The University of the Trees may offer inspiration, resources and connections with other people for your Beuysterous actions. It continues the ‘social sculpture’ practices of Joseph Beuys, which aim to extend artistic practice to wider domains of social and ecological action.

The UoT reminds me a little of the Transition approach – a toolkit, ethos and set of practices for people to set up local enquiry groups towards eco-social repair. It’s different from Transition because meetings take place in a cluster of trees, and use artistic objects (rather than didactic films in Transition’s case) to stimulate open-ended learning. These objects (which might be things or ideas) are called Instruments of Consciousness. These help to open up channels of empathic understanding of trees and other species – or the soul of the world.



If you form a group to work in a particular wood, you can receive a social sculpture kit, which includes some felt bands to place around some trees to mark out your forum. There is a also a wedge, which is used to keep questions open. More about the kit here.

I’d be interested to hear comments from anyone who is involved in a University of the Trees group. What have the groups nurtured? Are the groups sustained over time?

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