The Nature Institute
Viewing Nature, Science,
and Technology in Context
“The question is not what you look at — but
how you look and whether you see.” - Thoreau
Welcome! We hope our
publications and education programs inspire you
with fresh and radical perspectives on nature, science, and technology.
What’s The Latest?
The fall issue of In Context is now available!
You will find articles about the great American dustbowl, a founder of the
environmental movement, what it means for organisms to be self-moving, and
Read the newsletter.
2017 Fellowship Opportunity at The Nature Institute
— for those who want to deepen their engagement with a scientific
practice that is contextual, qualitative, holistic, and experience-based.
Read our announcement.
Developing a Qualitative Understanding of Nature: Animals, Humanity and
— our winter course for farmers, apprentices, and educators will be held
February 12 – 17. For details, see our
winter course page.
Updates from Our Unintended Effects of Genetic Manipulation Project
— Read about the latest findings on unintended consequences of genetic
engineering. Our browsable and searchable database also tracks such
reports, mostly peer-reviewed, back to 2008.
Can Darwinian Evolutionary Theory Be Taken Seriously?
The question has dimensions rarely considered in public discussion, and
these have grave implications for conventional theory.
Visit our Calendar of Events
to learn about upcoming events.
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issues of In Context.
Biology Worthy of Life
The revolution now taking shape in the world’s molecular biology labs may
not yet be common public knowledge, but it is transforming scientists’
thinking about genetics and the organism as a whole. Researchers have
been discovering that it makes much more sense to say that the organism is
in charge of its genes, than to put it the other way around. For
commentaries on our shifting understanding of organisms at the molecular
level, see the continuing series of articles by Stephen L. Talbott
Worthy of Life. Steve’s more recent contributions to the series
tackle some of the central controversies surrounding evolution. Also,
Steve has established a portal page
(along with an RSS feed
for those familiar with such things) for introducing all his new writings.
And, finally, there is a new
topical index for convenient access
to all the content of “Biology Worthy of Life.”
Living Soils Project
Visit Living Soils home page
Soil health is bound up with the dynamics of the whole farm organism,
which includes the inner perspectives of the farmers. In this new
initiative, we strive to foster not only a shift in agricultural
practices, but also a shift in human consciousness, out of which new ways
of interacting with nature in agriculture can develop. Our goal is to help
farmers cultivate dynamic ways of seeing and understanding that can be
concretely applied on farms, especially in composting. We provide on-farm
consultations, qualitative soil and compost testing, workshops, and
Unintended Effects of Genetic Manipulation
This Nature Institute project documents over 100 cases of
unintended and unpredictable effects of genetic engineering on organisms
and the environment. Our nontarget.org website makes important scientific
research about unintended effects accessible to the broader public. It
provides crucial information needed for an informed debate concerning
genetic engineering in agriculture and genetically modified food.
Craig’s latest book
Who would imagine that plants can become master teachers of a radical new
way of seeing and interacting with the world? Plants are dynamic and
resilient, living in intimate connection with their environment. This
book presents an organic way of knowing modeled after the way plants live.
Details available in our bookstore.
What Does it Mean to be a Sloth?
This article by Craig Holdrege paints a vivid picture of the sloth —
a remarkable animal that expresses slowness in so many of its
characteristics and even slows down processes in the rain forest in which
it lives. Originally published in 1998, this article, can now be read in
revised form on our website. Enjoy getting to know this remarkable
creature. And maybe it will even help you slow down in our hectic times!
Read the article.
A Book from Nature Institute Staff
“Craig Holdrege and Steve Talbott’s analysis of genetic engineering is the
smartest, most original, and most compelling I have seen anywhere, in
journalism or academia.” (Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's
Published by the University Press of Kentucky, Beyond Biotechnology:
The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering is in the Press' “Culture of
the Land” series, whose editorial advisors include Wendell Berry, Bill
McKibben, Wes Jackson, Vandana Shiva, and others. As Sheldon Krimsky
(Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University) describes
the book, “The authors offer a refreshing style of scientific
interpretation and have brought the discussion of the issues to a new
level by making excellent use of current scientific findings that disclose
how genes operate in vivo and by drawing on bioethical discussions.”
Here’s where you can
learn more about
the book and order it.
A Thought-Provoking Publication
Long Neck: From Evolutionary Fable to Whole Organism
by Craig Holdrege
A fresh look at the giraffe and evolution. To find out more about this book,