International Lectures on Nature and Human Ecology

Ulrich Loening
The School of the Man-made Future and the Centre for Human Ecology, University of Edinburgh

This presentation described the two institutes. both dealt with the 'problematique' facing humanity, both promoted by the university, yet both in the end were failures, yet their legacies have recently stimulated new initiatives. The Centre for Human Ecology (CHE) was started by the University, and Wad appointed as its first Director. He had founded the School of the Man-made Future (SMMF) concurrently and independently. The School gave give student and public lectures, the CHE promoted research and consultancy. When Wad died in 1975, the SMMF was closed, and I campaigned for the CHE to take on both functions.

That worked for 20 years, but with the repeated threat of closure every 3 years, until I retired. During that time the CHE organised many workshops, exhibitions and conferences. It launch the MSc in Human Ecology, for which it had to join a faculty and feared a loss of its interdisciplinary status. The collaboration with the Institute of Forestry and Natural Resources led to fruitful exchanges of courses and students. The courses were not designed as vocational training; they were and educational approach, "Tools for Thought" from which students could return to their chosen professions, with the added ecological framework. Many did so; others were motivated to start their own organisations. All found ro created employment. No long-term funding for Director was ever achieved, and when I retired in 1996, the CHE was finally closed. Thereafter it flourished independently for some years accredited by the Open University and then the University of Strathclyde. Now it still is a core of enthusiasts in Glasgow.

I and they are now collaborating with the German Society of Human Ecology to launch a European College of Human Ecology, and run summer schools towards this. The lessons from the study of the ecology of humans has shown that this now dominant species has been degrading the surface of the planet over the past centuries and cannot long survive by continuing the along same path. The time has come for change, a bifurcation point in Wad's epigenetic landscape, a time to create a new chreod; a time for a new enlightenment. I proposed that the application of Science has to change from overcoming natural constraints to working with natural processes, a change to create a newer "Convivial Science". There are many signs that this is slowly emerging.

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