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.

Subscribe below to our mailing list for more information on our next cohort!

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

Applications will open for our next live cohort in October 2021. Our next live session begins in January 2022. Once we begin, our cohort meets weekly for the first four months for two hours each week. Every class includes a check-in to witness and connect with our emotional learning, an embodiment practice to open the channels of knowledge in our bodies, an incantation to connect to our gratitude, spirits and guides, a meditation to connect to our intuition and intentions for learning, and a mapping exercise to visualize and activate our deep desires and DIY PhD pathways.

After the first four months, we take a break, and then return for biweekly class meetings, complimented by smaller biweekly mini cohort meetings. This mini cohort rhythm prepares DIY PhD candidates to continue learning beyond our School Program, for another 3-5 years, depending on their desired program length. These autonomous mini-cohorts continue creating their Dissertations together.

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, payable in full at a discount rate, or in 8 tuition payments. For folks who make under $20,000 a year, tuition is $250/month, or $1,800 total. For folks who make between $20,000 and $60,000 a year, tuition is $375/month, or $2,800 total. For folks who make over $60,000 a year, tuition is $500/month, or $3,800 total. We have low income #BlackLivesMatter and #LandBack scholarships available for our low income Black and/or Indigenous community members who are unable to pay at the above rates. Email us at hello@ecocene.school should this apply to you, with “BLM” or “LandBack” in the subject line. Let us know in the body what rate you can afford and we will follow up with you.

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. 

Our new model will allow for increased cohort sizes! Currently each cohort has 14 participants.

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