Shelley Sacks 

Shelley Sacks initiated the Univeristy of the Trees project and works with groups in each area for an agreed period of time. She is an interdisciplinary artist exploring the role that 'connective practices' can play in our work towards a humane and ecologically viable world. She coordinates the Social Sculpture Research Unit, lectures, writes and explores social sculpture through a range of projects and processes. See also,

Clive Adams

Clive Adams, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW) has played an important supportive role in the evolution of this project. The University of the Trees has evolved from his invitation to develop a social sculpture project related to forests and trees. The research and development phase of the UoT project has been faciltated by CCANW, with a grant from the Arts Council of England.  See

Babetin Weber

Babetin is a final year art student at the Alanus University, Alfter, Bonn who is interested in exploring the social sculpture ideas in practice, and in the UOT as a long term approach for developing creative action and new thinking, linking inner and outer work. Together with others in the area, Babetin is setting up a UOT linked to Alanus University.

Dr. Christiane Klein

Dr. Christiane Klein from Atelierhaus Vahle in Darmstadt and Dr. Klaus Pohl from the Landesmuseum Darmstadt invited Shelley to present the University of the Trees project as part of the public symposium 'Stetig Wachsen' in Darmstadt in July 2006. Atelierhaus Vahle continues to play a significant role in facilitating the development of the project in Darmstadt.

Dr. Volker Harlan

Dr. Volker Harlan is a good friend of the University of the Trees, writing and giving lectures at public events on closely related areas of our work. He is a member of the Social Sculpture Research Unit core group, and a research fellow in the Arts Department at Oxford Brookes Univeristy. His lecture on the Forest as Social Sculpture will soon be accessible in English and German via this site.

Ruth Harvey-Regan

Ruth Harvey-Regan is an artist-faciltator who completed a Masters degree in Social Sculpture (October 2007). She was a member of the UoT-Exeter region, working alongside Johanna Korrndorfer to establish the project in this area.  In addition to fabricating and coordinating the development of the UoT kit, her work with the UoT is linked to her evolving doctoral project exploring the UoT from an auto-ethnographic perspective to inform her ongoing social sculpture and connective practice work. 

Matthias Klarebach

Matthias Klarebach coordinates the Soziale Plastik Arbeitskreis in Darmstadt, and is exploring new organisational practice  related to social sculpture. He is a member of the UoT core group, working with Atelierhaus Vahle and others to develop the University of the Trees in Darmstadt.

Dieter Schuhmacher

Dieter Schuhmacher is a landscape gardener with a special interest in the significance of developing new organs of perception. He is one of the UoT core group members in Darmstadt. Dieter is currently undertaking a special study in 'new forms of perception', in Heidelberg. He is interested in exploring the potential of such connective practices with local groups and bodies involved with forests in and around Darmstadt.  He also offers workshops to groups interested in practices relating to developing 'new organs of perception'.


Siddhartha from Fireflies Intercultural Centre outside Bangalore is an author, project initiator and network faciltator working on many social-ecological projects in India. One focus of his work has been with forest peoples. Alongside his commitment to an enlightened secularism, he has a special interest in developing tree projects that are both socially and ecologically supportive.

Prof. Caroline Tisdall

Caroline Tisdall is an author, film-maker and conservationist who collaborated with Jospeh Beuys from the early seventies, and has a long standing interest in social sculpture and transformative projects. Together with Shelley Sacks. Prof. Richard Hayward and Dr. Graham van Wyk, she spawned the Sustaining Life Project which has now developed into the new Earth Agenda project.  Caroline has recently faciltated dialogue between Jill Butler of the Woodland Trust and Shelley Sacks -who have begun how University of the Trees processes might relate to aspects of the Woodland Trust's work.

Earth Agenda 

Earth Agenda is a social sculpture project that involves a participatory network and a web-platform project. Earth Agenda explores the unseen interconnections between practices, issues and perspectives, highlights radical proposals and initiates creative interventions that work towards a humane and ecologically viable future. University of the Trees is one such creative intervention.

James Reed

James Reed is a South African artist who completed his Masters in Social Sculpture (2007) on a British Council award. During this period he worked closely with Shelley on the development of the University of the Trees, participating in the trials of the initial 'instruments' and dialogues about the strategies employed in this project, including the whole idea of creating kits. He is currently working in South Africa and the USA with the climate change kit, Agents of Change, developed  in collaboration with the SSRU's Earth Agenda project and for the Social Sculpture today exhibition in Basel, April,2007.

Advisors to University of the Trees

Dr. Chris Seeley 

Chris Seeley, after studying graphic design, moved into a corporate identity and new business development. Broaderning her horizons to encompass wider global issues and her creative life, Chris - now a Consultant (with clients such as the International Labour Organisation and the Welsh Assembly Government) and Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice (CARPP), University of Bath - works with public, private and educational organisations incorporating different ways of knowing beyond the intellect into an improvised, unmediated way of receiving the world, allowing spontaneous responses to emerge. Chris has recently (June 2008) co-led the first in a series of Connective Practices symposia with Shelley Sacks, in which University of the Trees was offered as an example.

Dr. Ian Cook

Ian Cook is a cultural geographer at the University of Exeter, collaborating with Shelley since the parallel worlds of his social-scientific and her social-sculptural work merged in 2000. His work continues to be influenced by explorations in social sculpture, the University of the Trees presenting fresh opportunities for further collaboration. Centring around Shelley's Exchange Values project, Ian convened a 'connective aesthetics' strand at the Royal Geographical Society conference in 2002, a 'connective aesthetics' ThinkTank at the International Project Space, UCE, Birmingham in 2004, and has been an Associate of the Social Sculpture Research Unit since 2000.

Jonathan Klugman - MIRA

Jonathan Klugman is an organisational development consultant who works in the field of social transformation. He is a member of Mira Companions for Development and has a special interest in collaboration. Jonathan facilitates and accompanies organisations in developing capacities and collaborative approaches both internally, and with their suppliers and clients. He has a deep interest and commitment to the exploration and practical application of social art, social sculpture and social transformation in organisations and society and is a member of The Association for Social Development.

Dr. Hildegard Kurt

Hildegard Kurt is a cultural researcher, author and co-founder of und. Institute for Art, Culture and Sustainability (, lecturing internationally and facilitating projects in this field. A member of the Social Sculpture Research Unit steering group Hildegard collaborates with Shelley in various contexts, including an annual programme in Weimar (from Bauhaus to Social Sculpture) and faciltated the contact with Christiane Klein, which led to the development of the University of the Trees in Darmstadt. In March 2007 Hildegard was visiting lecturer in Art and Sustainability at Florida Atlantic University, USA. In 2010 Hildegard Kurt was appointed Visiting International Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes.

Dr. Wolfgang Zumdick

Wolfgang Zumdick is a philosopher, author and curator who works in the Green Party and is a member of the Social Sculpture Research Unit steering group. Recent collaborations with Shelley include the exhibition Social Sculpture today which he curated for the "URSACHE ZUKUNFT" project in Switzerland, and a seminar on Beuys and Social Sculpture at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Wolfgang has written several books and essays on Joseph Beuys and Rudolf Steiner, the history of philosophy and on contemporary art, and is co-authoring a Social Sculpture Reader with Shelley Sacks and Hildegard Kurt. In 2009 he was appointed Visiting International Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes University.

Allan Kaplan

Allan Kaplan is an activist thinker/philosopher, environmentalist and organisational development consultant, working internationally, including Brazil and South Africa. He was a founder of the Community Development Resource Group in Cape Town. His seminal book Social Development Practitioners: Artists of the Invisible is concerned with territory very close to the University of the Trees -in particular his explorations of Goethean thinking and the development of 'new organs of perception'.  See: Proteus Initiative

Isis Brook

Isis Brook is a philosopher - environmentalist - landscape architect based at Lancaster University who has developed approaches to working with Goethean methodology in the landscape. She has published a number of key texts on Goethean methodology. See: Isis Brook

Dr. Maritta Kochweser

Maritta Kochweser brings her rich global experience across several disciplines to the University of the Trees. This includes many years of working in Amazonia, work at the World Bank, a period of directorship of the IUCN, setting up GEXSI -the Global Exchange for Social Investment, and her current engagement in developing processes to support rainforest communities. Maritta leads a research unit at the University of Sao Paulo (Amazonia em Transformacao, Historia et Perspectivas), and Directs Earth3000.;