Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Radical Nature: An exploration of Holism

Radical Nature: An exploration of Holism

Dragon Fly Wing
Key Info: 
  • Immersive inquiry
  • Guided learning experience around the historic Dartington Estate
  • Explore animistic traditions of southern Africa
  • Visit Pagan sites around the College
  • Opportunity for in-depth exploration of radical propositions in science

With Colin Cambell, Stephan Harding, Andy Letcher, Merlin Sheldrake, Rupert Sheldrake and Phoebe Tickell

Fee: 
£ 2 200.00
Course fees include all vegetarian meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions.
The programme will run from Monday of the first week to Friday afternoon the last week, and includes twenty nights private accommodation from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure. This course is an elective on Schumacher College's MA Holistic Science postgraduate programme. It is open to external participants who would like to deeply explore this subject material and can join us for the whole three-week programme.

For over 400 years conventional views of science and nature have prevailed.  But, as we look at the many ecological challenges we now face, isn’t it time we properly considered the alternatives?

During this three-week course students will join the teachers from the extraordinary learning community of Schumacher College and meet inspiring speakers and thinkers including Colin Campbell, Rupert Sheldrake and Merlin Sheldrake.

Students will be taken on carefully guided experiences both indoors and outdoors to explore how synchronistic patterns and events connect us with the deep psyche of the world, with ‘mind in nature’. 

This immersive exploration of holism in science, of mind in nature acknowledges the intelligence of the fungal world and the organising properties of primordial sound.  It reveal the thinking behind ‘morphic resonance’, the radical proposal that memory is the key driver in the evolution and development throughout the world of nature.  It also examines perspectives from the English Pagan tradition and from southern African indigenous worldviews.

This course is an opportunity to foster and integrate direct experiences of mind in nature with rigorous intellectual enquiry based on an integration of experiential practices with recent developments in science and philosophy.

Week One : Stephan Harding and Rupert Sheldrake who explore the unbroken lineage of panpsychist thought (which sees mind and matter as inseparable) beginning with the Orphic tradition, to key philosophers of ancient Greece to more recent versions of this understanding in various contemporary thinkers.  We learn from Rupert about ‘morphic resonance’, his radical proposal that memory is the key driver in the evolution and development throughout the world of nature, and we explore how biology is gradually accumulating evidence that animals, plants, fungi  and single-celled organisms are minds in nature, displaying traits such as feeling and intelligence similar in kind (but not necessarily in intensity) to these qualities in ourselves.

Week Two:  We continue our exploration of mind in nature with Merlin Sheldrake, who will share his expert knowledge of the intelligence of the fungal world and his insights into the organising properties of primordial sound. Also in this week we will explore the astonishing world of symbiosis in nature with Phoebe Tickell, focusing on the relationships between animals and their microbiomes. Also in this week we’ll move into a more experiential mode with Andy Letcher, who will open up perspectives from the English Pagan tradition combined with short pilgrimages to particular sites around Schumacher College and the Dartington Estate to experience how mind in nature can be found in the very landscapes that surround and enfold us.

Week Three: We broaden our experiential enquiry into mind in nature with Colin Campbell with whom we’ll explore how aspects of the shamanic traditions of Southern Africa can help us to encounter the soulful life of nature through carefully guided experiences both indoors and outdoors, revealing how synchronistic patterns and events connect us with the deep psyche of the world.

This course is an elective on our postgraduate programme. It is open to external participants who would like to deeply explore this subject material and can join us for the whole three-week programme.

*The Booking Deadline gives us an accurate idea of course participant numbers at approximately 6 weeks before the course is due to run, at which point we confirm the course, add additional time for people to book on or cancel the course. We encourage people to register early for courses as places are limited.

With Colin Cambell, Stephan Harding, Andy Letcher, Merlin Sheldrake, Rupert Sheldrake and Phoebe Tickell
Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell grew up in rural southeastern Botswana, the son of a renowned anthropologist and a creative healing mother. He is currently a practitioner of traditional African medicine, based in Cape Town, South Africa and the UK. He receives clients from all over the world, and facilitates international group processes relating to natural law, transformation, healing & personal power, sacred sites, and cross-cultural cosmology.

His work bridges major world cities with ancestral homelands and forgotten wilderness, taking him from the Amazon Basin to Los Angeles, the sacred sites of Venda to the urban grit of Johannesburg, and remote Ethiopia to the City of London. Colin co-founded and co-runs a training school in Botswana for traditional doctors and sangomas with his brother Niall Campbell. He is also a lifelong artist and musician, his style once again bridging the traditional with the contemporary, the timeless with the timely, and the sounds of the sacred with the lyricism of electric rocking funk.

Dr Stephan Harding FLS

Stephan Harding

Stephan coordinates and lectures on MSc Holistic Science, teaching on the core models of the programme, as well as on several short courses at the College.  He was born in Venezuela in 1953, and came to England at the age of six.  Since childhood Stephan has had a deep fascination with the natural world which led him to do a degree in Zoology at the University of Durham and then a doctorate on the behavioural ecology of the muntjac deer at Oxford University.  He later returned to Venezuela where he was a field assistant for the Smithsonian Institute, studying mammalian diversity in the rainforest and in the lowland plains. He also spent two years as Visiting Professor in Wildlife Management at the National University in Costa Rica. 

In 1990 Stephan was one of the founding members of Schumacher College where he worked closely with James Lovelock, with whom he has maintained a long-lasting friendship and scientific collaboration.  They were jointly appointmed as founding chair holders of the Arne Naess Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo.  At Schumacher College Stephan has taught alongside many of the world’s leading ecological thinkers and activists, including Arne Naess, Fritjof Capra, Vandana Shiva, David Abram, James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis.

Dr Andy Letcher

Dr Andy Letcher is writer, performer and scholar of religion who began life as an ecologist, completing his D.Phil in Ecology at Oxford University. After a spell as an environmental activist during the 90s, especially during the anti-roads protests, he moved across to the humanities, completing a PhD at King Alfred’s College Winchester. He is an expert on contemporary alternative spiritualities, especially modern Paganism, neo-shamanism and psychedelic spiritualities. A writer known for his critical approach, he is the author of Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom and a range of academic papers on subjects as diverse as fairies, animism, folklore, bardism and Druidry. He wrote the companion volume to The English Magic Tarot. A folk musician, he plays English bagpipes and Dark Age lyre, and for ten years fronted psych-folk band, Telling the Bees.

Merlin Sheldrake

Merlin Sheldrake

Dr Merlin Sheldrake graduated from Cambridge in biological sciences and history and philosophy of science. He recently completed his PhD on the ecology of fungal networks at Cambridge and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, where he conducted extensive fieldwork as a Smithsonian Research Fellow. He is a keen brewer and musician.

Rupert Sheldrake

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.

Phoebe Tickell

Phoebe has a BA in Biological and Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, where she specialised in plant, algae and microbial systems.  She has worked as a research assistant and lab technican at Imperial College London. She finds the biological world fascinating and awe-inspiring, especially by its 'pattern language', and the behaviour of biological networks, communities, symbioses: i.e. the biology of relationships - from the micro to the macro.She is part of various systems-change projects where she puts her understanding of networks, systems and cooperation into practice: Future Farm Lab, which creates learning opportunities and experiments that re-wire the food system, and Enspiral, a de-centralised and DIY social enterprise network. She is also a facilitator of Joanna Macy’s Work That Reconnects.  She speaks Hungarian and Spanish.

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  1. What does a bursary mean to you?
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