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Mind in Nature - 3 linked courses

21 January – 8 February, 2013

This course is open for bookings – for one, two or three weeks

Teachers: Rupert Sheldrake, Nora Bateson, David Rothenberg, Stephan Harding and Philip Franses

For the last 200 years, we have been taught that nature is a mere machine, without consciousness, purpose or meaning. This view has led to a devastating destruction of life on earth. Today’s emerging science is turning this understanding on its head, revealing life as inherently intelligent, purposive and meaningfully communicative. According to this science, there really is mind in nature.

Examine and experience the concept of ‘Mind in Nature’ through the work of Rupert Sheldrake, Gregory Bateson, David Rothenberg and others in these three linked short-courses.

Each week is available to take separately or you can come for the full three-week intensive. You will be joined by a number of students from the Schumacher College Masters Programme which will allow for rich interaction between students and participants.

Week One

21 -25 January Mind in nature – the evidence

Teachers: Rupert Sheldrake and Stephan Harding

Are our minds trapped within our physical bodies as a by-product of our brains? Or is it possible for us to experience a greater mind located beyond ourselves in the world around us? These are some of the questions that will come up during this week with Rupert Sheldrake and Stephan Harding, who will introduce the concept of ‘Mind in Nature’.

Taking conventional science as a starting point, both Rupert and Stephan will consider whether it is possible for nature to have an underlying mental aspect, or whether, as the materialist view insists, our world is nothing more than a complex aggregation of mindless matter. They will look at the scientific evidence supporting the concept of ‘nature’s mind’ and lead participants on a participatory journey to experience it directly.

Rupert will share evidence from his latest ground-breaking research with humans and animals which suggests that the mind of an individual reaches out into the world beyond its physical body to influence the collective memory of its kind through the process of morphic resonance. He will also explore the implications of his radical discoveries for both science and society.

Stephan will describe the rigorous quantitative methodologies used at Schumacher College to investigate whether there is objective validity to the qualities or ‘minds’ in landscapes that we perceive through our intuitive faculties. Then, using James Lovelock’s Gaia theory, he will extend the investigation by asking whether we can experience the ancient mind of the Earth during a Deep Time walk along the beautiful South Devon coastline. Finally, he will use the deep ecology approach of Arne Naess to explore the implications for our daily life of connecting with the mind of nature.

This course is for anyone interested in understanding nature not as a detached observer, but through a rich, meaningful and participatory sense of connection.

Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake is one of the world’s most innovative biologists and writers, and is best known for his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance, which leads to a vision of a living, developing universe with its own inherent memory.

He worked in developmental biology at Cambridge University, where he was a Fellow of Clare College. He was then Principal Plant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in Hyderabad, India. From 2005 to 2010 he was Director of the Perrott-Warrick project, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge.

Stephan Harding

Stephan Harding is Programme Coordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science and resident Ecologist at Schumacher College teaching on the MSc core modules and as part of several of the short courses at the College. He is a close associate of James Lovelock and an expert in the study of Gaia theory and deep ecology. He is the author of Animate Earth and Grow Small, Think Beautiful: Ideas for a Sustainable World from Schumacher College.

Week Two

28 January – 1 FebruaryThe Language of Nature – communication beyond words

Teachers: Nora Bateson and Philip Franses

Our place and our meaning in the world are constantly being communicated by the natural world around us – the context within which we evolve and live. But in this age of fast-paced, cut-down, often electronic, communication, we struggle to hear, see or feel these signals. We are left feeling ever more disconnected from what we might consider our ‘true purpose’ and instead place all our focus on increasingly reductionist ways of using a human language that is based on the assumption that we are the only ones who have been able to develop an intelligent system of interaction.

This course offers the chance to open yourself to alternative ways of communication that can transform the way you relate to others and to the natural world. It will give you a new openness, an additional capacity for communicating the meaning of what you are doing in the world and an increased receptivity to the messages of others.

This course is for all those who wish to overcome communication obstacles in their work and life, with other humans and with the natural world around them.

If we don’t know the language of nature, how can we join the conversation?

Nora Bateson

Nora Bateson is the daughter of anthropologist and philosopher Gregory Bateson who pioneered the idea that communication is the ever-present natural force that allows a dynamic and ever-changing understanding of meaning for living beings. In her film, An Ecology of Mind, Nora investigates the human communication between her and her father within the context of a wider communication with nature. Through the film, and personal reflection on her life with Gregory, she shows how his work continues to be hugely important for all of us today.

Click here >> for a recent interview with Nora Bateson

Philip Franses

Philip worked with the late Brian Goodwin here at the College on the use of language as a tool for interpreting and drawing meaning from the world. He will show how all of life, from individual genes to humans themselves, make use of their ability to communicate with each other and the world around them to live grounded and meaningful lives.

Philip Frances lectures on the MSc in Holistic Science as teacher of complexity.

Click here to read his full staff profile >>

Week 3

4-8 FebruaryThe Music of Nature

David Rothenberg will lead a five day course on how you can discover and interact with the music of nature.

From the sounds of wind, water, and sea to the music made by birds, whales, and insects, Rothenberg has travelled the globe listening for a music older than any made by humans alone, and spent years interacting with such sounds live and in the studio.

This course is for all those who would like to explore what music means when expanded into the more-than-human world. No musical experience is required – musicians, composers, performers, and listeners are all welcome.

David Rothenberg

Philosopher and musician David Rothenberg began his career as assistant to ecophilosopher Arne Naess, and he wrote a series of dialogues with Naess called Is It Painful to Think? In recent years he has focused on the cultural side of ecological philosophy, investigating how art and music find their roots and fullest expression in close contact with the natural world.

Rothenberg is the author of Why Birds Sing, also published in Italy, Spain, Taiwan, China, Korea, and Germany. It was turned into a feature length BBC TV documentary. Rothenberg has also written Sudden Music, Always the Mountains, and Thousand Mile Song, about making music live with whales. Rothenberg has seven CDs out under his own name, including the ECM release One Dark Night I Left My Silent House. His latest book is Survival of the Beautiful, on aesthetics in evolution. In 2011 he has released CDs with Lewis Porter and with Scanner. His next book Bug Music appears in 2013. Rothenberg is professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Course Fees

Any One week £750
Any Two weeks £1,400 (Save £100 over weekly course price)
Three weeks £2100 (Save £150)

For further information about Schumacher College please see About the College

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Click here to book this course via our on-line booking system >>

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Reserve your place now

To provisionally reserve a place for 5 days, email us your contact details and the name of the course

We will hold the place for five working days for reservations – three weeks before a course or earlier. After five days we will automatically offer your place to someone else if we have not received your application.

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Schumacher College is part of the Dartington Hall Trust, a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and as a charity (company no. 1485560, charity no. 279756). Registered office: The Elmhirst Centre, Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EL, United Kingdom