- Recognising the importance of cooperation and collaboration as key to energy-efficient and sustainable relationships. - Discover how scientific principles of biology and the evolution of living systems inform the operation of successful businesses.
Wellington: Friday 23rd March (evening), Saturday 24th March (all day) Auckland: Friday 30th March (evening), Saturday 31st March (all day)
Course content: Scientific concepts, especially the fundamental assumptions of globalised western science, deeply influence economics, and therefore the human future.
Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris is a world leader in understanding and explaining how the scientific principles of biology and the evolution of living systems can inform the operation of successful businesses as we face global crises.
The Nature of the living world is that it is systemic – it consists of systems within systems within systems. Living systems operate in accord with simple rules and principles. Feedback loops between all entities provide a dynamic equilibrium. Decision-making is distributed throughout the system, which functions as a dynamic, living whole. Each whole is more that the sum of its parts because each whole has a pattern. Each part is in turn a whole with its own integrity and its own unique patterns. Thus the age of simple centralisation is obsolete. Moreover simple decentralisation is also obsolete because it ignores the fact that in Nature the parts are nested in larger wholes and each negotiates with others in the best interest of the whole.
Janine Benyus helped bring the word biomimicry into 21st century vocabularies in her 1997 book on the subject. Her company, The Biomimicry Group, encourages biologists at the design table to ask: how would nature design this? She says our human society will create a more sustainable world in part by emulating the natural organisms all around us, which have already gone through billions of years of trial and error to find elegant and amazing solutions to process and design problems.
Self help tools that nurture growth by using Living Systems Thinking in Organisations and Communities. Tipu Ake is an organic project model that helps us operate in a world of complexity, chaos, interdependency and ambiguity. It is a cyclic behavioural model that can help any innovative organisation, community, project, group, team, or even a family or individual that needs to make new things happen. It is at the the roots of lifelong learning. Tipu Ake is a form of Biomimicry - Learning to thrive in a world of complexity and inter-dependence by taking lessons from Nature
"When we compare the subdivisions of space within architecture to similar metaphors in biology it is clear that our designs lack the multifuncional complexity as the membranes that occur within nature."
Is there a danger of over-simplifying the concept of biomimicry–as in, “well, if it works in nature, it’s sure to work in the human world?”
Yes, I think so. Mankind hasn’t gotten close to replicating anything close to the simple complexity of nature. We most often see forms from nature being mimicked. For example, the bullet train mimics the dive of a kingfisher, a model of concept car mimics the shape of a box fish. Mirasol’s display technology [from Qualcomm] mimics the nanostructure of a butterfly’s wing. But rarely do we see a form that manages to use one function to achieve myriad results, as we often find in nature.
Rarely do we see a product made with a material that is non-toxic, recyclable, and manufactured at room temperature, under low pressure. If anything, the tendency has been to oversimplify how nature works. We often find that biomimetic innovators benefit from multiple positive outcomes stemming from greater efficiency, reduced toxicity, and the like, but not to the scale of most organisms in nature.
I would posit that the incremental approach is holding us back, and that we need more scientists and entrepreneurs to break the innovation barrier to use biomimicry in a more comprehensive and holistic manner.
For Janine Benyus, the answers to our most complicated questions can be found in a place we often overlook: nature. A champion of biomimicry, Benyus wrote a book, launched a consulting firm and heads up an institute on the subject of natural solutions. A recent Heinz Award winner, Benyus spoke with me last month. Below are excerpts from our interview.