Enlivenment Series

Enlivenment Series


Date: Sunday Afternoons

January 29, 2017, February 19, 2017, March 5, 2017 and March 19, 2017

Time: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Place: The Treehouse, Timberlake Earth Sanctuary

1501 Rock Creek Dairy Rd.

Whitsett, NC 27377

Cost: $50 per session



See session descriptions and presenter bios below


At the Center this year, we have become aware of the work of German biologist, Andreas Weber, a leader in the emerging field of poetic ecology. We immediately recognized the deep resonance between Weber’s writings and the work of Thomas Berry, who mentored the work of the Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World from 2000 until his death in 2009. Weber’s book The Biology of Wonder: Aliveness, Feeling and the Metamorphosis of Science has been translated into English and was published in 2016.


Andreas proposes a new living science – an invitation to welcome aliveness and feeling back into the scientific realm. He suggests that “the chill, abstract languages of the sciences place a barrier between us and the aboriginal feeling of life. Aliveness remains inaccessible and incomprehensible to ‘objective’ science in the way it defines itself today.”


In our Enlivenment Series we will explore the resonance of Weber’s and Berry’s work through a series of conversations with science educators who are graduates of the Center’s Inner Life of the Child in Nature program and who will speak of their own work in restoring aliveness and feeling back into how we know the natural world. Each session of the series will begin with an introduction that integrates the wisdom of Andreas Weber with the wisdom of Thomas Berry, led by Center Director, Peggy Whalen-Levitt.


In Session 1 on January 29 we will explore contemplative ecology, poetic ecology and eco-contemplative practices that enable us to move beyond "objectivity" into an experience of ourselves as intimately united with the livingness of all things.

Session Facilitators: Peggy Whalen-Levitt and Eric McDuffie


In Session 2 on February 19 we will consider the subjectivity of the teacher and remember the moments of enlivenment in our lives that brought us to our work as science educators. How might we nurture enlivenment within ourselves and bring it to our teaching?

Session Facilitators: Peggy Whalen-Levitt and Nicki Cagle


In Session 3 on March 5th we will consider connectedness to nature and how we might include elements in our teaching that address children's subjective and feeling responses to the natural world, such as time for reflection and free exploration.

Session Facilitators: Peggy Whalen-Levitt and Linda Tugurian


In Session 4 on March 19 we will consider enlivenment on the middle school level. How might we move from experiencing ourselves as objective and distanced spectators of the natural world to feeling ourselves as intimate and enlivened participants within the natural world?

Session Facilitators: Peggy Whalen-Levitt and Sonja Younger


Our sessions will begin with forming the circle, followed by a presentation on the theme at hand, a guided solo in the natural world, and a time for reflection at the end of the day.


Presenter Bios:


Nicki Cagle holds a PhD in Ecology and is on the faculty of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment where she teaches courses in natural history and environmental education. She also is the Director of the Duke Environmental Science Summer Program, a college-preparation and environmental science experience for talented, underserved local high school students.


Eric McDuffie is working on his PhD in Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England and teaches middle and high school science in Orange County. He holds a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University’s Leadership Program at the Nicholas School of the Environment. Eric is on the editorial staff of Whole Terrain.


Linda Tugurian holds a PhD in Science Education and is a District Science Specialist at Durham Public Schools. Linda’s dissertation, An Exploratory Investigation of Children’s Connectedness with the Natural World, includes research with children who experienced the Center’s Awakening to Nature Program. Linda’s article, “Children’s Environmental Identity and the Elementary Science Classroom,” is forthcoming in The Journal of Environmental Education.


Peggy Whalen-Levitt, PhD, is the Director of The Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World, where she has been deeply engaged in the formation of a work for adults and children based in Thomas Berry’s recognition that the universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects. Peggy is the editor of Chrysalis, the Center newsletter, and Only the Sacred: Transforming Education in the Twenty-first Century.


Sonja Younger is a veteran science educator whose experience with adolescents over the last 25 years continues to inspire her. Her work is rooted in an early relationship with the New England rocky intertidal ecology, and by particularly reverent teaching that created space for this relationship to flourish. Sonja has a vision for developing classroom community that honors and values a heart connection as integral to the study of life science.


“Poetic ecology... reconciles the science of life with the experience of being alive, and therefore with what we see and what we love. From its viewpoint, as when gazing into the face of another human being, the whole of nature becomes a ‘thou’.”


~ Andreas Weber, The Biology of Wonder: Aliveness, Feeling and the Metamorphosis of Science