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?
Two of Craig's recent talks now online —
we’ve uploaded two of Craig’s presentations from this past fall to our
The first — “Where Do We Come From? The Question of Origins and Ancestors”
— was given in late October to a packed house at The Nature Institute.
The second — “Giving Living Beings a Voice” — was a presentation he
delivered in November at a conference in Toronto on Synthetic Biology.
Both are insightful and thought-provoking. Enjoy!
Phenomena Speak!” — You can now read about our 2018 Summer
Intensive, June 24 – 28. The course, which is a contribution to
sustainability education, will encourage the cultivation of careful
observation and sensitive description of natural phenomena. Please check
In Context #38
is here! — and you can now explore it. Read about the problems
with intelligent design theory, or about an anomalous flower, or about a
cross-continent, teaching journey through Australia, and other activities
by Nature Institute staff. It’s all
and the Nature of Things” — a new, year-long program consisting of
two-week residential intensives in July 2018 and July 2019, with guided
study and practice during the year. You will find further information
2018 Winter Course: “Plants and the Living Earth” — an
intensive, week-long workshop for farmers, gardeners, apprentices, and
educators, led by Craig Holdrege, Henrike Holdrege, and Bruno Follador.
Registration is now open. You will find further information
Diversity in Human Fossil History — a new teaching kit on
human evolution, prepared by Craig Holdrege. The kit is designed
to bring evolutionary teaching into closer correspondence with the
available evidences, which are never as neat as the textbook theories
might suggest. The kit is described and made available
Do Frogs Come from Tadpoles? Rethinking Origins in Development and
Evolution — Craig Holdrege’s new Nature Institute Perspectives
booklet on the stunning development and metamorphosis of the frog,
together with an elucidation of the puzzles of its evolutionary
development. The booklet is 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.”
Living Soils Project
Visit Living Soils home page
Soil health is bound up with the dynamics of the whole farm organism,
which includes the inner perspectives of the farmers. In this new
initiative, we strive to foster not only a shift in agricultural
practices, but also a shift in human consciousness, out of which new ways
of interacting with nature in agriculture can develop. Our goal is to help
farmers cultivate dynamic ways of seeing and understanding that can be
concretely applied on farms, especially in composting. We provide on-farm
consultations, qualitative soil and compost testing, workshops, and
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,