Virtue’s Compass is a long-term project to bring people together to work for a world of peaceful coexistence and abundance within planetary limits. The aims of the project are universal, meaning that we work to realize these conditions for all humans and for all human groups. But that is not yet enough. We see the critical importance of peaceful coexistence, respect, and mutual regard not only between every group of humans and every other, but between every group of humans and every other species and living ecosystem on the earth, up to and including the planet itself. Planetary limits are real, yet we believe abundance is possible within them, as long as we do not take “abundance” to mean “endless growth in production and consumption”.
“Virtue” is an old word with roots in Latin language and Greek philosophy. For leading Greek philosophers the virtues were those human excellences that demonstrated what humans could be at their best, as individuals and as members of societies. To realize the virtues also meant to fulfill the unique purpose and meaning of a human life. “Compass” refers to the fact that we will not always know how to bring out our best human qualities. A compass helps us know where to go next by showing us where we are now. What, in fact, are human beings capable of at their best? What will strengthen human intelligence, as well as qualities such as kindness, compassion, courage, patience, self-reflection, and many others? These questions have been important throughout human history. Our very diverse cultural traditions once provided strong and reliable frameworks within which to find answers. And they still are capable of that. Yet the contemporary world is far more fluid, interconnected, and rapidly evolving than ever before. “Compass” emphasizes the fact that we need to find (new) forms of knowledge and relationship, ways of living and daily practices, that can serve as reliable “direction-finders” for realizing the virtues in this time.
The Virtue’s Compass Institute seeks to build up experience and knowledge about how to promote learning in a variety of areas. We start with what we see as the core of all learning, which is to learn how to support ourselves and each other as we seek to find and to realize our own direction, both individually and collectively.
Our primary course has been a three-month English and leadership course we now call ELE3—English for Leaders in Entrepreneurship, Education, and Environment. ELE3 began in 2016, and it is the very first major project of the Virtue’s Compass Institute. It constitutes an ongoing experiment in combining training in English skills with the skills of leadership in the three areas outlined in its name. Important among these skills are the capacity for inward inquiry, the ability to offer genuine listening and mutual support to others, the tools of critical problem solving and research, awareness of the findings of ecology and climate science, personal goal setting, and many others.
In addition to ELE3 we have begun in recent years to also offer workshops and shorter courses online and in-person, still focused on English and leadership skills. In 2020 we began to offer one-on-one mentoring, primarily online, in a new program we call 3OM. We are now contemplating creating a land-based residential community that would provide year-round learning resources, internships, and educational tours for those interested in the kind of learning experiences we offer.
We believe that it is possible to live lives of beauty and integrity as we take responsibility for the leadership of our communities and the planet. We welcome you to join us!