Manish Jain
Ecoversities Rising
9 min readJul 16, 2018

15th July 2018

We would be most excited to have you join us for the The Third Global Gathering of the Ecoversities Alliance — Committed to Re-imagining Higher Education and Learning!

This is an invitation for you to gather together with 60–70 other higher education rebels, dreamers and visionaries from around the world in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. The Global Gathering will take place from the 8th (morning) until the 13th (evening) October, 2018. There is an optional learning journey which will visit 7 projects in the Indian Multiversities Alliance between October 15th until October 23rd — starting in Bangalore and ending in Auroville (you will need to book at separate flight from Udaipur to Bangalore on the 14th October). REGISTER HERE NOW.

As you are aware, there is an emerging constellation of eco-versities — people and communities reclaiming their local knowledge systems and learning practices to restore and re-envision learning processes that are meaningful and relevant to the call of our times, that cultivate new stories and possibilities, and that re-connect and re-generate diverse ecological, social, economic, and cultural ecosystems in the spirit of coming home.

Eco-versities is an emerging collective of individuals and communities from a variety of learning projects around the world. We organized a first gathering for a week in 2015 at Tamera eco-village in southern Portugal and in 2017 at Earth University in Costa Rica. During those gatherings, co-creators came from more than 30 countries to share wisdom, experiences, insights, burning questions and challenges, to learn together about how transformative learning is being imagined and enacted within each place we were coming from.

In between the Global Gathering, many of us have met up again through various encounters and collaborations in different parts of the world. We are calling for a third gathering here at Swaraj Unversity in October (2018) in an ‘un-conference’ format. Our primary focus is to bring together people who are running or who are deeply involved with ‘alternatives’ to higher education — working within, against, and beyond the modern university — as well as in locally-rooted learning spaces that are regenerating community and a sensibility of coming back home. Many of these places are connected with different grassroots, social and ecological movements, indigenous communities, and others.

There is a list of some invited higher education projects at the bottom of this invitation, projects that we have encountered or heard about that are advancing innovative ideas and practices centered on learning as an emancipatory praxis. Please feel free to connect us to more such projects that you know of.

A local working group is planning all the soul-stirring ingredients needed for our participation in this third gathering. The group is open to suggestions, reflections and proposals at any time. In addition, if anyone has an interest to become a participant in this group, you are most welcome and we encourage you to contact us.

This is what we are proposing during the gathering:

  • That we gather for 6 days to deepen our friendships, to learn from each other and to explore new collaborations. We ask that you come and participate for the whole time. Over the 6 days we will also have opportunities to learn from what Swaraj University and other members of the Indian Multiversities Alliance are doing and share our own practices.
  • That we bring to the gathering burning questions which are important to each of us through the projects and contexts we are involved in and which we would like to share with the group. For example there were many shared themes during last year’s gathering: sustainability and social justice; unlearning and decolonizing; indigenous ways of knowing; healing; gift culture and solidarity learning economies; re-engaging community, nature and the built environment; local media; literacies; the question of certification; mentoring; rites of passage; right livelihood and social/eco entrepreneurship, learning amidst conflict, among other topics.
  • That we bring forth such questions and experiments to co-generate an “un-conference”, a loose semi- structured process that leaves time for sharing and co-creating with self-organizing sessions and open-spaces. This will also allows us to experience and to continue to learn from different approaches and traditions of learning, gathering and facilitation. At the same time this process honours the learning that comes from emergence, as many of us experienced during the first two gatherings.
  • That we come with a view towards strengthening the global movement of re-imagining higher education and building collaborations across the ecoversities alliance. We will work together to plan/prepare for a grant proposal to continue to build this alliance and larger movement.

About the host location:

Swaraj University <> is a radical university started in Udaipur in 2010. Swaraj University offers a two-year self-designed learning program for 40 youth seekers (khojis) per year to explore self, social justice, social entrepreneurship and sustainable community living. It also hosts several short workshops throughout the year for more than 350 youth, adults, and unschooling families. Swaraj University supports many pedagogical experiments in unlearning, gift culture and living with nature. It is based on a 30 acre organic farm/ashram in a village 15 km outside of Udaipur city. There is a small lake nearby campus and lots of great hills to climb.

Udaipur is one of the most stunning cities in India with its lake views, palaces, artisanal crafts, and rich folklore. We will make time for some explorations into the old city. Swaraj University is affiliated to the Udaipur as a Learning City project, Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development <> and the Indian Multiversities Alliance <>.

Fateh Sagar Lake, Udaipur

Costs for the gathering:

The costs are being kept at a minimum and are met through a sliding scale ‘solidarity fund’ to nurture a solidarity economy where we can support a process of inclusion for all who wish to participate in this gathering. If you or your organization can pay more than the minimum, that would greatly help us meet the overall expenses on the ground in Udaipur.

We anticipate that participants will cover their travel expenses to and from Udaipur. We have raised some funds available to support partial travel scholarships to members of the Alliance (up to $600 per scholarship). Please write to us if you need support or if you can help raise additional funds to support international travel of other friends.

Accommodation and food:

Swaraj University has simple shared dormitory accomodation on campus. Tents can also be set up. The daily costs here are $20 for shared accommodation and food in the dining hall. There are private hotels (such as Amargarh Resort) and hostels between 3–8km away from campus for $50-$100 for individual rooms (if you opt for this, you will also have to bear daily costs of private taxis). The Swaraj University dining hall provides vegetarian/vegan breakfast, lunch and dinner. There will be space for cooking together also. There is no alcohol or drugs allowed on campus as we are situated in an ashram.


The closest international airport are in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Jaipur. There are several domestic flights, trains, private taxis and public buses to Udaipur.


As a way of starting earlier to get to know each other and fomenting questions and exchanges we are starting a monthly Eco-versities Learning Brunch online. We are planning to have these on the last Sunday of each month starting on the 26th of August at 8am Pacific time, 9am Costa Rica time, 4pm London time and 9:30pm India time. These meetings will be held on Zoom and to join click on the following link during the meeting time.

Next steps:

It would really help us if you could fill in some brief information on a form provided through this Registration link— please let us know if you are able to attend the event by the 1st of August.

We are really excited to be connecting with everyone in what we hope will be an inspiring and nourishing gathering.

With love -
Manish, Kelly, Udi, Gerardo, Ku, Alessandra

India Hosting Team: Manish, Deepak, Adil, Anita, Harsh, Nitin, Reva, Rahul, Abhishek, Vidhi

Manish Jain <Manish Jain> and Harsh Mittel <> will be the lead contact persons in Udaipur. Please email Harsh at XXX with any questions or comments.


Some of the Invited Organizations (NEED TO UPDATE)

Check out inspiring projects in the Ecoversities Film Festival

  • Australia

Yirrkala Centre and the Mulka Project (Arnhem Land, Northern Territories) —

Mawul Rom project (Darwin, Northern Territories) —

Oases —

  • Brazil

Escola Popular de Comunição Crítica (School of Critical Media, Rio de Janeiro) — ,

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes — (Landless Movement University outside São Paulo) —

  • Canada

Blackfoot Digital Library, Phenology Studies (Blackfoot Territory, Alberta) —

Freda Diesing Northwest School of Art (Terrace, British Columbia) — art

  • Chile/USA

Gaia University

  • Denmark

Kaos Pilots

  • Egypt

Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences

  • Germany

ThinkCamp —

  • Holland

Knowmads (Amsterdam)

  • India

Swaraj University (Udaipur) —

Lemon School of Entrepreneurship, Nagpur

Bhoomi College, Bangalore

Bija Vidyapeeth (School of the Seed) (Doon Valley) —

Barefoot College (Tilonia) —


Sadhana Forest University of Compassion,


  • Italy

Free Home University

  • Jordan


  • Mexico

Universidad de la Tierra (Oaxaca and Chiapas) —

Universidad del Medio Ambiente (UMA)

Instituto Superior Intercultural Ayuuk (ISIA)

Universidad Campesina Indigena en Red (UCI-RED)

CIET (Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Transmodernos)

Escuela Campesina de Educacion Popular y Alternativas Sustentables

  • New Zealand

Te Puia — Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (Rotorua, North Island) —

Te Wananga o Raukawa (Otaki, North Island) —

Orientation Aotearoa — (New Zealand) —

  • Pakistan

Institute for Development Studies Pakistan (IDSP) (Quetta) —

Habib University

  • Peru

PRATEC, Proyecto de Tecnologias Andinas (Project of Andean Technologies in Lima, Lamas and Cusco) — -

  • Portugal

Tamera Ecovillage

  • Romania

The Alternative University

  • Russia

School of Engaged Art (Russia)

  • Sweden

YIP (The International Youth Initiative)

  • Thailand

EcoVillage Transition Asia

International Network of Engaged Buddhists

  • Uganda

Mpambo University (Jinja)

Social Innovation Academy —

  • UK

Social Science Centre (Lincoln) —,

H3 University —

Findhorn College

Schumacher College (Totnes) —

Year in Transition University (Totnes)

Shift Bristol (Bristol)

  • USA

School of International Training (Vermont)

Goddard College

Mycelium (Asheville, North Carolina) —

Weaving Earth (Sonoma County, California)

Ubiquity University (California) —

Unitierra Califas (California)

California Institute of Integral Studies (California)

  • Zimbabwe

Kufunda Learning Village