Creating an Ecovillage

Anthony Weston combines philosophy and environmental studies to develop a model for a more sustainable community.

What if people lived in communities that fostered better social relationships and job opportunities and more sustainable food production? What if everyone in a community was committed to caring for the land so that daily activities not only improved their individual lives but benefited the soil, plants and ecosystems? What would happen if in this social and agricultural system, reliance on nonrenewable resources was minimized while efficient use of rainwater, soil nutrients, labor and energy was maximized?

It sounds a lot like utopia or even a step back in time, but Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies Anthony Weston’s work is actually more about conceptualizing and building a community that will be sustainable in the future. In addition, it is work he shares with his students through an Environmental Visions course.

Hart’s Mill Ecovillage and Farm is a project that started eight years ago on 112 acres east of Elon near Efland, N.C. The concept—to create a compact village of about 30 homes around a community center—by itself isn’t unique. However, the aim of the project is to harmlessly integrate this village into the natural world. That means about 85 percent of the land will be dedicated to open space and restorative agriculture, and the community members who live there will be as self-sufficient in food and energy consumption as possible.

I’m a philosopher living in the 21st Century. That always means a sense of possibility—the world can be many things and doesn’t have to just be what it is now. I’m always thinking and many other folks are thinking about how the world could be different and how we could be living in better ways. … There are certain problems at the moment and a major one, to me, is how we relate to the larger natural world.

Once established, the ecovillage, a community that will be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable, will be a model and educational resource for others interested in building the long-term health and resilience of the land and its inhabitants in addition to supporting a thriving community and social life.

Joined Elon’s Faculty:

  • 1992


  • Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Michigan
  • B.A. in Philosophy from Macalester College

Recently Published Work:

  • Mobilizing the Green Imagination: An Exuberant Manifesto (New Society Publishers, 2012)
  • A 21st Century Ethical Toolbox (Oxford University Press, 2001; 3rd edition, 2012; 4th edition in press, 2017)
  • A Practical Companion To Ethics (Oxford University Press, 1997; 4th edition, 2011)
  • Workbook for Arguments, co-authored with David Morrow (Hackett Publishing Company, 2011; second edition 2015)
  • How to Re-Imagine the World: A Pocket Handbook for Practical Visionaries (New Society Publishers, 2007)