Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy

Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy Training Program          

Summer 2019-Summer 2020

Course Description:

This program offers basic Buddhist training in the wisdom and skill needed to be a Buddhist Environmental Chaplain, i.e., those who work to establish people in a healthy, compassionate, and mutually supportive relationship with the natural world. It will offer experience-based activities and contemplative practices that deepen individuals’ own relationships with the natural world, as well as provide them with skills to be spiritual caregivers, helping others (re)connect with nature and face contemporary environmental crises with wisdom and compassion.

Areas of Training:

  • Environmentally Based Spiritual Care: Purpose and functioning of an environmental chaplain, applications and settings for ecologically oriented spiritual care, engaged Buddhism
  • Histories of Environmentalism: Environmental Movements, Environmental Justice, learning to engage with contemporary issues of social/environmental justice
  • Eco-Chaplaincy Skills: Spiritual counseling, collaboration with others, nature-based ritual, more-than-human storytelling, council practice, nature-based rites of passage
  • Buddhist practices and teachings related to environmental care
  • Practices, rituals and ceremonies for ministering ecological death, dying, grief and loss
  • Deep nature connection and practices for (re)connection to nature
  • Cultural competency
  • Conflict resolution
  • Design and implement personal project related to Buddhist Eco-chaplaincy

 Details and Logistics:

The BEC training program will run for one year and will include five workshop retreats. Each course will include teachings, sessions of meditation, skills training, reflection, group work, community building and silent time in nature. In between courses, participants will be assigned readings, writings, and exercises, have regular check-ins the faculty and with other participants. A key learning component of the program is for participants to create and engage in a personal project of their choosing that aligns with the goals of the program; this is putting into action the intention of the training and what is learned.  Offered by Gil Fronsdal, Susie Harrington and Kirsten Rudestam, the retreats will also feature guest teachers and facilitators skilled in specific areas of teaching and inquiry. Upon completion participants will receive certificate of completion in Buddhist Eco-chaplaincy Training from the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies

Criteria for Enrollment:

  • Four years of regular and committed Buddhist practice and study, and 21 total day on Buddhist meditation retreats. Equivalent involvement with other contemplative or spiritual traditions may qualify also.
  • Education and/or experience related to environmental issues and/or nature-based practices.
  • Some training in counseling, leadership skills, or teaching.

 As part of your application, we ask that you include a letter of recommendation from a teacher, mentor, or colleague in one of the above areas. Applications can be found online at www.sati.org. If you are unsure of your eligibility, please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions at buddhistecochaplaincy@gmail.com.


Retreats will be held at nature-based retreat centers proximate to the San Francisco Bay Area. Accommodations will be rustic, with options for camping/sleeping outside.


The cost for the twelve-month program is a sliding scale $1500-5000. Those paying the higher cost will be supporting those paying the lower end. There is an application fee of $50. Scholarships and work-exchange may be available. Our wish is to not have a lack funds prevent people from participating.  The cost of the program will be used for expenses in putting on the program (e.g., facility rental and food for each of the five retreats). Whatever funds left over will be used as honorarium for teachers and guest presenters.

Scheduled Dates

Summer: July 13th-17th 2019

Fall: October 30th-November 3rd 2019

Winter: March 2-6th 2020

Spring: May 30th – June 3rd 2020

Close: September 3rd — 7th 2020

Application: Applications accepted any time up to June 20. Applications will be processed starting March 1st.           

Eco-Chaplaincy Application



Gil Fronsdal is the co-teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California and the Insight Retreat Center in Santa Cruz, California. He has been teaching since 1990. Gil has practiced Zen and Vipassana since 1975 and has a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford. He has a B.S. in Agronomy from UC Davis where he was active in starting the Student Farm and the Alternatives in Agriculture Program. Practicing Buddhism in the wilderness has been formative for his understanding of both Buddhist practice and our relationship with the natural world.

Susie Harrington is the guiding teacher for Desert Dharma, based in Moab, Utah. She teaches both regionally and internationally. She has trained in the Insight tradition since 1989, and began teaching in 2005, with additional influence from Tibetan Buddhism, Advaita, and the Diamond Approach She offers retreats outside, believing nature to be a profound teacher, and a gateway to our true self. She was an outdoor professional for over 30 years, including years as a river guide, mountain guide, and backcountry ranger; and she now finds her greatest delight in sharing her love of the dharma and the natural world. She is a member of the Spirit Rock Teacher’s Council.

Kirsten Rudestam is an environmental educator, wilderness guide, and meditation teacher. She has a PhD in Environmental Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz where she studied political ecology, sense of place, and environmental justice. Kirsten has fifteen years of experience teaching environmental field courses, nature-based meditation programs and guiding wilderness expeditions. She is trained as a vision fast guide through the School of Lost Borders and is a facilitator for Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects. Kirsten has been practicing vipassana meditation since 2001 and graduated from Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders Program in 2005.


For More Information

 Additional information and applications for the program are available at www.sati.org. Please contact buddhistecochaplaincy@gmail.com for any questions about the program. Review of applications will begin March 1. Later applications will be considered depending on space.


Sati Center’s Eco-chaplaincy program is supported by a generous grant from The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism (www.fredericklenzfoundation.org)


Sati Center for Buddhist Studies

The Sati Center has been offering classes in Buddhist Studies in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1997. Our perspective balances scholarly inquiry with serious meditation practice. We believe that study and practice work together to deepen one’s realization of the Dharma and to help manifest that realization in the world. For information on ongoing Sati Center programs please visit us at www.sati.org or contact us at karuna@sati.org or 650-223-0311.