Bio (Hilary Leighton)

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Hilary Leighton

Hilary Leighton


Associate Professor, Program Head


Environment and Sustainability


Dr. Hilary Leighton is associate professor and program head for the Master of Arts in Environmental Education and Communication program, and program head for the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Community Development program in the School of Environment and Sustainability. Formerly the founding director of Professional & Continuing Studies, for over a decade she worked with world-renowned teachers and speakers to create innovative and leading edge offerings in which students of all ages and stages could find access to lifelong learning.

Her current research and teaching focuses on deep adaptation — specifically human change for climate change — using arts-and nature-based methods for a full range of expression inside and outside the classroom to facilitate shifts in consciousness.  She remains keen to find deeply imaginative ways to get to the heart of things — how memories, beliefs, identity and values help cultivate individual and collective behaviours that may also allow us to thrive even in difficult and dark times. Whole-person, embedded and place-responsive education framed by systems science and shaped out of respect and compassion for the animate and more-than-human world, is the heart and soul of Leighton’s creative, discovery-inspired, interdisciplinary curricula. She believes this approach acts as essential medicine for maturation and human development, reclamation and embodiment of our own wild, true natures in relationship with nature, and a more sane and healthy coexistence for all.  


A lifelong apprentice to nature and psyche, Leighton is an educator and eco-psychotherapist who draws wisdom from eco-psychology, depth psychology, integral systems thinking, mythology, Indigenous and embodied, nature- and arts-based practices, literature, the mytho-poetic and deep play. Leighton reflects the ethical dilemma, suffering and loss of our relationships with wildness, and the re-embracing of learning as an initiation toward wholeness, maturation and a deeper, more soulful way of belonging to the world. She is a registered clinical counsellor in BC, a member of the Canadian Network of Environmental Education and Communication, founding director of Continuing Studies, and a founding director of the Child Nature Alliance.


Leighton holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Victoria (2014), a Master of Education in Curriculum and Education from Simon Fraser University (2004), an Integrative Body Psychotherapy Certification, and is a Myers-Briggs Certified Instructor. She is a recipient of the University of Victoria Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship Award (2013).