PhD training for new era of thought leaders.

The Gund Institute for Environment and McGill University have partnered to launch the Leadership for the Ecozoic (L4E) PhD program in Fall 2018.

The Ecozoic era, coined by Thomas Berry, is a vision for a future founded on mutually enhancing relationships between human societies and the global community of life, including the environment. Leadership for the Ecozoic will chart a course for enabling this new era.

Charting a sustainable future

Leadership for the Ecozoic (L4E) is a global partnership – initially based at UVM and McGill University – that develops thought leaders for a new Ecozoic era by:

  • Advancing transdisciplinary scholarship in select doctoral programs to educate and empower new leaders for the Ecozoic
  • Co-creating a global research-to-action network to heal and restore Earth’s life support systems and foster a mutually-enhancing human-Earth relationship
  • Mobilizing and focusing higher education resources and communication on multi-faceted, human-induced, planetary disturbances

The L4E cohort will focus on developing and applying systems-based approaches to ecological economics, law, ethics, and related transdisciplinary efforts to research and chart pathways to the Ecozoic.

The partnership builds on UVM's and McGill's strengths in Ecological Economics, and an Economics for the Anthropocene (E4A) partnership, which includes about 40 graduate students, 80 collaborators, and 25 academic, government and NGO partners.

Find an Advisor

What's the Ecozoic?

“Ecozoic” is a term for an era coined by Thomas Berry, outlining a comprehensive objective of humanity “to assist in establishing a mutually enhancing human presence upon the Earth.”

As Berry and Swimme in The Universe Story (p. 251) maintain, “This cannot, obviously, be achieved immediately. But if this is not achieved in some manner or within some acceptable limits the human will continue to exist in a progressively degraded mode of being.”

Berry further states in a chapter on “The University” in The Great Work (p. 85), that “universities must decide whether they will continue training persons for temporary survival in the declining Cenozoic Era or whether they will begin educating students for the emerging Ecozoic.”


Funding Packages

PhD students at UVM will receive three full years of funding through a combination of research and teaching assistantships. These funds cover an annual stipend of $27,000, tuition, UVM's student health insurance, and an internship with a partner organization.

Travel and research funds are also available.


  • Student must be starting year 1 of a PhD program at UVM
  • Student must apply through the graduate college to an academic unit at UVM
  • Competitive GPA and GRE scores
  • If applicable, minimum TOEFL score of 100 or IELTS score of 7.0
  • Preference given to applicants who have not previously studied at UVM, and who already have a Master’s degree, but all qualified candidates will be considered.

Applications from women and people from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds are encouraged.

Application Process

Interested candidates should contact UVM Prof. Jon Erickson by email:

To apply:

1. Contact potential advisors directly to discuss your interests. Identify a Gund Fellow who can serve as your advisor. Note: Co-advisors may be from other UVM graduate programs. Learn more about environmental and sustainability graduate studies at UVM.

2. Submit two required applications:

  • Apply to the appropriate UVM college or school by the deadline (which vary). Indicate in your statement of purpose that you are applying L4E Assistantship (and/or a Gund Institute PhD Research Assistantship).
  • Submit the seperate Gund Institute PhD Application by the deadline. Applications must include a C.V. and statement of interest.


The application period is now closed. Applications are expected to re-open Fall 2018. 


Interested students should contact one of the following:

University of Vermont
Prof. Jon Erickson:

  • Applicants must identify a Fellow from the Gund Institute for Environment as an advisor, apply to a UVM PhD program of interest, and apply online for an L4E Assistantship.

McGill University
Prof. Peter G. Brown:

Gund Student and Alumni Stories

Learn about Gund students and alumni like Phoebe Spencer, who interned at the United Nations before joining the World Bank after graduation.

Key Dates

  • Students start Fall 2018.
  • The next application period begins Fall 2018.
  • UVM Colleges and Schools: Deadlines vary.

Why Choose Gund?