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Western Science and Traditional Ways of Knowing - Closing The Gap


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Course dates: 
Monday, 3 October, 2016 to Friday, 7 October, 2016

With David Peat (Skype), Pat McCabe, Stephan Harding and Philip Franses

How do we come to know reality?

On the one hand, we have Western Science – a methodology that is based on reductionism, measurement of parts and the assumption that human intelligence, experienced through human faculties and senses, is the highest appraisal of the reality in which we live and operate. This way of knowing has indeed led us as a species to remarkable accomplishments, but has also had many unforeseen and negative consequences on the earth and human society.

On the other hand, we have what some have termed ‘native science’ – traditional ways of knowing that have evolved in indigenous human societies for thousands of years. These tend to be more relational ways of experiencing the universe, from within an interconnected and continuously evolving web of life within which everything is a living phenomenon. This type of knowing acknowledges that we, as human beings, may never be able to know everything about the reality in which we live and operate.

What can we learn from both these ways of knowing? How do we decide what is reality, what is fact? How does this affect us as individuals and communities and what does this mean for our sustainability and happiness as a species? In this week-long course we explore how we might incorporate both paradigms into our lives – how both ways of knowing fit together into an expanded ‘holistic science’ that is better equipped to deal with the complex interdependencies between humans and the social and natural world.

Contributors to this course will include our Holistic Science faculty and other guests who bridge the gap between western and ‘native science’ as we look at recent developments in areas such as quantum physics, complexity and systems theory, phenomenology and subjective inquiry in order to come to an holistic understanding of the world and our place within it.  

Expect a mix of theory, experiential work, discussion and story.


F. David Peat

A theoretical physicist, David Peat became a friend and colleague of David Bohm. They co-authored “Science, Order and Creativity” and were working on a second book “The Order Between and Beyond” at the time of Bohm’s death.

In 1996 Peat moved to the medieval village of Pari in Tuscany where he created the Pari Center for New Learning. The center has run a number of international conferences and was three times winner of the Metanexus Prize for Excellence in Programming. With Leroy Little Bear, David organised a series of dialogues between Native American Elders and Western Scientists.

David is the author of over twenty books, including “Blackfoot Physics: a journey into the Native American universe”. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the SARCHI chair, University of South Africa, a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, Honorary Member of the Scientific Committee of the Club of Budapest and Adjunct Professor, California Institute of Integral Studies

Pat McCabe (Standing Woman Shining)

Woman Stands Shining, Pat McCabe, has the honor of being of the Dine (Navajo) Nation. A Life-Bringer, Life-Bearer Mother, writer, artist, activist, speaker and cultural liason, her work is driven by the study of the Science of Right Relations. Moving from the central knowledge that We, The Five-Fingered-Ones, are born into Beauty, as Beauty, for Joyful Life, she brings the understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing into discussion and inquiry on Sustainability. Born to a People who have deep understanding and methodology for Restoration, she carries the Beauty Way into places where it has formerly been kept out. She is an active participant in Indigenous Peoples gatherings worldwide most recently in Chile, Belgium, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Bali. She has worked with the International Center for Cultural Studies in India and with Sarvodaya with Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne in Sri Lanka, as well as with organizations and gatherings in the U.S. Her recent work includes being a cultural consultant to the Pachamama Alliance, Inner Circle Invitee to the Language of Spirit Dialogue - Dialogue between Quantum Physicists, Linguists, Scientists and Indigenous knowledge keepers. Upcoming work includes the AUM National gathering, Women's teachings In Chile, and work with Israeli and Palestinian women.

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 on most short courses at the College. He holds a doctorate in behavioural ecology from Oxford University, and before coming to the college taught ecology at the National University in Costa Rica. 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. Click here to read his full staff profile >>

Philip Franses

Philip joined the MSc in Holistic Science Faculty as teacher of complexity. Born in 1958 in England, Philip studied mathematics at New College Oxford from 1976 to 1980. Academia’s dull explanation of the world inspired Philip on a counter-journey into the depths of experience, travelling and a re-sensitisation to quality. In 2005, after a fifteen-year career designing intelligent software, culminating in a programme now used in The Netherlands by all Dutch courts, Philip had a chance encounter with Satish Kumar and was moved to come to Schumacher as an MSc student. Philip began and edits the Holistic Science Journal (link is external). He is also the convener of a successful inquiry forum called Process and Pilgrimage (link is external) and is the author of Time, Light and the Dice of Creation (link is external): Through Paradox in Physics to a New Order.

£ 620.00
Course fees include private accommodation, all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions. The programme will run from Monday to Friday afternoon, and includes four nights private accommodation and all vegetarian meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure. This course will take place as part of our Becoming Indigenous Programme.