IHE’s History

For more than 30 years, IHE’s president and co-founder, Zoe Weil, has empowered people of all ages to build a more just, healthy, and peaceful world. 

After many years of teaching young people about global ethical issues and inspiring them to become effective changemakers, Zoe and co-founder Rae Sikora launched the Center for Compassionate Living (CCL) in 1996 in Surry, ME. The organization was unique in bringing together human rights, environmental sustainability, and animal protection issues. CCL offered preparation and certification for people wishing to become humane educators, creating and building the field of comprehensive humane education.

CCL developed its groundbreaking Humane Education Certificate Program in 1997. Three years later, the organization affiliated with Cambridge College to offer the first M.Ed. program in humane education in the United States. CCL became the Institute for Humane Education (IHE) to better reflect its programs and focus.

From 2011-2019, IHE was affiliated with Valparaiso University and expanded its offerings to include an online M.Ed., M.A., M.A.L.S., and Graduate Certificate in Humane Education. In 2013, IHE partnered with Saybrook University to enable students who wished to pursue a Ph.D. through Saybrook to specialize in humane education.

Currently, IHE is affiliated with Antioch University New England and offers several graduate program options. (More information here) 

In 2015, IHE began developing a solutionary process to help schools integrate solutionary learning and practices into existing curricula. Currently, IHE’s solutionary approach is being utilized by hundreds of teachers and is serving as the philosophy and framework for San Mateo County, CA, which serves 113,000 students in 23 school districts between San Francisco and Palo Alto.

IHE has also been offering its acclaimed workshops since its inception, and continues to expand its award-winning online resource center.

“We look forward to the day when humane education is so deeply embedded in schooling and learning that it will simply be known as “education,” and schools will, as a matter of course, prepare students to be solutionaries who bring their knowledge and skills to bear to solve the challenges we face in ways that are good for all.” 

~ Zoe Weil

Key Accomplishments

1997: IHE launches the first certificate program in comprehensive humane education in the U.S. 

2000: IHE affiliates with Cambridge College to offer the first M.Ed. in comprehensive humane education in the U.S.

2003: The first student graduates from IHE’s M.Ed. program, completing a degree concentration in humane education that remains unique to this day.

2009: IHE’s online Humane Education Resource Center receives the Social Psychology Network Action Teaching Award honorable mention. 

2010: Zoe Weil gives her first TEDx talk, “The World Becomes What You Teach,” which becomes among the 50 top-rated and most-watched TEDx talks within a year, helping IHE reach a much bigger audience and advancing the goal of educating a generation of solutionaries.

2010: Zoe Weil’s book, Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life, receives the Nautilus silver medal-winner award.

2011: IHE affiliates with Valparaiso University and expands its offerings to include an M.Ed., M.A., M.A.L.S., and Graduate Certificate in Humane Education.

2013: IHE partners with the Jane Goodall Institute and HEART to offer the first comprehensive Humane Education conference. The event sells out before the early registration deadline, necessitating a bigger venue at New York University. 

2016: Zoe Weil’s book, The World Becomes What We Teach: Educating a Generation of Solutionaries, is published and becomes required reading in a variety of universities preparing students to be teachers.

2017: IHE hosts the first regional Solutionary Summit showcasing the work of middle and high school students in Maine who’ve participated in the Solutionary Program pilot.

2018: IHE holds the second regional Solutionary Summit with middle and high school students solving real-world problems.

2018-2019: San Mateo County, CA, serving 113,000 students in 23 school districts, adopts IHE’s solutionary approach as the philosophy and framework for curriculum design and professional development, utilizing Zoe’s book, The World Becomes What We Teach: Educating a Generation of Solutionaries, as the text for teachers.

2019: IHE produces a free, digital Solutionary Guidebook for use by educators and activists across the globe.

2020: IHE affiliates with Antioch University New England to offer graduate and doctoral programs.