Earth 101

The Earth 101 series of course is the introduction to our Earth Studies Program, an integrated set of 30 seminars & courses about complexity sciences and their application to biology, Earth, climate and community resilience.


Some details about E101.   

Complexity sciences are a set of emerging scientific principles
that explain virtually everything as systems.

Complexity sciences are:

  • groundbreaking, yet understandable, even intuitive;
  • being called a revolution and a renaissance in science;
  • as different from 20th century mechanistic sciences as day from night;
  • as much a revolution as quantum theory, but far more understandable
    and more relevant to our everyday experiences.

Yet this is not the science you studied in high school or college.  These are not the ‘mechanistic’ sciences of the last 300 years that portrayed nature as a ‘machine’ to be controlled for human benefit.

Instead, they are new sciences that have emerged via the work of leading scientists,including:

  • Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine’s self-organization
    science (non-equilibrium thermodynamics)
  • Benoit Mandelbrot’s fractal geometry
  • Edward Lorenz’s butterfly effect
  • Stephen Wolfram’s new kind of science
  • theories of emergence and autopoiesis
  • Lynn Margulis’s symbiogenesis
  • James Lovelock’s Gaia theory.

They offer simple yet elegant and awe-inspiring insights into nature, Earth, life and society.

The Earth 101 courses are anything but a typical science class.  It is unique in the United States and possibly the world for its accessibility and integration of concepts and principles.   Adults with any background — including no science — will find it accessible.  It includes:

  • classes in live & teleconferenced versions
  • readings, videos, conversations, tutorials & tutoring,
    an online forum, learning community & outdoor experiences
  • contributions by several Ermah Ge associates
  • a holistic context yields a deeper, more intuitive understanding of concepts than contemporary educational programs

The principles of complexity apply to any system at any scale, from molecules and cells to organisms, ecosystems and societies to the whole Earth to galaxies and the cosmos.

Their most important application is to living systems.  They lead to a profound, awe-inspiring new understanding of the phenomenon of life, and a stunning new perspective of nature, Earth, life & society.

One of the most important applications of complexity sciences is in understanding our self-regulating planet,  what some – notably James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, Dianne Dumanoski and Mary Midgley– call Gaia, and what we call Ermah (Earth’s metabolism and homeostasis) or Ge — the English spelling of the oldest Greek name for Gaia.

Gaia — or what ever you wish to call it — is arguably the most important scientific concept of the 21st century.  If we — as a species — do not quickly get to know it conceptually, and the basics of its function, as explained by complexity, and start treating it like it’s our home instead of some nebulous thing called “the environment” <ack>, then simply put, our probability of survival as a species will decrease significantly.

In fact, it is impossible to fully understand climate change without grounding it in Gaia theory, or the science that studies it, called geophysiology.

Please note that we teach the science of Gaia, not religion or new age mysticism. We must make that clear because when listening to Alder speak briefly about Gaia theory, some have accused us of pedaling a religion.  Even though some new age and neo-pagan groups have tried to turn it into a religion, we do not.

In fact, as part of Earth 101, we teach an entire series about science, what it is (a way of knowing), what it is not, how it works — including hypothesis testing, model formation, theory development, etc — and how it differs from philosophy, religion and pseudo-sciences like astrology.