Science and the Human Spirit

By Dave Imbrogno, Senior Partner*

I recently attended a conference exploring the connection between science and the human spirit.  It was co-sponsored by the Yale School of Forestry and the Yale Divinity School.  Every morning on my way to breakfast I encountered a woman coming down from the roof of the building where we stayed.  After a number of those intriguing encounters she finally revealed that she was rapidly losing her sight.  For six months now, every morning before dawn, she would go to the woods, the beach or, in this case the roof to, in her words, “See the light.”

At this same conference, another amazing woman spoke. Years earlier she was in the path of a uni-bomber attack.  She spent six months in a body cast, immobile, unable to speak.  What kept her sane, and perhaps alive, she said, were the sound of birds, sun and storms and, the changing light of day and night which filtered into the room through a small window.

After spending over twenty five years in environmental and informal science education, I have seen more people than ever are aware of the practical, economic and scientific value of nature.  Those of us working in this field can be proud.  But, those two women understood the other more personal, intrinsic values of the natural world.  Connecting with that more personal and intrinsic side of science and nature is the new frontier in environmental and science education.

India is one of the few places in Asia where you can find people and wild nature living together.  In perhaps the most crowded and intense place in the world, people and nature coexist as much as they do not so much because of the practical value of nature, but because of the respect for life and the spiritual connection with it that so many Indians have.

We have much to learn from India, people who are losing their sight, artists, poets and those inner voices inside of us that tell us what is beautiful, good and the right thing to do.

Society responds most strongly when the issues are moral ethical and personal.  The next challenge in environmental protection is to make those personal, inner connections between people and our world.

Here at THE DRAGONFLY GROUP we are very interested in exploring the many different connections between people with nature.  We do this on the scientific and practical level with biology, ecology, horticulture and more.  We also do this on the personal level by exploring the use of nature inspired art in parks and museums, and by giving new emphasis to providing opportunities for people to find quiet, peaceful places to find their own personal connection with the world.

One purpose of science is to find the truth.  Artists and poets share that same goal.  Together, we are finding new, interdisciplinary ways to expand the connection between people and nature to include not only the mind, but the spirit.

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