Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy

If you would like to pay your Eco-Chaplaincy tuition, you can do so with a credit card or Paypal.

We now have a Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy Support Network

Please share this offering with those who may benefit.

Application period is now closed for our 2022-2024 program.

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 support people in developing healthy, compassionate, and mutually supportive relationships with each other and 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 socio-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

Previous Guest Teachers:

  • Christina Fernandez
  • Alexi Sigona
  • Mutima Imani
  • Sarah Vekasi
  • Tory Capran
  • Kristin Barker
  • Robin Craig
  • Alan Senouke
  • Nick Ross
  • brontë velez
  • Kyle Lemle
  •  Rene Henery
  •  Belvie Rooks
  • Shilpa Jain
  • Desiree Banzhaf
  • Kristin Masters
  • Sean Feit Oaks
  • David Loy
  • Thanissara

Details and Logistics:

The BEC training program will run for one and a half years (18 months) and will include ten one or two-day online retreats and two seven-day residential retreats (California based location). Courses will include teachings, sessions of meditation, skills training, reflection, group work, community building and practice in nature. In between courses, participants will be assigned readings, writings, and exercises, and have regular meetings 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, Ram Appalaraju, 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.


This program includes two one-week retreats and 17 days/10 online sessions

July 22-24th, 2022 – Online
September 7-8th, 2022 – Online
October 7 and/or 8th, 2022 – Online
November 4-10th, 2022 – Residential
January 16-17th, 2023 – Online
March 7-8th, 2023 – Online
May 5-6th, 2023 – Online
June 24th, 2023 – Online
August 6-12th, 2023 – Residential
October 10-11th, 2023 – Online
December 4th, 2023 – Online
January 15-16th, 2024 – Online


The cost for the eighteen-month program is a sliding scale of $3000-6000. The sliding scale allows participants to choose the level they are able to support the program and the teachers. Your generosity is appreciated and will also help provide support for those who need financial assistance. We offer work exchange opportunities and a limited number of scholarships for those who need assistance. Our wish is to not have funds prevent people from participating.

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.


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.

Ram Appalaraju has been practicing Buddhism since 2014 and studied Vedanta since 1998 at Sri Ramakrishna Mission and Chinmaya Mission. He has been studying Buddhism under Gil Fronsdhal and Bikkhu Analayo. He is trained as an eco-chaplain at Sati Center and serves as an eco-chaplain at environmental organizations. He volunteers at non-profits focused on causes relating to environmental issues and digital education to underprivileged communities. He also serves as a volunteer chaplain (through Chaplaincy in Corrections) at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas CA. Ram was in the tech industry for 35 years serving in various capacities and retired in 2017 to deepen spiritual connection and explore the interdependent nature of all beings through Buddhist teachings and science.

Application Details:

To apply, please complete the Eco-Chaplaincy Application and email to buddhistecochaplaincy@gmail.com. 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. If you are unsure of your eligibility, please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions at buddhistecochaplaincy@gmail.comApplications will be processed in the order received until the course is full.

For More Information

For more information, please see the recent post on One Earth Sangha’s website and Earth Dharmaa curated website devoted to sharing the creative expressions of the first graduates of the Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy Training Program.

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.

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