Mission: Nature around us is whole and interconnected. Though we are part of nature, we do not yet fathom her depths, and our actions do not embody her wisdom. A fundamental shift in our way of viewing the world is necessary if we would contribute to nature's unity rather than dissolution. At The Nature Institute, we develop new qualitative and holistic approaches to seeing and understanding nature and technology. Through research, publications, and educational programs we work to create a new paradigm that embraces nature's wisdom in shaping a sustainable and healthy future.
Modern science has increasingly moved out of nature and into the laboratory, driven by a desire to find an underlying mechanistic basis of life. Despite all its success, this approach is one-sided and urgently calls for a counterbalancing movement toward nature. Only if we find ways of transforming our propensity to view and control nature in terms of parts and mechanisms, will we be able to see, value, and protect the integrity of nature and the interconnectedness of all things. This demands a contextual way of seeing.
We develop ways of thinking and perception that integrate self-reflective and critical thought, imagination, and careful, detailed observation of nature's phenomena.
Goethe's words stand as a motto for our efforts: “If we want to attain a living understanding of nature, we must become as flexible and mobile as nature herself.”
Who We Are
The Nature Institute, founded in 1998, is a small, independent not-for-profit organization in upstate New York with a proven track record for incisive and thoughtful research studies, publications, and education programs. The Institute serves as a local, national, and international forum for research, education, and the exchange of ideas about the re-visioning of science and technology in an effort to realign humanity with nature. Staff members and adjunct researchers/faculty (see below), have authored books and articles while also speaking at conferences, leading workshops, training teachers, and lecturing widely.
John Gouldthorpe has a background in archetypal psychology. The main thread in his interests today is the relationship between perception, conception, imagination and identity.
Jon McAlice has been active in the international Waldorf school movement for many years as a teacher and lecturer. He has a special interest in the psychology of learning and the senses.
Marisha Plotnik teaches, mentors, and consults in the areas of mathematics and physics at Waldorf schools across the country.
Vladislav Rozentuller is a life-long student of the language of gesture in humans and in nature, and currently teaches drama at the Waldorf school in Göttingen, Germany. He has directed numerous stage productions in Russia, Germany, and the United States.
Nathaniel Williams studied painting and anthroposophy at the neueKUNSTschule in Basel, Switzerland. He is active as an artist and art teacher.
Johannes Wirz is a molecular biologist on the staff of the Research Laboratory at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.
Our Board of Directors
John Barnes, Secretary, is a founding board member, and director of Adonis Press. He edited Nature's Open Secret: Introduction to Goethe's Scientific Writings.
Siral Crane is Administrative Coordinator at Triform Camphill Community in Hudson, New York, and a long-time supporter of The Nature Institute.
Douglas Feick is an artist and designer working directly with the phenomenology of sustainable, integrated living landscapes.
Craig Holdrege, President, is our Director and Senior Researcher.
Henrike Holdrege, founding board member, also serves as Senior Researcher.
Marisha Plotnik (see description above, under Adjunct Researchers/Faculty).
Jan Kees Saltet is an artist and educator living in Hadley, Massachusetts. He teaches art, German, and art history to children and adults at the Hartsbrook School.
Signe Schaefer is Co-Director of the Biography and Social Art Program at Sunbridge College.
Jeffrey Sexton, Treasurer, is an organizational planning consultant.
Douglas Sloan is Emeritus Professor of History and Education at Columbia University and former Director of the Center for the Study of the Spiritual Foundations of Education at Teachers' College (Columbia University).
Nathaniel Williams is an artist and art teacher who lives in Philmont, New York.
Our Advisory Board
Will Brinton, Founder and President of Woods End Laboratories of Mt. Vernon, Maine.
Gertrude Reif Hughes, Professor of English Emerita at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and author of More Radiant Than the Sun: A Handbook for Working with Steiner’s Meditations and Exercises.
Wes Jackson, Founder and President Emeritus of The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, and author of Becoming Native to this Place and Nature as Measure.
Andrew Kimbrell, Founder and Executive Director of both the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C., and the International Center for Technology Assessment in San Francisco, and editor of Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture.
Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, an organic family farmer, and author of Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher.
Johannes Kühl, Physicist, Leader of the Natural Science Section of the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, and author of Rainbows, Halos, Dawn, and Dusk: The Appearance of Color in the Atmosphere and Goethe's Theory of Color.
George Russell, Professor Emeritus of Biology at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, Founding Co-Editor of Orion magazine, and editor of Children and Nature: Making Connections.
Langdon Winner, Professor of Political Science in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, author of Autonomous Technology and The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology, and editor of Democracy in a Technological Society.
Arthur Zajonc, Emeritus Professor of Physics at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, former President of the Mind & Life Institute, author of Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind, and co-author of The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal.
Evolving Science Association
In 2016 The Myrin Institute of Great Barrington, Massachusetts (http://myrin.org), and The Nature Institute joined forces in a new, collaborative enterprise called the Evolving Science Association. The organizations have jointly resolved to
promote holistic scientific practice that is receptive to the manifold voices of nature in all their variety. Such an evolution of science involves the development of human capacities through which we discover ourselves in nature and nature in ourselves. This enables us to rise above both materialism and the temptation to treat natural phenomena merely as occasions for manipulation. Building on the achievements of both organizations and the synergies of collaboration, the Association aims to strengthen the foundations of holistic knowing and to expand its reach into broader culture.
The Myrin Institute, the original publisher of Orion, is a nonprofit organization founded in 1953 by H. A. W. Myrin, an international businessman and humanitarian, and Franz E. Winkler, a physician and author. It began as a forum in which scientists, educators, political leaders, economists, and religious leaders could exchange views on matters of current interest and offer constructive criticism of each others’ initiatives. Its current activities are rooted in the belief that “a genuine reconciliation of the modern scientific attitude with a spiritual world concept is by far the most essential need of modern man. Such a reconciliation will open the way for a philosophy of human freedom which is the safest protection against destructive ideologies and our only valid hope for lasting peace.”
The Evolving Science Association will, among other things, pursue publications, conferences, fundamental research, and the training of young researchers. Program decisions will be made by the four members of the Association. The members from the Myrin Institute are George Russell, an emeritus professor of biology with forty-five years of teaching experience at Adelphi University on Long Island, New York, and Mark Gardner, an independent researcher and student of the history and philosophy of science. The Nature Institute is represented by its director, Craig Holdrege, and senior researcher Stephen L. Talbott.
Recent projects in which the Association participated include:
- The 2016 week-long summer workshop at The Nature Institute, entitled “Tending the Roots of Sustainability: The Significance of Experience-Based Learning and Our Responsibility to Children and the Earth”.
- The new “Educating for Sustainability” resource on The Nature Institute’s website.
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