meditation. From an experiential perspective, students help create and sustain the college’s own gardens, buildings and grounds. Everyone shares in weekly kitchen duties, cooking vegetarian meals, gardening, and caring for the community, including living simply, recycling and composting, car-pooling, maintenance of the buildings and grounds, and much more.