GSF 2023


The Global Sustainability Fellows program is an educational initiative of the Sustainability Laboratory designed to inspire, prepare, and mobilize future generations of leaders to tackle urgent sustainability challenges facing the planet.
The GSF is a rigorous graduate level program that combines cross-discipline work, international exposure, and hands-on, experience-based learning to address issues of sustainability, change processes, and development.


2014 Summer Session

(July 6 – July 23, 2014)

The GSF Pilot Summer Session took place over two and a half weeks in July of 2014 at the EARTH University campuses in Costa Rica. Twenty students from 15 countries and five continents, representing a range of disciplines including system dynamics, ecology, education, health, business, architecture, urban planning and more, participated in the program. This introductory session was followed by actual project development work that took part the following summer with the Martina Bustos community.

2015 Summer Session

(August 14 – August 31, 2015)

The 2015 Summer session served to deepen exposure to core theoretical concepts and engage Fellows with members of the migrant community of Martina Bustos. For this session, cohorts returned to Costa Rica to work with the community in collaboratively developing a comprehensive sustainable development plan, thereby deepening the practice component that they began the previous summer.

2018 Summer Session

(June 16 — July 7, 2018)

The 2018 GSF session was held over three weeks during the summer of 2018 at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, located at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel’s Arava Valley. The program welcomed 17 Fellows from 15 different countries, who represented a broad range of disciplines, including economics, environmental science, education, psychology, engineering, politics, agriculture, art, and more. The faculty consisted of a diverse team of experts in the fields of system thinking, sustainability, and sustainable development. Notably, three faculty members were alumni of previous GSF programs.

Unique Features

The approach combines three key elements:

  • A rigorous definition of sustainability and a derived set of five core sustainability principles, which provide an essential road map to developing model sustainability practices.
  • A perspective on evolution and a theory of change, which together provide a potent blueprint for addressing complexity and managing significant change processes.
  • A whole system approach and a system-oriented design strategy, which provide a comprehensive methodology for addressing significant global issues, guiding project planning, and facilitating development processes.


In addition to these elements, the GSF Program also introduces modules, methodologies, and experiences related to:

  • Systems Modeling
  • Project management
  • Addressing transboundary issues
  • Peace and conflict resolution
  • Personal development and Self-knowledge
  • And more

The Sustainability Laboratory

The Sustainability Laboratory works to address urgent sustainability challenges facing the planet by creating and demonstrating effective tools for catalyzing radical change. Founded on the belief that effective responses will not likely emerge from the same methods and mechanisms that perpetuate the existing crisis, The Lab is being organized to foster bold experimentation with untested ideas, approaches and technologies that transcend prevailing conventions.
Founded by Dr. Michael Ben-Eli in 2008, The Lab has developed its own unique, action-oriented conceptual framework to guide its activities, taking a holistic perspective and featuring cross-sector and cross-disciplinary collaboration. Using this framework, The Lab’s initiatives focus on identifying key sustainability-related issues and developing a portfolio of cutting-edge approaches and demonstration projects.

The Lab is being developed as a network linking advanced activity centers mapped onto specific eco-zones around the world. The centers will subscribe to a common set of principles, values, and operating practices. The Lab’s educational initiatives—including The Global Sustainability Fellows Program—are crucial to The Lab’s broader goals and to addressing the urgency of mobilizing global talent to work collaboratively towards a better world.