Bio (Hilary Leighton)

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Hilary Leighton

Hilary Leighton


Associate Professor, Program Head


Environment and Sustainability


A lifelong apprentice to nature and psyche, Hilary Leighton is Associate Professor, Psychotherapist and Registered Clinical Counsellor in private practice. Drawing upon the wisdom of ecopsychology, depth psychology, general systems theory, and embodied, nature-and arts-based practices, her scholarly research and teaching seek ways to: extend the notion of the individual psyche to a world ensouled; inspire a whole-human, ecologically intelligent epistemology; and cultivate reconnection with a sentient Earth. She examines and reflects the ethical dilemma, suffering and loss of our relationships with wildness and contemplates learning as an initiatory journey toward maturation, regeneration and a more soulful way of belonging. 


Founding Director of Continuing Studies at RRU, Leighton curated leading-edge courses, certificates and public events for over a decade. As Director of Individualized Study in the College of Interdisciplinary Studies, she assisted graduate students in creating meaningful personalized pathways of study. Now, as faculty in the School of Environment and Sustainability, and program head for the MA in Environmental Education and Communication, she teaches ecopsychology, supervises graduate students, and presents nature-responsive research at environmental conferences.


Master of Education: Curriculum & Instruction from Simon Fraser University (2004), Interdisciplinary PhD from University of Victoria (2014), University of Victoria Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship Award (2011-2014),

Integrative Body Psychotherapy Practitioner Certification from the IBP Institute, Venice, CA (2012), Registered Clinical Counsellor in BC (since 2014), Myers Briggs Type Indicator Qualifying Certification from Psychometrics Canada (2005), ACEC Counselling Certificate, from The Open Learning Agency (1999).


Bird, G., Leighton, H, and McLean, A, (2019). Chapter 9. A matter of life and death: Tourism as sensual remembrance. In C. Palmer & H. Andrews, (Eds.) Tourism and embodiment. (pp. 121-139). UK: Routledge. 

Dale, A. & Leighton, H. (2020). Chapter 1. (Edge)ucation by design. In D. Wright, (Ed.), S. Hill,  (Ed.). Social ecology and education. London, UK: Routledge. 

Dale, A., Clifton-Ross, J., Jost, F., Leighton, H., Hodson, J., and Bernard, M. (2019). Biodiversity and Communicating Climate Change Research: Harnessing the Power of Art, Science and Social Media. Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, Special Edition.

Leighton, H. (2004). Winged seeds: A sensual inquiry, grounds for learning. (Thesis). Simon Fraser University, BC.

Leighton, H. (2014). Wild (re)turns: Tracking the epistemological and ecological implications of learning as an initiatory journey toward true vocation and soul. (Doctoral dissertation). University of            Victoria, BC.

Leighton, H. (2019). Windfall. In A walk in nature: Poetic encounters that nourish the soul. M. Moats, D. Sebree, V. Belton, L. Hoffman, (Eds.) (p.54). CO: University Professors Press.

Leighton, H. (2020). Chapter 18. Mindscapes and landscapes: Rendering (of) self through a ‘body’ of work. In E. Lyle, (Ed.), Identity landscapes: Contemplating place and the construction of self. (pp. 197-209). Leiden, NL: Brill/Sense Publication.

Leighton, H. (2020). Research Fit for an (Edge)ucator. Learn. (pp 12-13). BCTF magazine May issue.

Leighton, H. (2020, April, 1). Complicated Gifts: Remembering How to Live and Love Well Through Crisis. Medium. Retrieved online from:

Leighton, H. & Dale, A. (2019). Chapter 4: Where living and learning meet: Bringing the classroom into the city. In K. Kremers, A. Liepins, & A. York, (Eds.) Developing change agents: Innovative practices for sustainability leadership. Montreal, QC: McGill Publication. Retrieved from

Noble, M-A., Leighton, H., & Dale, A. (2020 in press). Stepping toward a sense of place: A choreography between natural and social science. In W. Leal Filho, A. Lange Salvia, & F. Frankenberger (Eds.). Teaching sustainable development. UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Inc.