Written by Edward L. Quevedo, J.D.[1]

“Love is the only emotion that expands intelligence, creativity and vision; it is the emotion that enables autonomy and responsibility. Love is composed of relational behaviors through which another (a person, being, or thing) arises as a legitimate other in coexistence with oneself.  Only in love can we be creative, fully human, and able to seek and perhaps find a common shared future.

Only in a context of safety, respect and freedom to be and create (i.e. a context of love) can people be relaxed and find the conditions conducive to engage in higher intelligent behaviors that use their brain neo-cortex. Learning, collaboration and creativity happen when we are able to function from a consciousness capable of including a world centric awareness of ‘all of us.’”

Autopoiesis & Cognition: The Realization of the Living Maturana & Varella

At the annual NCSE National Conference and Global Forum in January, we will examine how design that integrates nature and technology can increase resilience in a time of rapid social, technological, and environmental change. The workshops, symposia, and poster sessions will traverse and reveal how research and education can be transformed to foster transdisciplinary convergence to help meet societal needs.

The sessions will span the humanities, sciences, and social sciences to drive new partnerships and collaborations to bring new thinking to our most pressing ecological, social, and economic challenges.  This prescription for explorations arises directly from the challenging system conditions at the intersection of science, policy, and society.

These challenges defy expertise.  The gap between the rich and poor, collapse of ecosystems, the paralyzing partisan divide in politics present complexities unprecedented in our time.  The approach at Conference will encourage potent inquiry among stakeholders, new collaborations and partnerships for impactful shifting of these national system conditions to forge a new path forward.

The theme of the Science, Business, and Education of Sustainable Infrastructure focusing on Sustainable Infrastructure for to Build Resilience in a Sustainable World, is an exploration of the rescue pattern for national culture.  It could be argued that the effects of climate shift represent the greatest economic and public health emergency of our time.

In these circumstances, it is worth considering the wisdom of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education and Biodynamic Agriculture, amongst many other intellectual bequests.  Steiner observed that in the realm of economics,

“[I]t is through the overcoming of self that is something valuable, not derived from personal desires, comes to expression – fellowship, responsibility for others, a way of living so that the other gains experience through shared needs and aspirations.  In the economic sphere is born that which unites people in terms of feeling:  that is, fellowship.   The more this is cultivated, the more fruitful economic life becomes.  And the impulse towards fellowship arises when we establish a certain connection between our property and another’s, between our need and another’s, between something we have and something another has, and so on.

In essence, Steiner is invoking the sacred into the secular world of economics.  Unless we can rediscover this sense of connectedness and interdependence, our politics, policies, and economics will continue to tear at the fabric of our culture and our democracy.  Nature understands these integrated realities.  We ignore them with great risk.

We invite you to join us at NCSE 2018 to build new collaborations to use science more creatively and to set policy, and to explore the opportunity to drive a more human and principled national agenda.

In progressive nations, culture is cultivated by a Ministry of Culture.  In Canada, for example, the Ministry of Canadian Heritage plays a vital role in cultivating the cultural, civic and economic life of Canadians. Arts, culture and heritage represent $54.6 billion in the Canadian economy and more than 630,000 jobs in sectors such as film and video, broadcasting, music, publishing, archives, performing arts, heritage institutions, festivals and celebrations.

In our country we have no such ministry rather departments and agencies.  In the absence of federal ministries tasked with cultivating our cultural, civic, and economic life in the United States, it is left to NGOs such as NCSE to fill this essential void.  We embrace this role, and offer the deep and engaging exploration of science, policy, and ecology as a tonic for the aspiration we all share to build a more just, thriving, and ecologically regenerative future.

We offer in closing some wisdom from the complex problem-solving world of international diplomacy.  Adam Kahane’s book Solving Tough Problems invokes the sacred in the context of bringing together communities riven by divisive politics and policies:

“We must listen to each other….”

“No, brother, that’s not quite it – We must listen with empathy….”

“Brother, that’s still not quite what we need.  We must listen to the sacred within each of us….”

Kahane, op. cit. p. 126

[1] Edward Quevedo is the Director of Regenerative Design and Head of Practice at The Foresight+Innovation Lab, a Collaborative Advisory and Creative Agency composed of educators, policy innovators, international diplomats, social entrepreneurs, sustainability practitioners, and non-profit leaders working together to build the New Regenerative Economy.  He is also a Research Fellow at NCSE.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect in any way those of the National Council for Science and the Environment.