University of the Trees is a global participatory framework - online and on the ground - recognising different kinds of thinking and knowledge, and prioritising experiential knowing.

University of the Trees is a global participatory network enabling creative initiatives to share their different kinds of knowledge and approaches to understanding and envisioning how we might live in the world without destropying it and each other.

University of the Trees is an alternative, mobile university that offers 'instruments' and approaches for exploring the connection between imagination and transformation, between the poetic and the practical, and for developing new forms of creative action in response to the huge challenges facing us all. 

University of the Trees is a 'kit' that creates an arena for exploring our relationship to the world and for developing actions based on new insights. It can used by an existing group or organisation, or by individuals to set up a group.

It is a flexible framework for social-ecological action in which the trees are our teachers and the ecological crisis is seen as an opportunity for consciousness.

This website explains the ethos of the University of the Trees project and how the project works in more detail

It also presents key ideas like 'instruments of consciousness' and 'new organs of perception' that are central to the University of the Trees project.

University of the Trees

enables groups and individuals around the world to participate in processes of joined up thinking, perception and action.



The project also takes forward the social sculpture strategies and commitments embedded in Joseph Beuys' ‘expanded conception of art', especially the awakened relationship to nature and the emphasis on ecological consciousness initiated with his 7000 Oaks.

Explore the ARCHIVE section for documentation, reflections and resources.


Local groups constitute this growing social sculpture network - connecting individual insight, focused dialogue and collective action towards the shaping of a humane and ecologically viable world.

 university of the trees -main forum -darmstadt

Start a group with the University of the Trees kit

Join an existing group in your region.

Other ways you can contribute

See blogs for each region



New Developments

04 July 2014

University of the Trees is in the process of becoming a social enterprise. We are also busy working on a 5-year strategy. This is being made possible by the generous contribution of change management consultants based in Germany and England.

The enormous potential of the University of the Trees has, like a tree, revealed itself over a period of time: since its small beginnings as "A Place for New Vision" in Ireland, in 2000, through many exchanges and fora and an intensive research-through-doing approach with several thousand people, both as individuals and in groups and organisations. The huge success we have had over the past few years with new practices and modules like "Earth Forum" has clarified and extended our understanding of what UOT is, how it needs to work and how people round the world can participate and be enabled to spread the practices themselves. Now, we feel we can finally understand what the nature and potential of this mobile, alternative University, and can truly take forward this work.

Between now and spring next year, when the restructuring process concludes, we are continuing to work actively, introducing the UOT and practices like Earth Forum, in different countries and contexts, as well as doing training for those who wish to create a University of the Trees "Field of Awareness" and be able to offer the "Earth Forum" practice.

Several things outlined on the current website have been redeveloped and extended, for example: the process of "how to start a UOT group" and "how to join a group".

For further information about current projects and activities of both the Social Sculpture Research Unit (SSRU) and the UOT, please check the SSRU website www.social-sculpture.org and Facebook page for the SSRU until the new UOT website is launched.

Citizens Art Days, Berlin

20-26 February 2012

The UOT, in collaboration with the Citizen Art Days - Berlin will faciltate 9 Earth Forum processes, as well as a two day training workshop for people wanting to become Earth Forum faciltators themselves. Contact Citizen Art Days to book a place. 

UOT- Berlin in collaboration with Heinrich Boell Stiftung
8/9 February 2012

Shelley Sacks and Hildegard Kurt are running a UOT workshop as part of the Radius of Art conference in Berlin. During the conference Shelley Sacks will speak with Davide Brocchi and Michelangelo Pistoletto on a panel convened by Sacha Kagan.

Wangari Maathai - Sad news

The University of the Trees honours the life and work of Wangari Maathai, who today (26.9.2011) passed away after many years of dedicated and inspired work for all the living beings on this planet. 

Your voice will remain amongst us. It is a force of compassionate connectedness that will not die. We thank you Wangari for what you have brought into the world.

Berlin - Meeting 16 October 2011

If you would like to contribute to developing the University of the Trees - Berlin - come to this meeting!

Meet at Haus der Kulturen der Welt  14.00 -17.30

Contact Shelley Sacks or Hildegard Kurt for further information



See here for text in German about UOT
See OYA magazine July-August 2011 for essay by Hidegard Kurt and dialogue on Social Sculpture

UOT and the Green Party
15 October 2011 -Bonn

An action - open to all!

Shelley Sacks and Wolfgang Zumdick are collaborating on an action as part of the NRW Green Party Congress. This action explores the idea that "Nachhaltigkeit ohne Ich-sinn ist Un-sinn".

For further info see the NRW Green Party website or contact:
0049 (0)211 38 666 32

UOT-South Africa 2011

Earth Forum and the Climate Summit
Earth Forum facilitator training in South Africa. This first group of Earth Forum facilitators is being trained. The focus is youth leaders in the run up to the 2011 Climate Summit. We are in the process of producing a Guide for the Earth Forum faciltators. Anyone can become an Earth Forum facilitator after a short apprenticeship.

Contact Dylan McGarry for more information:

May 2011 EARTH FORUM: one of the new 'instruments of consciousness' in University of the Trees.

Earth Forum - South Africa is a collaboration with the Climate Fluency Exchange in South Africa, coordinated by Dylan McGarry. It is being developed and tested in SA as part of the preparatory work towards the COP17 Summit, and is part-funded by the British Council and the Commonwealth Institute. Our first journey in South Africa - with the Earth Forum in Cape Town, Laingsberg and Johannesburg - also served to develop the first team, who are training youth leaders and others to facilitate the Earth Forum process over the coming year and beyond. See Earth Forum -SA on Facebook. We are developing an Earth Forum handbook for those wishing to initiate EF's themselves. The handbook will be available to individuals who have participated in 5 Earth Forums.

Earth Forum SA was at the Grahamstown Festival in July 2011 and in June 2011, it was linked to the Climate Conference in the Eastern Cape.

Launch of UOT - Berlin: 31 May 2011.  Hosted by Ueber Lebenskunst, Germany

The UOT - Berlin 'field of awareness' is being initiated in the Tiergarten, Berlin, radiating out from the Siegesaeule. Between 18.00 and 20.00 Shelley Sacks will be one of the 4 presenters in the ULK Klub, where she will respond to the theme - 'What happens when we have reached utopia?' and offer particpants a new UOT 'instrument of consciousness'. For details of event on 31 May, see Ueber Lebenskunst.

A meeting will be hosted by the und-Institut, Berlin on 16 October 2011, at 14.00 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, for people who want to develop the UOT in Berlin.

UOT - Oxford 2011

Oxford's new university!

In autumn 2011, we will continue to develop the 100 trees 'field of awareness' in Oxford.
If you would like to be involved in creating the 100 Trees 'Field of Awareness' : Volunteer now!!!  

Oxford Press Release, Mayday 2010
If you are interested in participating in this, please use the UOT contact form on this site, putting UOT-Oxford in the subject line.

New local groups

We are hoping to get the new kits out soon to the first of the many waiting people and groups.

The first ones will be going to Ravensberg and Kassel in Germany, London, and Cape Town, South Africa.

UOT -Exeter 2011

This year Shelley Sacks is working closely with Johanna Korndorfer of CCANW in Haldon Forest to introduce and develop aspects of the UOT. Two very successful workshops took place in March 2011. The next events are in June, followed by several events in Novermber 2011, include a Forest Forum on 18 Nov 2011. See CCANW for details.

Apologies again for all thise waiting for a response!

One reason for the long delay has to do with the redesign of some elements of the kit. Another has to do with needing regular assistance. We are in the process of making applications for this.

..if you have written to us and not yet had a response.

We have so many requests and are very behind responding to them. We are also simplifying and clarifying lots of things -about the KIT and how you can be involved.

In January 2011 Allan Kaplan and Shelley Sacks met to develop the first draft of the HANDBOOK and how we can offer facilitator training in 'the (re)schooling of the senses' . We are also in the process of developing a NEW WEBSITE which will offer space for 'practice centres' round the world to share what they are doing; a focus on scienctific, philosophical, cultural and interfaith perspectives and actions; a directory of global campaigns and initiatives; an arena for questions, issues and reflections; and space for online discussion.

So please stay with us - we are getting there.

In the meantime - let us know who you are, and go to LINKS to sign up for Get UP! protecting the Australian Native Forests and developing sustainable plantations for logging.

July 2010 - New Developments

Phase 2:
University of the Trees is becoming a mobile alternative university!
After feedback from groups using the kit, it has become clear that a special training programme would be useful - for people wanting to start a group or to use the kit with their organisations or communities. A small group who work in the area of 'new organs of perception' met in London in May to begin developing this.

Watch this space...

IF YOU HAVE WRITTEN ASKING FOR A KIT...  By end of August 2010 the new kit should be ready. Simpler, cheaper, more durable and including the first elements of the UOTs new 'training' modules.

Contact us if you are interested. We have many requests. We will get back to you. Thanks for being patient.

Events and meetings

New groups 2010

Just begun: Oxford(UK), Bonn (Germany). Under discussion: Leipzig (Germany), Cape Town (South Africa), Bangalore (India), Ravensberg (Germany).

Oxford's new university!

Creating the 100 Trees 'Field of Awareness' : Volunteer now!!!  

1 May 2010, Oxford Press Release

UoT- Oxford: Group meetings

All welcome. The next meeting of the UOT-Oxford group will take place in late July - early August. Please email us for more information. universityofthetreesoxford@gmail.com
UOT-Oxford is being assisted by the Cultural Olympiad -Creative Campus Initiative.

WOOD Festival Braziers Park -22/23 May

Helen Edwards, Rebecca Gasson, Marita Davidson and Charlotte Heffernan facilitated UOT processes as part of the Wood Festival - with groups of adults. Reflections to follow.

UoT - Bonn/Alfter: launched 24/25 April 2010

1st process: What is a tree? What is a human being?

Babetin Weber is facilitating the development of a new UOT group alongside Alanus University. Prof. Dr.Ulrike Eller-Rueter is also involved. Contact babetin@web.de

UoT - Exeter region meetings

Exeter region meetings have been taking place at CCANW, Haldon Forest  since Jan 2008. For more information about the group, the next meeting and how to get involved please contact:
Johanna Korndorfer at CCANW 
j.korndorfer@ccanw.co.uk or Tel: 00 44 (0) 01392 83 22 77

UoT - Darmstadt region meetings

For information on the Darmstadt group please contact Dieter Schuhmacher: 06151 3689244 or Atelierhaus Vahle:  06151 751 21 

Prof. Dr. Volker Harlan's text The Forest as a Social Sculpture soon to be accessed from this site in English and German.