Spotlight: Fritjof Capra

Fritjof Capra is an Austrian physicist and educator living and teaching in Berkeley, California. His lessons of ecoliteracy, webs of connections, and sustainability, among many others, are integral to living more harmoniously, in terms of issues of the environment, culture, religion, nutrition, health, justice, and more. These lessons are embodied in his Center for Ecoliteracy (, an organization based in Berkeley, California that is “dedicated to education for sustainable living”, and works to communicate and spread lessons of these topics and their interconnectedness throughout K-12 schools, especially in California. Author of several books, Capra has touched on the fundamental similarities between Eastern Mysticism (Taoism, Hinduism) and western physics, the importance of school lunch, and the teachings of Leonardo da Vinci. He is able to write on such a wide of array of subjects for his way of thinking.

His terribly strong scientific background has allowed him to think systemically, holistically about the world. Organisms are interconnected through their mutual dependencies in ecosystems, but social systems also rely on dependencies between organisms and functions. Capra recognizes these dependencies, cooperations and competitions, so evident in a biological study of ecosystems, between science and art, or the evolution of language. The recognition of systems and their contained mutualisms can extend to cultures, religions, or politics.

Capra, with the backing of the Center he cofounded, is a pedagogue of sustainability in California’s children. Ecoliteracy needs to pervade beyond a handful of California’s school systems and into the rest of the United States and then into each nation. If students, and also adults, can learn how ecosystems function, then these lessons can be applied to other systems, as mentioned above. Thinking systematically pulls out of the assembly-line industrialized way of thinking propagated by Descartes and then institutionalized into the present day. Descartes found a fundamental split between art and science, but Capra recognizes this discovery as flawed, a flaw that has unfortunately divided our world for too many years. Da Vinci was a groundbreaking painter and scientist, among myriad other professions, and synthesized his discoveries in each field to his advantage, allowing the overlaps to benefit him. In universities we are seeing the emergence of interdisciplinary fields and cooperation between various professions to find solutions. We are learning to think systemically again, realizing the importance to break free from thinking vertically, in silos, and instead horizontally, making use of all of our knowledge to solve complex problems.

Interview with Fritjof Capra

By continuing to encourage interdisciplinary thought and ecoliteracy the realization will emerge that the differences between each of us are not so great and that really we are more interconnected than we are separated. Capra sends a strong message in this regard, and I encourage you to look more at his personal website , and the Center for Ecoliteracy.

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