Ecological Design Certificate



Integrating Human Needs With Nature


Students, Career-Changers, Knowledge-Seekers:

Fall 2018 EDCP – August 27 – December 7, 2018

Apply Online by April 1, 2018


Check out our Blog for news about the Fall 2017 journey in Ecological Design and upcoming news on the Spring 2018 cohort!

Learning is Limitless

Are you committed to making positive change in our world? Do you believe that design and nature can provide answers to the problems of the 21st century? Then our certificate program in ecological design may be for YOU!

Ecosa’s learning environment is designed to be rich, stimulating and cross-disciplinary and our program has been a life and career-changing experience for many. Its value to students, alumni, supporters and the world is immense – just look at what our alumni are accomplishing!  Ecosa can help you see the world through an ecological lens and open your mind to new possibilities in sustainable and regenerative actions.

At Ecosa, your learning is limitless. You will learn to think like a designer, unleash your creativity, explore systems thinking and develop real-world solutions to local and global issues. You’ll go beyond conventional design thinking and learn to use nature as the model for everything you do. And you’ll learn as a team through hands-on design projects with real-world clients.

What Makes Our Program Stand Out?

Listen as Ecosa Institute’s Founder & Program Director, Antony Brown, describes what makes our Ecological Design Certificate Program so unique.

Our Curriculum

The Ecosa Institute Ecological Design Certificate Program curriculum is an interweaving of “threads” to create a fabric that connects the patterns of knowledge that you discover throughout your time at Ecosa.

Learn More About Our Thread Weavers

Listen to one of our latest podcasts from Founder & Program Director, Antony Brown, as he talks about the role of our faculty “thread weavers” in delivering a leading edge curriculum.

Threads Woven Throughout Our Curriculum

Here are descriptions of the major themes or “threads” woven throughout our ecological design curriculum.

Ecological Design
This thread is a central element of our program that explores and identifies what you need in order to become an ecological designer. Student projects will help build skills while they examine the concept of harmonizing design and ecology in a way that acknowledges both nature and human culture. The ecological design certificate program will help students, even those new to design, to become aware of the power of design to make change.
Ecological Literacy
Nature will be an important client throughout the Ecological Design Certificate Program. This thread will lead you towards an experiential engagement with nature. You will explore local ecologies with an ecologist, and learn how to read a landscape to develop an awareness of how nature influences design. You will learn to assess sites for flows and resources and the potential for restoration or preservation. The use of permaculture as a nature-based food production system will be explored as a symbiotic approach to agriculture.
Technology and Skills
It is important to understand the new tools that exist or are being developed to help us learn about complex systems. You will review the latest data-based design methods, including occupancy monitoring, data management, energy modeling, and design software. Sketching and technical drawing will form an important element in the learning process. You will also learn about passive and active solar design, alternative materials, water harvesting and treatment, transportation, energy and building construction.
Communication Design
Communication with a client or the general public is essential to all design work, particularly if it is to be groundbreaking. This thread will help you to enhance your ability to think graphically and present complex information in a clear and coherent way. During the Ecological Design Certificate Program, you will discover how to use typography and imagery in your presentation style to communicate powerful messages to clients and other students. Over the course of the semester you will develop a high quality portfolio of your work that can serve as a record of your process and progress.
Art and Culture
Art has always been an important part of any culture. As a designer it is important to understand the place this takes in our modern world. Our Ecological Design Certificate program explores how art and design are affected by modern culture and new technology and examines both contemporary and historic design to find those answers. You will examine both contemporary and historic art as it influences design. You will learn how to speak the language of art and design to provide a cultural basis for critiquing your own work as well as that of others.
Community and Teambuilding
As humans have evolved we created communities that influenced how we see the world. These include communities interacting face-to-face as well as globally in today’s online world. Our Ecological Design Certificate program examines social, ethical and economic issues affecting communities and influencing design. You will be interacting on a daily basis with your student community to share experiences and ideas, and will naturally be part of a project team where your strengths and skills will be put to use.
Whole Systems Design
Our world is comprised of interconnected, complex adaptive systems of various scales and extents. Understanding these systems and the relationships within them is an integral aspect of design. During our Ecological Design Certificate Program you will explore ways to develop whole systems solutions to issues that traditionally are seen as separate problems; for example blending food production with human habitats while creating energy for urban environments. We will use dynamic systems thinking examples to provide working models and inspiration.
The program culminates in a presentation of both the client-based project and the students’ individual portfolios that demonstrate participation requirements and course accomplishments. Final assessment is based on the level of participation and portfolios demonstrating attainment of learning outcomes.

Field Trips

Field trips are a core part of the Ecosa Institute Ecological Design Certificate. We take field trips to spectacular historic and contemporary sites around the Southwest. These trips are integrated into the learning experience to provide a basis for discussion and to place sustainable design into a broader context. This on-site experience provides a different mode of learning to students that contrasts from in-class presentations and studio work, capitalizing on the reality that when one experiences something new spatially and viscerally, it informs design sense when one returns to the drawing board.

Depending on the semester, trips may include outings to archaeological sites in northern and southern Arizona, Native American communities, and local explorations in modern green buildings. There are usually 3 or 4 out-of-town field trips during each program.

A common first trip of the Ecological Design Certificate Program is the Wilderness Experience, often led by Cody Lundin of Aboriginal Living Skills Survival, depending on his schedule, and by others. This trip helps to create a sense of tribe among the learning cohort, in addition to learning about natural elements and living systems in a survival context.

One of the most anticipated trips is a multiple-day journey to southern Arizona, where students spend a full day with permaculture expert, rainwater harvester and author Brad Lancaster. Students tour co-housing communities, sustainable building projects and desert landscapes, as well as visit the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum and mission San Xavier del Bac.

Students often spend time at Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti project studying new approaches to urban design, and to contrast, stop at one of the largest new housing developments in Arizona to view a different approach to community.

Other common destinations for excursions are prominent architectural studios, Taliesin West and Cosanti, the Richard Meier Federal Building, the Phoenix Central Library by Will Bruder, the Nelson Fine Arts Center, and a number of Arizona national parks, monuments, and landmarks.

Student Testimonials

“A whole new perspective on the world! I have a clearer understanding of the systems at work in our society today and the greater implications of all the variables at hand. I have gained more awareness of the complexities of the global challenges facing us today and for the first time, I now feel empowered to be able to tackle these problems and come up with possible solutions. The course was definitely a catalyst for my life and has impacted choices in my daily life as well as my career. ”

“As an architecture student, my experience at Ecosa enriched my entire lifestyle by nurturing a more holistic approach to thinking and designing. I’m proud to say its the best experience I have had in education. The hands-on study/projects with real clients show how education should be, and all the guests were unbelievable.”

“Ecosa was an experience I’ll never forget. The other students, faculty, and projects ingrained in me a new, sustainable way of thinking about not only design, but how I live my everyday life. I am deeply grateful for this experience. My only regret is that I didn’t do it earlier.”

“Ecosa is a vision which has manifested in people. Resourceful connections, information flows, and teaching activities provide a backdrop for real-life projects which push the boundaries of ecological design. Ecosa is this backdrop. You guys have done it: jump-started a cohesive curriculum to address the real issues of life as a human through design. Furthermore, inspiration and insights you give to students for people (for us!) to live, as an integral part of ecology is invaluable! I know that I will treasure the gift, and carry it with me. Thank you for pushing dreams into reality!”

“Ecosa is a magical place, where everybody fits in, no one is excluded, and one way or another everyone enjoys themselves. Not to mention, the faculty is wonderfully supportive and engaging. I can’t put into words how much I have enjoyed this experience. I am at this moment flooded with a world of emotion, and the end of this semester is breaking my heart and simultaneously blowing my mind.”

“I think the most important thing I learned was to question my education and bias. Architecture education is taught with little reference to site, context, people, and the environment. Until coming to Ecosa it seemed like ‘the right thing to do’ was to concentrate on the aesthetic, rather than these more responsible issues. After participating in Ecosa I will critique my projects more rigorously for sustainable strategies. Another highpoint in the program was the ability to learn from a variety of people with different backgrounds and experience. This opened my eyes to many issues that I have not thought of before attending Ecosa.”

Join Us for the Program of a Lifetime!



FALL 2018: August 27 – December 7, 2018



Who should apply?

We encourage students of all ages, backgrounds, and interests to apply. We are looking for those students with the desire and commitment to learn the many facets and applications of ecological design, and for those who are a good “fit” with our program.

Because our students are varied in age, experience, and background, the EDCP offers a unique, diverse and inspiring learning environment. Most students have no previous design experience, but they have a willingness to learn.

So, whether you are a college student or recent graduate, or are considering an advanced degree, a career change or how to make a difference in the world, there is only one requirement for our program: COMMITMENT.

Ecosa Institute admits students of any color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression/identity, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or military status.

Application and Fees

The 15-week program is limited to 14 students; a minimum enrollment must be met.

To apply for Ecosa’s Ecological Design Certificate Program, fill out the application below and submit with your $50 application fee (due at time application is submitted; applications will not be considered until fee is paid). Be sure to include attachments that show us your creativity or design skills – this can take the form of written words, videos, photos, plans, music or whatever tells us about you.

Once the initial application and fee are received, you will be sent a questionnaire that serves as Part 2 of the application process.


Students are responsible for obtaining their own housing. Some of our students choose to live together, while others prefer to live independently. We can assist incoming students to explore possible sharing options with other Ecosa Institute students.

Our studio is located in the central part of Prescott and there are numerous housing options within walking or cycling distance of the studio. Prescott is home to three local colleges and many housing opportunities are available that are geared to students in the area.

Additional Costs

Studio work will require essential materials and supplies. Drafting and drawing supplies will cost $100-$200 depending on quality preference. Studio materials will cost $75 or less during the semester.

Our field trips do include camping, so basic camping equipment is required: (backpack, sleeping bag & pad, etc.) which you can also buy at a local store for $70 – $180. A list of required items will be supplied upon registration.

College Credit

If you are enrolled at an accredited institution you may be able to receive credit through that institution for Ecosa Institute programs. We often provide confirmation of enrollment for faculty members, academic advisors or the registrar at the home institutions of our students for credit awards. Please let us know at least two months prior to the start of the program if you require any documentation from us to receive credit.

CEU Credit

We offer CEU credits for our program!

Ecological Design Certificate Program standard hours of instruction as per Ecosa Institute Calendar and Syllabus = 6 hours per day x 5 days a week x 15 weeks = 450 hours minus 120 hours of studio time (which may or may not be instructional time) = 330 hours or 33 CEU credits (based on formula of 1 credit for 10 hours of instructional time).  CEU credits are awarded only for full participation and achievement of learning outcomes as presented in the course Syllabus.


Application Submissions

The online application will require submission of the following:

  • General information about you and your background
  • Something that persuades us that you are someone who will get a lot from our program, i.e. papers, movies, sketches, project plans, works of art – be creative! We are looking for students who are self-directed and not afraid to try new things, so be innovative and show us why Ecosa is a good fit for YOU! (download files on the application page or mail samples to the address below)
  • A $50.00 application fee, payable by Paypal or by check (payable to Ecosa Institute, 300 E Willis St., Suite G, Prescott, AZ 86301)

Please contact us for additional application information or with any questions about our programs.

Apply Now For the Experience of a Lifetime

“Thank you for creating this program – it was exactly what I needed at this point and I just hope so many more people get to experience Ecosa.”

“I am deeply grateful for this experience. My only regret is that I didn’t do it earlier.”


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