The Universe is our University

What it is:

Our School’s DIY PhD courses support planetary learners in clarifying what they want to learn, envisioning the life they want to cultivate, and deepening trust in themselves and their paths. After our Semester One and Two courses, participants continue learning in self-organizing cohorts or join our Dissertation Integration coworking and mentorship community.

We prioritize learning in our bodies, minds, spirits and emotions. We believe that our ideal educations are social and integrate all aspects of our lives.

Our Cohort 5 is now closed. Sign up here to hear first about our future offerings.

How It Started

In late August of 2013, David Whitaker and Sarita Doe had their sketchbooks open, surrounded by sunlight and succulents we had planted years prior when just beginning graduate school for Art at UCLA. Sarita talked about wanting to continue pursuing higher education, but without going into debt or sacrificing her budding Earth-based spiritual practice, embodied well-being, or interest in non-Western bodies of knowledge. 

David pointed to the words “DIY PhD” in his sketchbook and Sarita said “YES!” And so began their 6-year, self-guided program. Their classroom moved around the city and followed wherever their passions and interests took them. They met weekly and followed what felt fun, healing and resonant. They created countless exercises to center creativity and grow intuition as they learned. Whatever was happening in their daily lives was integral to their program, which shifted with their life experiences. 

Our DIY PhD Cohorts Gain:

How it works:

Our Year One course begins with releasing what no longer works for us, reframing old stories, connecting to our bodies, habitats, communities, pleasure, and our deep desire towards fulfillment as a planet. We share decolonial research methodologies, meditations for connecting to clarity, and mapping prompts to bring structure to your multi-passions, creative projects, and pursuits. 

During our second semester, participants begin to understand the emergent form and shape of their DIY PhDs, where the flavor of the ingredients starts to thicken, and deep desires and pathways for their program emerge. 

Our desire is to prepare multi-dimensional planetary scholars for a continued learning towards dream dissertations that nurture an abundant, collective and healing shift from the Anthropocene  ~ or humyn-centered paradigm, to the Ecocene ~ where all beings are living freely in reciprocity again. 

There is no one-right-way to do this, and you will never fail or be behind in our program. Your DIY PhD is yours; whatever learning is taking place in your life is integrated and connected to your DIY PhD. This includes breaks for healing, integration, rest and play.

You don’t need to know your destination 

or what you desire to study at the beginning.

(And if you do, it will probably shift as more clarity comes).

Want to talk about a potential path in our program?

Email Sarita Doe at to connect.

We are creating the deepest and highest educations of our dreams.

Hear from our previous cohorts:


No previous institutional degrees are required! A DIY PhD program can happen in tandem with an institutional program, instead of one, or after one!


You can come knowing exactly what you know at the time our program begins. We honor cycles of not-knowing as much as cycles of knowing. We support participants in mapping all of their passions, pursuits, and areas of potential study and learning what common threads emerge as especially resonant for their DIY PhD. These paths will also change and shift throughout the program.

We are legitimizing ourselves.

The DIY PhD is a self-accrediting degree program, and currently not guaranteed recognition by any governmental or formal institution. We are reclaiming our own agency and autonomy in deeper and higher educations! School for the Ecocene offers mentorship for planetary learners in their first year of self-guided higher and deeper education. 

DISCLAIMER: We do believe that many professions require technical training that would be unsafe to approach in a DIY fashion, such as engineers or surgeons. As artists, teachers, healers and Earthworkers, however, we feel confident that we can co-create these dream programs with connections to resources in our communities and DIY PhD guides like the Textbook for the Ecocene

Additionally, many planetary learners choose to participate in the DIY PhD alongside or to complement more traditional academic programs in order to meet their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs that are often ignored in higher education.

Our School is currently shifting into our new co-op model! We will share tuition updates in the new year.

Our curricula moves through monthly themes based on the movements and cycles in our planet and solar system: seed, rooting, water, fire, green, air, connection, cosmos. We tune into trusting the rhythm and pace of our dream lives with our bodies, seasons, cyclical unlearning, relearning and healing. In general, each class includes a check-in, a movement practice, incantation, meditation, and a guided mapping activity. The roots of our learning connect to ancestral lineages based in knowledges we hold in our bodies, ecosystem medicine, Ayurvedic teachings, Earth-based spirituality, critical pedagogy, liberatory frameworks like reparations, unsettling, decolonization and more. 

The first semester is focused on assessing where we are currently at, connecting to our bodies, habitat and emotions as primary sites of learning, growing as a learning community, unlearning and identifying the connections to Earth and spirit guides like ancestors and our own deepest and highest selves that will help our dream programs to unfold before us, with ease.

The second semester is when we meet biweekly in a large cohort, and biweekly in smaller self-organized mini-cohorts to really clarify what our purpose, projects and learning paths will be. By the completion of this Year One Course, participants are set up to continue learning and creating in any way they desire.

This Fall 2022 cohort will be capped at 14 people.

Yes. As of Spring 2022, we have a three-month course each semester called “Dissertation Integration,” in which anyone already on their DIY PhD path is welcome to join a weekly container for mapping, centering in on our Dream Dissertations, and co-working as we create our projects. Additionally, Sarita loves providing references and coaching to students who complete our Year One program.

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