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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 to our website! We hope you will be led by this website to fresh and radical perspectives on nature, science, and technology.

What’s The Latest?

Read a review of Craig Holdrege’s Thinking Like a Plant by Jacqueline Bortoft in the Holistic Science Journal.

The widespread planting of genetically modified, herbicide-resistant crops — with the concomitant increased use of the herbicide glyphosate — is having significant unintended effects. Read more here.

Our spring and summer calendar is now available. You’ll find presentations on topics ranging from evolution to astronomy to composting to social transformation to human embryology.

Thinking Like a Plant — Craig’s new book about how the “thoughtful” world of plants can inform our own thinking is now available at the Institute’s bookstore.

Visit our Calendar of Events to learn about 2014 events.

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.”

Unintended Effects of Genetic Manipulation


This Nature Institute project documents over 80 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.

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 the latest issue of our In Context newsletter. (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! Click here.

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)

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."

To find out more about this book or to order it, click here.

The Work of Martin Wagenschein: The Nature Institute is translating some of the writings of the German science educator and physicist Martin Wagenschein. To read about Wagenschein and to access the translations we have done so far, 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.

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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