Frequently Asked Questions
What is CES?
CES is a center for advancing new ideas and new ways of living for an ecozoic (ecological-cultural) age, through publications, education, events, art and action.
What is its logo?
What is the vision of CES?
CES’s vision is of a viable (peaceful, just, and sustainable) human future in a flourishing Earth community.
What is the legal status of CES?
CES is a nonprofit corporation organized under the laws of North Carolina. It is a tax-exempt, publicly supported organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code. It was formerly known as the Center for Ecozoic Studies.
What are the tasks of CES?
- To provide education concerning the “Ecozoic Era” and the “Great Work,” so that these terms and their meanings may become part of the global lexicon;
- To support research, education, art and action concerning ecozoic societies;
- To assist in the sharing of critical reflections, stories and dream experiences of an Ecozoic era;
- To provide resources for individuals and groups engaged in the Great Work.
What is 'Ecozoic'?
“Ecozoic” means “house of life.” The term, coined by Thomas Berry, comes from two Greek words—oikos meaning house, and zoikos meaning of animals (zoikos is based on the Greek word zoion meaning living being). A more complex meaning is that for the first time in human history we are living in the end of a geo-biological era as human impact is bringing to an end the current Cenozoic era. The Ecozoic era represents the promise that the succeeding era will be one of mutually enhancing relations among humans and the larger community of life.
What is the Great Work?
The Great Work is to move on from a terminal Cenozoic era to an emerging Ecozoic era in the history of the planet Earth. It is a task exceeding in its complexity all great works offered to humankind.
What are ecozoic societies?
“Ecozoic societies” are “societies of life.” If it is true, that the ecological footprint of humanity exceeds the carrying capacity of Earth by 50%, humans are emitting greenhouse gases at a rate that will result in rapid global warming, oceans are in a critical state, and other Earth systems are degraded, then a fundamental decision facing humanity is whether to live in societies of life or societies that lead increasingly to death. Building blocks of ecozoic societies include the new story of an integral, evolutionary Earth community, bioregionalism, and ecological spirituality.
What is the premise of the work of CES?
The premise of the work of CES is that we are in the midst of two great transitions: (i) a geo-biological change from the terminal Cenozoic Era to the emerging Ecozoic Era, and (ii) a historical change from industrial-economic societies to ecological-cultural (ecozoic) societies. This premise creates a need to understand these transitions, advance paradigms for new modes of human presence on Earth, support people in their journeys to the ecozoic, and take action to foster ecozoic societies.
What are the root problems CES seeks to address?
The root problems CES seeks to address are inadequate understandings of
- The nature of the world in which we live — the world is not a collection of objects, rather it is a co-evolving, interdependent communion of subjects;
- The meaning of our times — humans are undergoing the third major transition in the history of civilization, first agricultural, then industrial (industrial-economic), and now ecological (ecological-cultural) civilization;
- The vision of the future — there is a need for a new vision of what human development is about, which draws on new and old understandings of an interconnected, “living/sentient” Earth community and an ethics of empathy, respect and care for mutually enhancing human-human and human-Earth relationships;
- Life-giving options for the future — this vision of human development must be translated into new frameworks and practices at individual, community, and institutional/policy levels.
What is the purpose of CES?
To serve as a center and forum for the development of analyses, concepts and applications needed for the transition from economic-industrial societies to ecological-cultural societies for the purposes of environmental sustainability, ending poverty in all its forms, equity, diversity, full human development, and care for the entire community of life. We serve individuals and organizations who are oriented to the discovery, recovery and realization of values needed for an ecozoic (ecological-cultural) age.
What is CES's mission statement?
The mission of CES is to advance new ideas and new ways of living for an ecozoic (ecological-cultural) age, through publications, education, events, arts, and action. CES emphasizes critical reflection, story and shared dream experience as ways of enabling the creative advance needed to bring into being a new mode of human civilizational presence, and also of discerning the practical steps leading to the Ecozoic. CES understands the universe as meaningful, continuously evolving, and relational. In such a universe, the Ecozoic is not something to be arrived at, but something ever to be created. Its hallmarks are inclusiveness, interdependence, and appreciation; communion, differentiation, and subjectivity; and sensitivity, adaptability, and responsibility. It involves more just and cooperative relationships among humans, as well as transformed relationships of humans with the larger community of life.
What is the relation of CES and Thomas Berry?
CES was inspired by the work of Thomas Berry and continues to be influenced by his teachings. We believe that Berry identified critical issues in the transition to ecozoic societies and provided foundational guidelines for this transition. One area of CES’s work is the study, teaching and further development of Berry’s ideas.
What is CES's orientation to Berry's work?
CES concentrates on Berry’s historical analysis and his guidance on cultural reform and transformation of society in the context of a change of geo-biological eras in Earth’s history and the need to establish new modes of human civilizational presence. Here are other emphases in relation to Thomas Berry: CES
- understands “the universe is a communion of subjects not a collection of objects” as the key concept in Berry’s work and interprets this through process-relational philosophies,
- gives equal weight to Berry’s critique of science and his understanding of science as a new mystique and way of being comprehensively present to the community of life,
- gives equal weight to Berry’s statements that ecology is a functional cosmology and the universe story is a functional cosmology,
- regards Berry as a seminal thinker whose work, as a primary source, needs continuing study, teaching, further development and application,
- calls for students of Berry to
- give attention to Berry’s work as a primary source,
- situate Berry’s work within broader intellectual and social currents and context;
- review his ideas critically,
- assess his contributions to particular domains and establish conversations between Berry’s work and other fields or thinkers,
- analyze the contemporary relevance and potential applications of his work with attention to the need to address the complex dynamics, structures and collective impacts of the Anthropocene, and
- develop further his key concepts concerning the main elements of the transition(s)
- is concerned about the history and development of Berry’s work.
Who is the audience of the work of CES?
- People involved in action concerning transition to ecozoic societies who seek information, ideas, inspiration and support;
- People who have intimate connections with nature who seek to deepen and express this connection;
- People who seek a vision of a viable future and insight into effective social change; and
- Children, youth and young adults who need new understandings and stories that address their time in history.
What is the primary work of CES?
CES’s primary work is to bring people to knowledgeable awareness that we live in a single sacred community of life bound together in interdependent, intersubjective, evolving relationships and that the preservation and enhancement of the comprehensive community of life is necessary for the survival of and flourishing of any part of it, including the human community. We are in the planetary phase of human development.
What particular things does CES do?
- publishes a print journal titled The Ecozoic: Reflections on Life in an Ecological-Cultural Age;
- publishes an online magazine, CES Monthly Musings: Chronicling the Transition from Economic-Industrial to Ecological-Cultural Societies;
- maintains a website offering resources for members and others seeking insight into the ecozoic;
- sponsors educational programs and events concerning the ecozoic;
- provides leadership in the transition to ecological civilization in alliance with other networks within and outside the United States;
- promotes process-relational philosophies;
- engages in the development of Earth jurisprudence;
- supports the growth and development of individuals and groups toward the Ecozoic;
- provides services to its members; and
- works with other kindred groups on the transition to the ecozoic.
On what long-term projects is CES working?
- Working with various other networks on the theoretical and practical foundations of ecological civilization;
- Holding ecological civilization conferences in various regions;
- Supporting multi-year scholar projects in various regions on a vision and pathway to ecological civilization;
- Advocating for ethical structures of governance including an International Ethics Panel for Ecological Civilization;
- Developing an educational program on key ideas related to the transition to the ecozoic that can be widely taught in 1-2 day formats and online.
- Advancing the ideas and teachings of Thomas Berry and process-relational philosophies;
- Working on Earth Jurisprudence and the Rights of Nature
Where is transformational leadership needed?
The following were identified as areas where transformational leadership is needed in books by David Orr* and D. Paul Schafer**:
- creating a new theoretical, practical, historical and philosophical framework for the world of the future (with an emphasis on the importance of the cultural dimension of life and of strengthening this dimension);
- dealing with the intimate relationship between people and the natural environment;
- providing uncommon clarity about our best economic and energy options;
- helping people understand and face what will be increasingly difficult circumstances; and
- fostering a vision of a humane and decent future.
This list gives focus to the projects and teachings of CES.
*David Orr, Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse (New York, Oxford University Press, 2009).
**D. Paul Schafer, Revolution or Renaissance: Making the Transition from an Economic Age to a Cultural Age (Ottawa, Quebec: Ottawa University Press, 2008).
What are some of the background sources for the work of CES?
- The two-page document on “Thomas Berry’s Key Ideas” provides a broad summary of the ideas that are being developed and applied by CES.
- The paper published by CES on “Thomas Berry’s Great Work.”
- CES’s “Twelve Understandings of the Ecozoic” provides key themes for CES’s work.
- In general, the Foundational Statements and Foundational Essays of CES
- Thomas Berry’s ideas (see The Dream of the Earth, The Great Work and The Universe Story);
- Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy (see Science and the Modern World, Modes of Thought, Process and Reality, and Adventures of Ideas. For an introduction, see Robert Mesle, Process-Relational Philosophy: An Introduction to Alfred North Whitehead);
- E. Maynard Adam’s realistic humanism (see A Society Fit for Human Beings);
- Edward Goldsmith’s ecological worldview (see The Way: An Ecological World-View);
- D. Paul Schafer’s ideas on the transition from an economic to a cultural age (see Revolution or Renaissance: Making the Transition from an Economic Age to a Cultural Age and The Age of Culture);
- David Orr’s ideas of transformational leadership in Down to the Wire, Wolfgang Sachs ideas in Planet Dialectics, Fair Future and The Jo-Burg Memo; and
- The Earth Charter.