The DIY PhD

The Universe is our University

What it is:

Our School’s DIY PhD course supports 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 year-long course, participants continue learning in self-organizing cohorts.

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.

The Spring 2022 Cohort is closed. Our waitlist for the Fall 2022 Cohort is now open. Now! See waitlist application, testimonies and program details in FAQs below.

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 is an 8-month mentorship for people interested in creating their own interdisciplinary PhD programs. During the first semester, we tend to the substrate of our learning: releasing what no longer works for us, reframing old stories, connecting to our habitats, community, pleasure, creativity and curiosity. We begin setting up our research projects, share decolonial research methodologies, creative praxis and mapping prompts to bring structure to your multi-passions and pursuits. We go on a 1-3 month break between the first and second semesters, where participants are encouraged to relax, conduct field work, go on creative retreats and play. 

We continue meeting biweekly during the second semsester. 

During the second half of our course, participants begin to really give form and shape to their DIY PhDs, where the flavor of the ingredients starts to thicken, and deep desires and pathways for their program emerge. Participants also begin to form mini-podlets, meeting in-between our biweekly group sessions.

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).

Watch our Info Session here.

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



Testimonios

This class was a great way to organize myself and the projects that I'm working on into a larger, more cohesive lifelong learning process. To see the larger, overarching themes within the work that I'm doing. It allowed me a reason to carve out space in my week for thoughtful, productive work on the inside and outside! For a long long time I have been unsure (and I still am!!) as to why I feel the urge to do the things I do, think about the things I want to think about... and this process let me explore that on a spiritual level but also on an academic level, drawing connections to other people's work, worldviews, also aliens and the ocean and other folks trying to survive

Rebecca Goldschmidt

2015 Cohort

Sarita's DIYPhD program was exactly what I was looking for. The program provided a structure and support to develop work that is personally rewarding, and helps students hone what rings most true for them. For anyone who is interested in pursuing interdisciplinary, holistic research and creative work, I would highly recommend this program. It provides an enlightening alternative to traditional education while supporting a rigorous, self-directed approach to developing one's own work. Sarita's suggestions, prompts, questions, and exercises were the seeds for developing my work in ways that it had never gone before. Working with her helped me gain confidence in my views and perspective and helped clarify where I am going with my work, my purpose for doing it, and my dreams for realizing it

Adrine Arakel

2020 Cohort

I've gotten self-care and awareness, support group, how to breathe better for better health and more out of the DIY PhD. I feel more confident in my approach to writing my book, that what I am creating is unique and magical. This course is a container of safety for self-actualization. I am beginning to realize my intelligence and experiences that I went through to enrich my intelligence are valid. I am growing deeper into my plant medicine practice and am birthing the ideas that I've been pregnant with for so long.

Lyn Pacificar

2020 Cohort

“I have gained connection to a loving community of like-minded heart-centered eco-warriors, trust in myself and others, and regular reminders of my connection to spirit and ancestors. This course is a community built of beings supporting one another in finding their voices, deepening their understanding, and working toward personal healing for the collective good. Through this course, I was reminded that my true passions and interest lie in the body, healing and action. I am finding myself crawling my way, slowly, steering a heavy ship back to that truth. It’s scary but ultimately liberating to remember these forgotten parts of myself”

Spring 2020 DIY PhD

Cohort member

“The DIY PhD is a supporting guide and structure to manifest one’s on vision for their their life’s work. I have refined my vision, gained confidence in my ability to push forward, gained a wonderful cohort who are aligned in our care for our lands and every being who has ever, will and is now inhabiting our home planet. I see how important connection is for me to pursue my work. Writing can be solitary and I am used to being pretty loner-like. The connections and support we have created for each other has taught me a lot about the kind of community of people I need to encourage me to carve and keep to my path.

Besos for the medicine!

Spring 2020 DIY PhD Cohort member

“My DIY PhD is an exploration of my approach to education and how my childhood trauma is related. I am creating curricula and writing about childhood trauma. I have become more confident in my work/project. It has also made me understand how many of my experiences and trauma are connected to what I want to do and helped me grow a lot spiritually and emotionally. Thank you for all of your guidance and medicine! This has been such an intuitive, fruitful learning process. Nothing felt forced, and so happy to connect with this amazing community!”

Spring 2020 DIY PhD

Cohort Member

This class was a great way to organize myself and the projects that I'm working on into a larger, more cohesive lifelong learning process. To see the larger, overarching themes within the work that I'm doing. It allowed me a reason to carve out space in my week for thoughtful, productive work on the inside and outside! For a long long time I have been unsure (and I still am!!) as to why I feel the urge to do the things I do, think about the things I want to think about... and this process let me explore that on a spiritual level but also on an academic level, drawing connections to other people's work, worldviews, also aliens and the ocean and other folks trying to survive

Rebecca Goldschmidt

2015 Cohort

Sarita's DIYPhD program was exactly what I was looking for. The program provided a structure and support to develop work that is personally rewarding, and helps students hone what rings most true for them. For anyone who is interested in pursuing interdisciplinary, holistic research and creative work, I would highly recommend this program. It provides an enlightening alternative to traditional education while supporting a rigorous, self-directed approach to developing one's own work. Sarita's suggestions, prompts, questions, and exercises were the seeds for developing my work in ways that it had never gone before. Working with her helped me gain confidence in my views and perspective and helped clarify where I am going with my work, my purpose for doing it, and my dreams for realizing it

Adrine Arakel

2020 Cohort

I've gotten self-care and awareness, support group, how to breathe better for better health and more out of the DIY PhD. I feel more confident in my approach to writing my book, that what I am creating is unique and magical. This course is a container of safety for self-actualization. I am beginning to realize my intelligence and experiences that I went through to enrich my intelligence are valid. I am growing deeper into my plant medicine practice and am birthing the ideas that I've been pregnant with for so long.

Lyn Pacificar

2020 Cohort

“I have gained connection to a loving community of like-minded heart-centered eco-warriors, trust in myself and others, and regular reminders of my connection to spirit and ancestors. This course is a community built of beings supporting one another in finding their voices, deepening their understanding, and working toward personal healing for the collective good. Through this course, I was reminded that my true passions and interest lie in the body, healing and action. I am finding myself crawling my way, slowly, steering a heavy ship back to that truth. It’s scary but ultimately liberating to remember these forgotten parts of myself”

Spring 2020 DIY PhD

Cohort member

“The DIY PhD is a supporting guide and structure to manifest one’s on vision for their their life’s work. I have refined my vision, gained confidence in my ability to push forward, gained a wonderful cohort who are aligned in our care for our lands and every being who has ever, will and is now inhabiting our home planet. I see how important connection is for me to pursue my work. Writing can be solitary and I am used to being pretty loner-like. The connections and support we have created for each other has taught me a lot about the kind of community of people I need to encourage me to carve and keep to my path.

Besos for the medicine!

Spring 2020 DIY PhD Cohort member

“My DIY PhD is an exploration of my approach to education and how my childhood trauma is related. I am creating curricula and writing about childhood trauma. I have become more confident in my work/project. It has also made me understand how many of my experiences and trauma are connected to what I want to do and helped me grow a lot spiritually and emotionally. Thank you for all of your guidance and medicine! This has been such an intuitive, fruitful learning process. Nothing felt forced, and so happy to connect with this amazing community!”

Spring 2020 DIY PhD

Cohort Member

FAQ's

No previous institutional degrees are required!

No!

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.

We are offering the DIY PhD at a sliding scale. Folks can choose to pay at one time for a discount tuition rate, in 8 monthly payments or in 13 monthly payments for folks experiencing financial hardship. We ask that you take your income and/or your financial access into account when placing yourself at one of the three levels. In other words, you may not make income at that level, but do have access to your family’s generational wealth or inheritance. Thank you for making our sliding scale model possible!

Sliding Scale:

Income or financial access under $50,000/year: $215/month in 13 payments, $350/month in 8 payments, or $2,600 paid in full.

Income or financial access between $50,000 & $100,000/year: tuition is $276/month in 13 monthly installments, $450/month for 8 months, or $3,400 paid in full.

Income or financial access over $100,000: $400/month in 13 monthly installments, $650/month in 8 monthly installments, or $5,000 paid in full.

We have #Reparations and #LandBack scholarships available for our low income Black and/or Indigenous community members to Turtle Island, the land our School occupies, who are unable to pay at the above rates. 

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. 

Cohorts are usually between 14 and 17 people! We cap it at 20.

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