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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?

* “Plants and the Living Earth” (February 7 – 12, 2016) — a course for farmers, gardeners, educators, and apprentices at The Nature Institute, in collaboration with Hawthorne Valley Farm and the Biodynamic Association of North America.

* In Context #34 is now available! Read about our summer trip to the Amazon, the qualitative assessment of agricultural soils, and the frog as a Being-at-Work-Staying-Itself.

* Read Bruno Follador’s new article, “The Creature That Has Never Been,” part of our Living Soils project.

* Where Do Intelligence and Wisdom Reside? We see nothing but an almost unsurveyable wisdom in the organism. Does that wisdom need explaining, or is it what explains?

* In his new article, Manipulating the Genome of Human Embryos: Some Unforeseen Effects, Craig Holdrege looks at the recent, controversial experiments in China to “edit” the genome of human embryos.

Visit our Calendar of Events to learn about upcoming events.

Join our mailing list:

You'll receive our twice-yearly, free magazine, In Context, and occasional brief notices about courses, events, and other publications. Just send an email to asking to be kept informed, and please include your postal address to receive In Context by mail, if you live in the U.S. International readers and others who prefer email only will receive email links to new 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 entitled, Biology 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.”

wheat plants

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 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.

Book cover of “Thinking Like a Plant”

Commemorating Henri Bortoft’s Life.

The Holistic Science Journal (for which Nature Institute director, Craig Holdrege, is a contributing editor) has put out a special “Dynamic Wholeness” issue, celebrating and commenting on the life work of the late Henri Bortoft. Bortoft was a leading student of Goethe’s scientific methods and an effective elucidator of wholeness in nature. Readers may also be interested in a brief personal appreciation of Henri by Craig in In Context #29. (Go to p. 9 after clicking on the link.)

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.

sloth in tree

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 Dilemma)

“Beyond Biotechnology” book cover

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.

The Work of Martin Wagenschein

The Nature Institute has translated some of the writings of the German science educator and physicist Martin Wagenschein. To read about Wagenschein and to access the translations, click here.

How Shall We Live?

The way we experience ourselves in the world - our habits of perception and the relation between our sense of Self and sense of the Other - are decisively important for everything from the achievement of a truly adequate science to the restoration of social health to the establishment of an environmentally responsible ethics. Human progress in all fields depends upon how we engage the phenomena around us. This is why the book Being on Earth: Practice In Tending the Appearances, a full-text, online document, is so important. Written by physicist Georg Maier, the late philosopher Ronald Brady, and the late physicist Stephen Edelglass, it explores what it means for us to be on earth as knowers, as participants in earth's various ecological settings, and in company with one another. The book breaks down the barriers between fact and value, between science and aesthetics.

Being on Earth is now also available as a 196-page softcover paperback from Logos Verlag in Berlin. The price is 40.5 euros (approximately 63 US dollars). You can order the book over the internet by clicking here.

book cover of “The Giraffe’s Long Neck”

A Thought-Provoking Publication

The Giraffe's 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, click here.

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