Harding, Stephan 1953-

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Harding, Stephan 1953-


Born 1953, in Venezuela; moved to England at the age of six; married Julia Ponsonby; children: Oscar. Education: Graduate of University of Durham; University of Oxford, Ph.D.


Home—Dartington, Devon, England. Office—Schumacher College, The Old Postern, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EA, England.


Schumacher College at Dartington, Devon, England, cofounder, coordinator of the master of science program in holistic science, resident ecologist, 1990—; University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway, Arne Naess Chair in Social Justice and the Environment, 2007; Dartington Hall Trust, Dartington, advisor on ecological restoration. Worked variously as ecologist for the Smithsonian Institute in Caracas, Venezuela; for the Animal Ecology Research Group at the University of Oxford, Oxford, England; and teaching biology at National University in Costa Rica.


Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia, Green Books (Devon, England), 2006.


Stephan Harding was born in Venezuela in 1953. When he was six years old, he moved to London with his father, where he continued to develop an awareness of the natural world that had fascinated him as a child in South America. He studied biology and ecology, and at the age of eighteen, he traveled to the Sengwa Wildlife Research Area in Zimbabwe, where he spent seven months assisting in research on the local elephants and warthogs during his gap year before entering university. Harding went on to earn a degree in zoology from the University of Durham, and later a doctorate in ecology from University of Oxford. Between degrees, he returned to Venezuela, where he worked as a researcher for the Smithsonian Institute in Caracas, focusing on the ecology of the small mammals living in the forests and plains of that region. At Oxford, he joined the Animal Ecology Research Group and wrote his doctoral thesis based on a six-year study on the ecology of England's feral muntjac deer. He then spent two years in Costa Rica at the National University, teaching wildlife biology and furthering his research. In 1990 he returned to England and assisted in the founding of Schumacher College, settling in as ecologist in residence, as well as coordinator of the master of science program in holistic science. In 2007, Dr. James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia ecological hypothesis and Harding's friend and collaborator, shared with Harding the Arne Naess Chair in Social Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo.

Harding has an ongoing interest in conservation, animals, and the planet. His first book, Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia, incorporates hard science with more qualitative practices in an attempt to meld the two approaches of healing the planet and respecting its resources. He likens this to two areas of the human psyche he believes are no longer communicating with any reliability: the ability to be rational and the ability to be intuitive. In the same way that a person must learn to meld logic and intuition, the planet must be unified and regarded as a single organism, including all of the systems of life it supports. In a review for the Internet Bookwatch, one contributor wrote that Harding's attention to the "living earth makes for wonderful, revealing reading." In an interview posted on the Transition Culture Web site, Harding himself explains his theory in simple terms: "You don't have to have lots of possessions to be happy…. Real wealth comes from community, from our relations with the community of humans and from the community of the more than human beings that surround us and ultimately from the animate Earth herself."

Harding told CA: "I have been a long-term friend and collaborator of James Lovelock (one of my major scientific mentors), the originator of the Gaia theory, with whom I shared the Arne Naess Chair in Social Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo in 2007."



Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May, 2007, D.P. Siems, review of Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia, p. 1558.

Internet Bookwatch, November, 2006, review of Animate Earth.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2007, review of Animate Earth.


Chelsea Green Publishing Web site,http://www.chelseagreen.com/ (December 8, 2007), author profile.

Gaia Coach Institute Web site,http://www.gaiacoach.co.uk/ (December 8, 2007), faculty profile.

Schumacher College Web site,http://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/ (December 8, 2007), faculty profile.

Transition Culture,http://transitionculture.org/ (July 12, 2006), "Stephan Harding on Peak Oil."

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