This year the Centre for Human Ecology celebrates 40 years since its inception at Edinburgh University in 1972, and last weekend at Hardwick House in Oxfordshire this special anniversary was celebrated by 50 CHE graduates and friends.
The gathering reunited old friends, peers and colleagues, and attendees reminisced about their time with the CHE and recognised the common ground we all share as Human Ecologists from this special centre.
Participants also enjoyed exploring Hardwick Estate, home of one of the CHE graduates, which is in the early stages of moving towards a community ownership structure. At the ‘vegan’ (green manure only) market gardens adjacent to the house we took this picture for a 350.org campaign to map dots of community action on climate change.
After a lovely day of walking in the bluebell filled woods and sweeping Chiltern hills we celebrated the CHE’s birthday with a gorgeous foraged and locally grown meal prepared by a local family. During the eating of the 40th anniversary head-heart-and-hand cake Ulrich Loening – one of the CHE founders – gave a history of the Centre. Some of us were surprised to hear that the CHE was once the biggest department at Edinburgh University, and in its early days had supervised a PhD student from Iran who was studying an ancient Middle Eastern irrigation system. There were also tales of the inspiring lecture series and dramatic moves from one University to another over the years, ending with a call for young graduates to take the CHE into the future, recognising the dire need for deep ecological and social education as the Earth remains in crisis.
Then finally the ceilidh band struck up and we danced the night away, showing off in the Scottish dances and making a right mess of the English ones! Sunday morning’s stiff legs still managed a few games of ‘real tennis’ before grateful goodbyes between old and new friends as we drifted off our separate ways, hoping to meet again soon.