An online resource for designing a better world.

Ecosa Institute

The Brief

"Education should be a right, not a privilege," Senator Bernie Sanders. WE AGREE!! Ecosa Institute is now TUITION-FREE. If you agree, help us pay-it-forward and donate to Ecosa today! "We believe a pay-to-learn policy creates a divided society and our program provides an important role model for the next generation approach to higher education,” stated Ecosa founder Tony Brown. "Students should not have to go into debt to be educated. It's hard to learn that a student cannot afford the education we offer - but now they can!" At Ecosa we teach sustainable and regenerative ecological design through experiential learning, hands-on project work with real-life clients, field trips, inspiring faculty and speakers, plus 3 days in the wild with Dual Survivor reality star Cody Lundin. Join us for the experience of a lifetime - and it's FREE!


Is Free Tuition the Wave of the Future?


PRESCOTT, AZ – Imagine attending an institution of higher education without worry of cash up front or spending much of your work life repaying school loans.  If the Ecosa Institute has anything to say about it, free tuition will replace the current financial aid system saddling each of last year’s university graduates with student loan debt averaging $37,172.


Putting money where its mouth is and paying vision forward into action, Ecosa now offers 28 prospective students free tuition to its Ecological Design Certificate Program (EDCP).  Value of the 15-week semester is $12,000 for each participant and accepted students need only prove competence and commitment.


“We want to reach students who have the ability to think critically, perform in-depth research, and commit to a demanding program,” said Tony Brown, Ecosa Institute founder and director. “The goal is to find students, regardless of income, who are most likely to create positive change in the world.”


The Ecosa Institute’s semester in Ecological Design was created in 2000 to show how human needs can be integrated with nature’s requirements to ensure that both thrive. Students are given new perspectives on problem-solving through design in a small group of 14 participants who meet six hours a day five days a week in both studio and field settings.


The four-month certificate program emphasizes the balance needed between humans and nature through urban design, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, graphic design, and environmental responsibility.


Motivation for the free tuition offer tracks with the decline in government funding for higher education, Brown stated, citing that costs increasingly have shifted from taxpayers to students. Only 34 percent of Americans 18 years of age and older hold college degrees, he added, and even fewer are willing to take on large debt before they have landed a job.


An architect by trade, Brown apprenticed for several years with Paolo Soleri on the Arcosanti project, which proposed a radical new approach to structuring cities. That experience led Brown to establish Ecosa in 1996 and now, to spearhead free tuition.


“Paolo was a real inspiration for me and taught me how to ‘think outside the box’,” Brown explained. “Free tuition started as a crazy idea.  Expecting that a tiny organization such as ours could influence the national debate on education seems bold and daunting. But our board recognizes that we have to put our stake in the ground and move the concept forward.”


As part of its efforts, the board has written a “Manifesto,” which identifies the current state of higher education, soaring tuition debt, ignorance leading to a downward spiral in social engagement and civic involvement, income inequality, and the premise that students should not be forced into debt to be educated. Read the Manifesto here.


“We believe a pay-to-learn policy creates a divided society and our program provides an important role model for the next generation approach to higher education,” Brown stated.


Ecosa Institute is undertaking a comprehensive fundraising campaign, including gofundme and corporate underwriters, to fund the free tuition program.


Deadline to apply for the fall 2017 semester is June 1st.  Information about the two-stage application process is available at  A $50 non-refundable application fee is required when submitting the application. For additional information, call Laura Kasper at 928-541-1002.



The mission of Ecosa Institute is to restore health to the natural environment, and thus the human environment, through education in design. The institute’s vision is of a world that blends the ethical values and ecological patterns, which are essential to the health of the world, with the vitality and dynamism of the design arts.