May 5, 2017

The Great Work - Science, Consciousness, Jurisprudence and Ethics

Course dates:
Monday, 3 July, 2017 to Friday, 7 July, 2017

With Stephan Harding, Sean Kelly, Hal White, and Isabel Carlisle

Critical planetary boundaries are being transgressed and most scientists and thinkers now agree that planet Earth, or Gaia, is potentially in great peril.

Yet the development of a Gaian consciousness and an ecological ethics, informed by Gaia theory and new scientific paradigms, offers us the chance to bring in the Ecozoic Era as foretold by Thomas Berry as a period when ‘humans would dwell upon the Earth in a mutually enhancing manner'. This era would be brought into being by what Thomas Berry called the Great Work - the bringing together of the stories of community, Earth and the Universe - preventing the widespread ecocide that has been so long feared.

Join leading theorists in Conscious Evolution, Depth Ecology, Gaia Theory, Metalaw, and Earth Jurisprudence to help advance a new synthesis from which this Great Work can be accomplished in practice as well as in theory.

This course will explore the scientific basis of Gaia theory in the context of its implications for the evolution of human consciousness. It will examine how a change in consciousness, or "metanoia," can bring about a healthy and sustainable form of human industry and human civilization, the "Great Work" of the 21st Century. How does thinking of our planet as a living entity affect our relationship to the natural world? How can understanding the deep, sensitive interdependence of all life and of nature influence our science, ethics, and jurisprudence so as to forward the hopeful outcome we seek?

These issues will be discussed and engaged from philosophical, psychological, scientific, legal, artistic, and mythopoeic perspectives. We will look at Joseph Campbell's call for the development of a "planetary mythology," similar to Thomas Berry's "Dream of the Earth," to a call for an Earth Jurisprudence grounded in a cosmic Great Jurisprudence or ecological "Metalaw." Along with teachings and dialogue, this course will include practices of direct experiential engagement, including the Deep Time Walk and exercises from Joanna Macy's "Work that Reconnects".

A special feature will be Sean's introduction of the class to a simple but powerful kind of standing meditation/qigong, adapted from his taiji and yiquan practice, as a way of grounding in, and resonating with, the larger body-mind of Gaia. This experiential approach will be supported by Isabel's unique approach to a "Council of All Beings."

Related Academic Program

Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness, Faculty News

Related News

Stay Connected to CIIS