Zoe Weil | Cofounder and President of the Institute for Humane Education
As cofounder and president of the Institute for Humane Education, Zoe Weil envisions education as a path toward a more just world. In 1996, Weil and Rae Sikora founded the Institute for Humane Education in Surry, creating a hub of educational programs offering online and in-person courses, master’s degrees, and an online resource center. The institute posits “solutionary thinking” as a new approach to resolving issues of injustice by recognizing the interconnectedness of human rights, animal protection, and environmental preservation. Instead of approaching issues like conservation from a single perspective, solutionary thinkers combine multiple frameworks; for example, students learn about the connections between water pollution caused by fertilizer runoff and poor health caused by common agricultural practices, and devise solutions that help protect the ocean, restore farmland, and improve human health. Weil has also authored seven books, including her most recent, The World Becomes What We Teach: Educating a Generation of Solutionaries, and she has delivered six TEDx Talks. After training adults for two decades, the institute is now targeting youth. Recently, the institute began developing a solutionary pilot program that involved 350 middle and high school students this past year; in early June, student teams from six schools presented their innovative solutions for local and global problems at the University of Maine during the institute’s first regional summit. “If we can transform education, we can create solutions to virtually anything,” says Weil.