1998: Spring Lecture series: Practical People… Noble Causes. Speakers: Andrew Lyon, Forward Scotland; Cllr. Maureen Child; Sebastian Tombs, SEDA;Marian Mason, Sustainable Commuinities Project; Cathy McCulloch, Craigmillar EcoCity; Tess Darwin, Edinburgh Green Belt Trust; Gica Loening, Adult Learning Project;  Colin MacLeod, GalGael Trust; Eirigg Scandrett, Friends of the Earth Scotland; Aine Kennedy, CSV Scotland; John Boyce, Pilton Community Health Project; Eoghan Howard, Wester Hailes Rep. Council; Nick Wilding, Centre for Human Ecology

1998: Autumn Lecture series, in association with the Society, Religion and Technology Project of the Church of Scotland- ‘Engineering Genesis’:

Matthew Herbert, one of the Engineering Genesis speakers, shortly prior to an arrest on a GMO action

Rarely can a lecture series have been so well timed. In February, the story broke of the sacking of a top geneticist, Arpad Pusztai, following controversial results showing possible GM toxicity. The resulting furore brought genetic engineering to the forefront of public attention, and for two months the topics being discussed in the Friends Meeting House were all over tabloid front pages. Needless to say, this ensured good attendances for the end of the series, and our speakers took questions from what was perhaps the best informed lay audience in the country.


Stephen Wildridge of Monsanto

Highlights of the lecture series included the comment by Bruce Bennett, organic farmer and activist, that he didn’t agree with direct action, but he felt he’d had to do it anyway, and also the revelation from Monsanto’s Stephen Wildridge that he thought the risks of genetic pollution are uninsurable.

“What you’ve got to remember is that Frankenstein wasn’t the monster. He was the twisted scientist so intent on fusing bits of different creatures together, that he was oblivious to the damage he was inflicting” ­ audience comment

Over 13 lectures we heard from people with backgrounds in sociology, ethics, animal welfare and journalism, as well as activists, biologists, and company executives, both in favour of and against GM technology.

Engineering Genesis: Engaging Science and Ethics: Dr Donald Bruce, Church of Scotland Society, Religion & Technology Project. The co-editor of Engineering Genesis introduces the series, illustrated with issues from cloning to patenting.

The Social Context of Genetic Engineering: questions of power, risk and democracy: Prof. John Eldridge, Dept. of Sociology, University of Glasgow

Letting the Genie out of the Bottle: the environmental crisis for the new Millenium: Dr Sue Mayer, Director, Genewatch; former Science Director, Greenpeace UK

Terminator Seeds and Postcolonial Farming: Rev Dr Michael Northcott, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

Not by Bread Alone? Why should we modify our food, and is it ethical? Prof. David Atkinson, Deputy Principal, Scottish Agricultural College

1999: The Centre becomes an accredited institution of the Open University. The MSc resumes, becoming validated by Open University Validation Services in the same year

1999: Spring Lecture series: ‘Engineering Genesis’ (continued)

Monsters and Myths: Genetic Engineering and Animal Welfare: Dr Mike Appleby, Senior Lecturer in Animal Welfare, University of Edinburgh

We Protest: Bruce Bennett and Matthew Herbert, Organic farmer and environmental activist. Two people who believe a moral wrong is being done and, what’s more, have been prepared to act on their conviction.

The Battle for Consumer Choice: Catherine Brown (Food Writer, The Herald) & Bill Wadsworth (Iceland Frozen Foods)
. Scotland’s leading food journalist and a retailer committed to excluding GM foods from their products argue we have a right to know.

The Commercialisation of Agricultural Biotechnology: MONSANTO plc (Speaker TBC)

Genetic Engineering: Dream or Nightmare?: Dr Mae Wan Ho, Reader in Biology, Open University

A New Beginning or the Same Old Story?: Debate between Prof. Mike Wilson (Deputy Director, Scottish Crop Research Institute) and Dr Ulrich Loening (Academic Chair, CHE), chaired by Dr Donald Bruce.

1999: Ecofeminism course. Ecofeminism links issues of ecology and feminism, explores patterns of domination and destruction in history and leads to action based on new values. A six session course between January and March 1999 attracted 17 women of diverse backgrounds.

People & Parliament, with Vérène Nicholas and Alastair McIntosh on the steering group, sought to discern and clarify, for the Scottish Parliament and community groups, questions of identity, values, vision for the future and expectations for the Parliament. Over 450 group responses from more than 3500 participants were summarised and distributed to MSP candidates, Scottish MPs and MEPs, amongst others. Regional conferences in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glenrothes brought citizens and politicians together.

Popular Education Group. Vérène Nicolas works in partnership with Cathy McCormack and activists from Easterhouse, Glasgow on their project to create a Popular Democracy Education and Resource Group and Training Centre. She’s also preparing to introduce ‘Training for Transformation’ – a community empowerment programme developed in Africa on the principles of Brazilian Paulo Freire – to Scotland. She’ll do this through the new Popular Education Forum, which aims to encourage and develop popular education.

1999: Interdisciplinary International Conference: For the Love of Nature. Curated by Brendan Hill. Organised with the Institute for Deep Ecology (UK).

At the close of the twentieth century, there is an increasingly distant relationship between humans and the natural world. Loss of relationship can lead to abusive behaviour. As a result species disappear, the atmosphere is degraded, the tide of pollution rises, and first world consumption of natural resources continues unabated. In transgressing natural limits, we abuse nature at our own peril. As we move into the new millennium, we need to develop a sustainable relationship with the earth and all its manifestations.

For the Love of Nature? aims to inspire and empower us to work towards a more just and ecologically responsible society. The conference will give participants opportunities to share knowledge and resources, and will encourage collaboration in projects designed to achieve this aim.

Conference format:

For the Love of Nature? will bring together diverse disciplines and schools of thought and will encompass varying levels of participation from the theoretical to the practical and experiential. The format includes:

Keynote presentations by an international selection of leading practitioners and theorists.
Participatory seminars, academic papers, experiential workshops and trainings.
A full programme of arts and music.
Small ‘home groups’ where discussion and support will be facilitated.

John Seed will facilitate a three day deep ecology intensive.
Caitriona Reed will lead a deep ecology meditation retreat.
Alastair McIntosh, educator and Scots land reform campainger, will lead an exploratory Journey to the Hebrides.
Trees For Life will lead a field trip – Restoring the Scottish Wilderness – to present their work of healing this ecologically devastated land.
… plus many more.

Conference themes include:

Nature as Healer, Self as Nature: evolutionary and ecopsychology, ecotherapy.
The Others: interspecies communication and the sentience of all beings.
Knowing Nature and the Nature of Knowing: ecophilosophy, ecotheology, ecofeminism and postmodernity
Honouring Nature’s Patterns: green architecture and ecodesign.
Transgressing ‘nature’?: technology and responsibility.
Emerging Worldviews: environmental education, activism, politics and cultural change.

Speakers include:

Vandana Shiva – physicist, philosopher, feminist and campaigner on agriculture and genetic engineering; author of Staying Alive and Ecofeminism. (India)
Jane Goodall – chimpanzee ethologist and rainforest campainger; author of In the Shadow of Man. (UK)
John Seed – rainforest advocate, pioneer of deep ecology; originator, Council of All Beings and co-author, Thinking Like a Mountain. (Australia)
Aubrey Manning – animal behaviourist and presenter of the BBC TV series Earth Story, Professor of Zoology, former Chair Scottish Wildlife Trust; co-author of Animals and Human Society (Scotland)
Warwick Fox – environmental philosopher, author of Transpersonal Ecology (Australia and England)
Alastair McIntosh – indigenous land rights campaigner, author of the forthcoming Soil and Soul, and Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology (Scotland)
Robert Greenway – professor of psychology and wilderness leader, (Washington, USA)
Judy Ling-Wong – Director, Black Environment Network (UK)
Colwyn Trevarthen – Prof. of Child Psychology (Scotland)
Sarah Conn – Clinical Psychologist, Centre for Psychology and Social Change, Harvard University (US)
Mary Gomes – professor of psychology, Sonoma State University; co-Editor Ecopsychology (California, USA)
Francoise Wemelsfelder – ethologist, researcher on animal sentience (Scotland)
Elizabeth Bragg – environmental psychologist & Rainforest Information Centre (Australia)
David Devalle – philosopher (Wales)
John Talbot – Findhorn Ecovillage (Scotland)
Alan Watson – Trees for Life (Scotland)
Tania Dolley – UK Ecopsychology Network (England)
Michael Northcott – ecotheologian (Scotland)

1999: Autumn Lecture series: Globalisation and Community

The US, through the World Trade Organisation, targets the Scottish cashmere industry in the ‘banana war’; the Multilateral Agreement on Investment looks set to return; and the Euro is claimed to lead inexorably to closer political and economic union. What are the implications of globalisation in Scotland and beyond? Can these institutions be reformed – and to what ends?

With a Minister for Communities appointed and Land Reform legislation encouraging community ownership, what does ‘community’ really mean? With war and ethnic strife in the Balkans what can we learn about identity and belonging?

As ever the CHE Lectures bring together thinkers and doers – both world renowned and locally respected speakers who will contribute a wide range of perspectives to the debate.

International fisheries expert David Thomson will examine the loss of control of fisheries by local communities; community historian Camille Dressler will explore the successes and the failures of the Eigg Islanders; Director of the World Development Movement, Barry Coates, will present a campaigners perspective; and writer Kate Cairns will reveal the therapeutic role of communities in the dealing with violence and abuse.

Putting Our Foot Down: Ecological Footprints as a measure of our global impact: Mathis Wackernagel, Redefining Progress & Craig Simmons, Best Foot Forward.

Planet Dialectics: Is globalisation compatible with sustainability?: Wolfgang Sachs, Wuppertal Institute, Germany

The Sea Clearances: development and the decline of fishing communities: David Thomson, Fisheries consultant and author

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow: What do we mean by ‘Community‘? Isobel Lindsay, University of Strathclyde

Caledonian Sisters: The emergence of a multi-identity Muslim population: Farkhanda Chaudhry & Sara Baker, Islamic Society of Britain

Community, a Source of Harm and Healing: Kate Cairns, James Nayler Foundation

Poverty and Prejudice: Community Finance as a route to social inclusion: Sara McGeehan & Thomas Fisher, New Economics Foundation

2000: Spring Lecture series: Globalisation and Community (continued)

Just Do it! Community ownership of Eigg: The story so far: Camille Dressler, Community historian

Democratising the Global Economy: Barry Coates, World Development Movement

Levelling up or levelling down? Lucy Harris, Consumers International. Protecting consumers in the global food market

Tourism ­ Saviour or Destroyer? A remote island perspective: Dan Morgan, Centre for Human Ecology & Argyll Hotel, Iona

Special GM Foods event: In co-operation with the World Development Movement
and coinciding with the OECD Edinburgh conference on the scientific and health aspects of genetically modified food

The Inevitable Tragedy? Communities, commons & control: Michael Thompson, Musgrove Institute

2000: Publication of ‘Who’s A Real Scot: Embracing Multicultural Scotland’. Report of a visonary programme linking black and ethnic minority communities who are eager to shape a multicultural Scotland by engaging with the new Parliament.

-Providing Training for Transformation courses for “grassroots” community activists in areas of multiple deprivation in Scottish and English cities in partnership with Re:generate: the Action to Regenerate Trust (2000-present)

2000: Autumn Lecture series:

Land, Mind, Kind: Kenneth White, Geopoet, Sorbonne University

Is there a future for Africa’s wetlands? Camilla Toulmin, IIED and Ian Baxter (NAAG)

A peace of the action (with video!) Barbara McGregor, CND and Fiona Stephen (Anderson Strathearn)

Urban community regeneration: Gehan MacLeod, GalGael Trust and Martin Hulse (Cockburn Association)

Restoring the Earth: A positive vision for the 21st century: Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life and Mark Ballard (Reforesting Scotland)

Restoring the built environment: Ben Tindall, Tindall Architects and Ali Black (Save Hawkhill Allotments)

Bird and mammal re-introduction to Scotland: Roy Dennis, RSPB and Alison Johnstone (Save Meggetland Campaign)


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