America – The Cloud Institute

October 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’m coming to the end of my time in NYC, and one of the highlights has been meeting Jaimie Cloud, the founder of the Cloud Institute.

Education for Sustainability

The Cloud Institute is designing and implementing education for sustainability – essentially teaching a new way to understand our place in the world. They describe it as, ‘inspiring young people to think about the world, their relationships to it, and their ability to influence it in an entirely new way.’ Jaimie likened it to Copernicus’ discovery that the earth revolves around the sun, and not the other way round. In the same way, we have to adapt to the knowledge that;

  • healthy systems that have limits
  • our diversity makes life possible
  • we are all in this together (interdependence)

To have a good sense of what her work is about, watch her TEDx talk, and have a go at the fish game. The game is an example of some of the fun and practical tools they have developed, and that schools are now actually teaching in schools across New Jersey, Washington and Vermont.


Much of the work we’ll need to do is to re-teach our brains to see the world through a different frame/mental map. I’ve foolishly never really considered education as a big change-making opportunity, but Jaimie made the point that as children, we not only handle new ides better, but we’re also in a structured learning environment for 13 years – we’d be crazy not to make use of this time!

Coincidentally, one of my principle reasons to visit the US this month has been to look at graduate public policy programs. Speaking with Jaimie made me realise to what an extent our academic system constantly teaches us that the world is a zero-sum game, that to succeed in life means controlling as many scarce resources as possible. It was so refreshing, and sometimes really difficult, to see the world through the lense of abundance, and to find mutually beneficial relationships – for myself, for our wider community, and for the natural systems of the planet.

Imagine if we built that into policy decision-making processes…


They’ve usefully compiled a full-on reading list here and Jaimie specifically suggested Peter Senge’s ‘The Necessary Revolution‘ and David Rock’s ‘Your Brain At Work‘.


jaimie [at] cloudinstitute [dot] org

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