dr cathy fitzgerald

ecological artist | educator | researcher and student of forests

Dr Cathy Fitzgerald, Ph.D. (Carlow, Ireland) Founder Director of the global ECOVERSITY. She is an independent ecosocial (ecological) art practitioner, educator, consultant, and international speaker. She sat on the board of the National College of Art & Design, Ireland from 2009 to 2011, was nominated to the professional International EcoArt Network in 2016 and since 2019, is a Research Fellow for Art & Ecology, at the Burren College of Art. In June 2021, Cathy became an accredited ‘Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) with the Earth Charter’ educator and is alumni of Earth Charter International which holds the UNESCO Chair for ESD.

With the support of growing numbers of creatives and collaborators, Cathy seeks to skillfully guide the creative sector on how to overcome the severe struggles she encountered–even with a science background– to develop meaningful, impactful integrated ecosocial art practices beyond outdated, fragmented educational models. She similarly wants to empower an ecoliterate Irish and global creative sector to wisely, compassionately and beautifully employ their creativity– to envision and embody a life-sustaining Symbiocene era of enduring peace, justice and planetary wellbeing.

In the creative sector, Cathy has been recognised for her innovative entrepreneurial online training on ecoliteracy and transformative learning approaches for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) with Earth Charter ecosocial values pedagogy, by the EU Our Thriving Tribe creative entrepreneurial research programme (2020), Awaken Hub - Ireland's new women-in-business organisation (2020), Green Foundation Ireland, the UK Climate Cultures Showcase and the UK founded art.Earth network, RTE Lyric FM, and Dublin FM.

An Irish-based New Zealander (with dual citizenship), Cathy has been living in rural South Carlow since 2001 and in Ireland since 1995. She has a background in biological research and received a First Class Joint Honours degree in Painting and Irish Art History at the National College of Art & Design in 2000, and a MA in New Media (Virtual Realities), in 2002.

From 2007-10, Cathy was the first Director, managing and developing a 5-county Local Authority arts professional development programme for all art forms across South East Ireland. Cathy was respected across the region for her considerable personal insights and sensitivity towards the challenges creative practitioners face in their careers, and revealed an aptitude to care for, and foster an online community of 1400 creative practitioner members. She developed early, innovative courses in blogging and podcasting so creatives could independently showcase their processes and work.

Cathy's ongoing ecosocial art practice The Hollywood Forest Story (begun 2008) was the basis for her innovative Creative Practice-led PhD and audiovisual ebook The Ecological Turn: Living Well with Forests to explain ecosocial art practice using a Guattari ecosophy - action research framework (2018). This work envisions new ecological forestry in Ireland for the Symbiocene and explains embedded-in-place ecosocial art practice.

Her practice and research, which fosters political activism for national forest policy and advocacy for an international law against ecocide, has featured in The Irish Times, the US Minding Nature journal, and shared across the UK network.

Her article ‘Goodbye Anthropocene – Hello Symbiocene: EcoSocial Art Practices for a New World’ received international attention in Plasticity – The Global Reader: On Environmental Challenge for Art and Its Institutions, 2019 for the Centre for Contemporary Art U-jazdowski Castle, Warsaw and for the Australian Institute for Interdisciplinary Research into the Anthropocene (IIRA).

Her chapter ‘The Hollywood Forest Story: Placemaking for the Symbiocene’, appears in the Routledge 2021 Handbook on Placemaking edited by Dr Cara Courage.

Her work also features in the Routledge 2020 book on Creative Engagements with Ecologies of Place: Geopoetics, Deep Mapping and Slow Residencies by Prof. Mary Modeen, Dr Iain Biggs.

Cathy was also honoured to be invited to contribute to the forthcoming January 2022 New Village Press book produced by members of the longest running international ecoart network since 1999 –'Ecoart in Action: Activities, Case Studies and Provocations for Classrooms and Communities'..

dr nikos patedakis

US philosopher, mentor, artist and student of horses

Nikos is an experienced philosopher and educator whose transdisciplinary work arises at the intersection of Nature and Culture—the sciences, the arts, and the wisdom traditions (particularly the traditions of the Ancient Greek, Roman, and Hellenic periods, Eastern philosophy, and Indigenous traditions). His research encompasses the traditional areas of ethics, epistemology, aesthetics, ontology, and metaphysics, but remains rooted in the ancient Western orientation of philosophy as a way of life, in which philosophy is seen as fundamental to the healthy transformation of self and society. This is the tradition of Western philosophy that influenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. His philosophical approach is also influenced by the principles of permaculture, and he received Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) in June, 2021.

Nikos pioneered wisdom-based learning at two of the most diverse universities in North America: San Francisco State University and University of California, Santa Cruz. The wisdom-based approach provides a truly holistic, ecoliterate orientation incorporating contemplative practices and philosophical frameworks that lead to transformative experiences. This approach developed in part from his certification as a teacher of the Alexander Technique, which, as the great educational philosopher John Dewey put it, “bears the same relationship to education that education bears to all other human activities.” His pedagogical approach was refined not only in the university, but also during his time as a professional dance teacher, and as a negotiation trainer and consultant for Fortune 500 companies.

Nikos left academia to focus on helping professionals of all kinds learn to think the way nature works, by taking advantage of what he sees as the single greatest untapped cultural resource humanity has: The philosophical traditions of the world, and the storehouse of practical wisdom they contain for solving complex personal and global challenges. Nikos sees art as having a special relationship with philosophy. Both philosophy and art seek to see the world with fresh eyes and an awakened heart, and they seek to offer this insight and inspiration to the culture at large, for the benefit of all citizens and the broader community of life. To bring about a more just and thriving culture in the most direct and intelligent manner, we need to empower the arts by making philosophy as a way of life available to artists and to arts education. Nikos offers training to artists that transforms both their experience of life and their practice of creativity and art making.

Learn more about Nikos and his work at