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?
2019 Winter Course: “The
Nature of Animals and Developing Dynamic
Join us from February 17 – 21 as we give our attention to the
animals and ask: What are their unique ways of being in the world? What do
they bring to our lives and what can we bring to theirs? And how can we
develop capacities of observation and thinking that allow us to know the
world more truly? Find out more about the course and sign-up
A lecture and two workshops —
Our next Mathematics Alive! workshop will be held the weekend of March 29
– 31 (Friday evening through Sunday noon). The topic is “Negative numbers
and linear equations.” You will find a full description
And then on the weekend of April 12 – 14, water expert Jennifer Greene
will give a Friday evening talk followed by a Saturday – Sunday workshop.
See our calendar page.
A New Video: “Where Does an Animal
End? The American Bison”
In September, Craig gave a talk with slides at The Nature Institute on the
American Bison. In his presentation, he shared the fruits of his many
years of research into this fascinating animal: its physical constitution,
its relationship to its ecosystem, its life as an individual and as part
of a herd, and its relationship to Native Americans. Through a close look
at the American Bison, Craig sheds light more generally on the boundaries
of what makes an animal an animal, and how the demarcations aren’t as
clear as we might expect. You can view the video
Our 40th issue of In Context is
— check it out for its articles on diverse topics, including the
bighorn sheep of Yellowstone National Park, our encounter with
institutionalized dogmatism in the biological sciences, the nature of
goal-directed organic activity, the “miracles” of life, and of course news
from the Institute. You will find the issue
Starting our next
Foundation Course in Goethean Science, June 2019
— This year-long, low-residency program gives a grounding in Goethe’s
“delicate empiricism,” a holistic and contextual approach to encountering
and understanding nature. The course begins with a two-week intensive at
the Institute in June, 2019, and concludes with a second two-week
intensive in summer 2020. During the year between, participants will be
mentored in their own research and practice, and will also share ongoing
study. The deadline to apply is February 15, 2019. More details available
Visit our Calendar of Events
to learn about upcoming events.
Join our mailing list:
You'll receive our twice-yearly, free magazine,
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
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 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 the 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,