2015 was a growth year for Burning Man education programs, marked by an expanded calendar of educational events, a growing catalog of education materials, and the activation of the Philosophical Center.

In April, we hosted our Ninth Annual Global Leadership Conference in San Francisco, convening over 350 community leaders and Regional Contacts from around the world for four days of co-learning and network-building with each other, other civic and artistic leaders, and Burning Man staff. Featuring a keynote address by seven-term U.S. Congressman (and avid Burner) Dennis Kucinich, the conference offered 35 skill-building sessions related to event production and safety, organizational development, civic activation, and leadership development.

Leadership development opportunities expanded across the Network this year. We hosted our Second Annual European Leadership Summit in Amsterdam, bringing together 110 Regional Contacts and community leaders from 25 countries. The first Asian Burner Leadership Summit took place in Taiwan and the Second Annual Southeast Leadership Roundtable was hosted in Atlanta, Georgia. These gatherings offered ways for year-round volunteers to level up their skills and discuss their plans for the future.

Growing global interest in Burning Man culture was reflected in the continued growth of speaker requests. In 2015, we received 106 requests for representatives from Burning Man to speak at a variety of engagements on topics ranging from placemaking and civic arts to leadership and project management.

Highlights included:

  • Larry Harvey’s speech at the British Library’s permanent outdoor installation, and the unveiling of David Normal’s Burning Man 2014 light box artwork titled “Crossroads of Curiosity.”
  • Crimson Rose’s appearance at the renowned ArtPrize international art competition in Michigan.
  • Harley K. Dubois’ talk at the “Growing Cities” themed RISING Architecture week in Copenhagen.
  • Larry was a guest of honor and speaker at Design Idaba’s 20th anniversary in Cape Town, South Africa.

Improvements to our documentation process and creation of a year-round volunteer documentation team led to the release of a large and growing catalog of public education videos chronicling our culture. By year’s end, the Burning Man YouTube channel featured nearly 100 titles with 1 million views.

And on the playa, the Black Rock Scouts youth education program, now in its fifth year, led Burner kids on over a dozen learning adventures, ranging from lamplighting and astronomy to working with the BLM Rangers.

Students from the University of Westminster, the California Institute for Integral Studies, and Finland’s Aalto University pursued learning projects in Black Rock City. The participant-produced TEDx BRC program enjoyed its fifth year of on-playa presentations with a full day’s program, including talks by Burning Man founders Harley Dubois and Crimson Rose.