Living Routes brings ecovillage discussion, opportunites to students

On March 4, Geneseo hosted a sustainability lecture featuring Daniel Greenberg, the founder and executive director of Living Routes.

Living Routes is an educational nonprofit organization that offers credit-bearing college programs based out of ecovillages around the world.

According to Greenberg, the human population has exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth. In order to ensure the future of the human race, he said, it is imperative that humans explore new clean energy solutions. He cited ecovillages as one possible solution.

Ecovillages are communities that model sustainable lifestyles and emphasize ecological, socio-economical and spiritual-cultural harmony. According to Greenberg, the communities stress a high-quality lifestyle that has low ecological impact.

"It's not just about sustainability," he said of ecovillages. "It's about a just sustainability. It's about dignity, agency and social justice… [These ecovillages] are living laboratories for a sustainable future."

Greenberg said that ecovillages are not self-sufficient but that they do act as regional catalysts in promoting sustainability awareness.

"Ecovillages are not utopias," Greenberg said. "Sustainable lifestyles are a process, not a product. Ecovillages have the potential to be a fulcrum for society to turn toward an ecologically sustainable future. They are a positive feedback loop … support[ing] a new emergence of sustainable consciousness."

Citing the progress of ecovillages in the U.K., India and the U.S., Greenberg said that in addition to ecological sustainability, ecovillages promote socially sustainable, communal living.

"Since the Industrial Age we've lost our sense of community," Greenberg said. "Community is in our bones and in our genes. Through ecovillages [and Living Routes] we can rediscover our sense of interconnection and belonging."

Living Routes, Greenberg's organization, offers students the opportunity to enroll in accredited programs in sustainability studies. Students can spend up to a semester in eco-villages around the world studying topics like sustainable development, permaculture and ecological design, habitat restoration, organic agriculture and many related topics. Students are also taught to reduce their carbon footprints, encourage relationships with local businesses and construct a community identity.

College credit for studying abroad through Living Routes is offered through the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Interested students can learn more online at the organization's website,