May 2018, Gaia and Symbiosis short course, Schumacher College (UK)
(Teaching alongside Stephan Harding and Merlin Sheldrake)
As the ecological crisis gathers pace, there is an urgent need to develop ecological ways of living that are relevant for our times.
Ecology is the study of life’s relationships between Earth’s diverse organisms, rocks, atmosphere and waters. It is these relationships that constitute Gaia: our self-regulating, living Earth which has been hospitable for life over billions of years.
Symbiosis, the intimate living together of vastly different organisms, has been a key component in life’s long evolutionary journey, to the extent that Gaia has been characterised as ‘symbiosis seen from space’. In this course, we ask what we can learn from both Gaia and the sciences of symbiosis that might help us to effectively navigate our way through the current crises.
This short course will introduce you to the details of some of the most striking symbiotic relationships in the biosphere, including an exploration of the bacterial and fungal symbioses which are so critical for the health of our planet. We’ll explore the principles of Gaian self-regulation, and will discover how symbiosis has made hugely important contributions to the creation and maintenance of a liveable Earth both today and over geological time. We’ll consider how a deep understanding of Gaia and symbiosis impacts ourethics and philosophy, our social organisations, our politics, our responses to climate change and even theways in which taxes are collected and distributed.
The course is for both scientists and non-scientists who want to learn what the latest scientific understanding about the living dynamics of our planet can teach us about how we can best deal with climate change, biodiversity loss and social disruption, and about how nature can inspire us to lead more fulfilling, more richly connected personal lives.
"Phoebe is a biological systems scientist turned social alchemist, motivated by translating the teachings from the scientific world into a language for how we can create a life-sustaining society. Having explored the potential of solutions in science and technology, she’s now taking those learnings and applying them to human systems.
She started off her academic career at the University of Cambridge, where she specialised in plant, algae and microbial systems - before researching algal genetics 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’s exploring what it might mean to exhibit ‘biological leadership’ - learning to lead from a place of deep wisdom of Nature’s patterns and gestures. 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.
April 2017, Youth Initiative Program (Y.I.P.), Sweden
Initiating projects and open collaborative networks
March 2017, Reading University, MSc Food and Politics Lecture
"Innovating innovation: creating new technologies on different operating systems".
February 2017, Royal College of Art
Speaker and Advisor, BioDesign Challenge
Advisor and final judge for the RCA BioDesign Challenge: http://biodesignchallenge.org
With the theme 'food' - gave mentorship through Future Farm Lab.
January 2017 - present, Schumacher College, Devon
Facilitator and Programme Designer
Resident systems designer in education and science.
November 2016, Schumacher College, Devon
Visiting Lecturer, Holistic Science MSc
Teaching on the Holistic Science Masters programme was an absolute dream. Following on from the legacy of previous teachers at Schumacher, namely the infamous and much admired Lynn Margulis, we dived into the topic of endosymbiosis, and the rich spectrum of intimate relationships present in Nature. We spanned an enormous scale, from the molecular mechanisms of chloroplast evolution all the way to intimate interspecies relationships and mutualisms - to our very own gut microbiome which controls and coordinates far more than we realise - from allergies and disease sensitivity to emotional states!
November 2016, Archer Academy, London
Visiting "Mad Scientist" - a tour of the relationships between humans and biology through the ages, and a creative assignment in designing bacteria and plants to solve world problems.
November 2016, Global Generation Skip Garden, London
Bringing together science, religion and the Universe Story.
July 2016, Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire
Guerilla Science & Future Farm Lab Workshops
Workshops delivered around our future of food, and alternatives to current modes of animal and plant agriculture... Delivered with a full sensory component: taste, smell, touch, and immersive!
8th June 2016, Royal College of Art, London
Workshop on engineering cyanobacteria for MSc Innovation Design students, collaborating with Marin Sawa, Biodesigner
1st June 2016, Royal College of Art, London
Urban farming and agro-ecology: moving to a sustainable food system
Algal bio-factories, lab-grown animal-free "cultured" meat, powdered vanilla-flavoured complete nutrient supplement drinks, accelerated selective breeding combined with genetic engineering to produce super-charged nutrient rich vegetables – if we have any need or use for vegetables at all…
Future Farm Lab explores the future of our food, how we got there, and what we can do to shape a more sustainable, nutritious, colourful and resilient food system one bite at a time. Joined by her team of cellular agriculturist Abi Glencross and science communicator Sophie Peri they will be presenting their work along serving up some thought-provoking and taste-tantalising experimental samples and refreshments!
April 2016, Crossmodalists Meet-up, London
Future Farm Lab Programme
Science Meets Art: Testing Taste and Perception and Immersing in the Future of Food
A series of hands-on experiments as an experience for attendees and also a valuable chance to collect data on public perception, and opinion, around protein alternatives and the potential future of our food. Followed by a feedback session, discussion and Q&A.
March 2016, Exhibition at the Science Museum, London
Future of London 2050: Algae as Food and Feed
February 2016, Lecture at Imperial College London
"The Synthetic Biology revolution: the road to realistic sustainability in the near future"
A lecture given to final year undergraduates to stimulate discussion and healthy skepticism around the role synthetic biology will and can play in our future. Followed by Q&A.
December 2015, Workshops at Bombay International School, Mumbai
"Programme DNA, Design Your Own Super-bug and Solve World Problems"
July 2015, Workshops at King George V School, Hong Kong
"The Evolution of Humans, Nature and Technology"
April 2015, Workshops at Tanglin Trust School, Singapore
"Designing a New World with Nature’s Guidance: Biomimicry"
"Re-wiring Your Brain: the Neuroscience of Stress, and Mindfulness"
March 2015, Workshops at Dubai College, United Arab Emirates
"The Intersection of Science and Life: Wonder"