Center, Athena

We are a center bridging science, business, and “ancient wisdom” from different traditions to bring sustainability and equality to the (business) world.

Infinite Potential – The life and ideas of David Bohm

He was one of the 20th Century’s most brilliant physicists. Albert Einstein called him his spiritual son. The Dalai Lama relied upon him as his “science guru.” So why is it that hardly any of us know the name: David Bohm?

By telling the little-known story of David Bohm and evoking the realms he explored in his research, INFINITE POTENTIAL takes us on a mesmerizing and immersive journey into the mystery of Consciousness––through the use of hypnotic music and rich visual tapestries. The film includes interviews with luminaries such as H.H. the Dalai Lama, esteemed artist Antony Gormley, Oxford philosopher and physicists Sir Roger Penrose, and many more who were influenced by Bohm’s revolutionary work.

Growing up in a poor Pennsylvania coal-mining town during the Great Depression, David Bohm possessed a rare and maverick intelligence that baffled his parents and peers. After earning a scholarship to go to college, Bohm got the attention of the greatest minds in science, including Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the Atomic Bomb, who became his thesis advisor but would eventually turn against him.

Bohm’s explorations led him to intuit a hidden order to reality––the Quantum Potential––that underlies both the microscopic world of subatomic particles and also the macro world of stars and galaxies. Bohm had turned to Eastern thought and the wisdom traditions of India to talk about something that underlies all of creation––a realm that mystics have known about for millennia and modern science is only just beginning to explore. Bohm’s revolutionary ideas were way ahead of their time––a threat to the scientific orthodoxy. And that’s why he was dismissed.

Lichtenberg, Jonas

Systemic Counselor
Research Fellow of Institut für Sozialpädagogische Forschung Mainz e.V.

A relational turn for sustainability science? Relational thinking, leverage points and transformations


In sustainability science, revising the paradigms that separate humans from nature is considered a powerful ‘leverage point’ in pursuit of transformations. The coupled social-ecological and human-environment systems perspectives at the heart of sustainability science have, in many ways, enhanced recognition across academic, civil, policy and business spheres that humans and nature are inextricably connected. However, in retaining substantialist assumptions where ‘social’ and ‘ecological’ refer to different classes of entity that interact, coupled systems perspectives insist on the inextricability of humans and nature in theory, while requiring researchers to extricate them in practice – thus inadvertently reproducing the separation they seek to repair. Consequently, sustainability researchers are increasingly drawing on scholarship from the ‘relational turn’ in the humanities and the social sciences to propose a paradigm shift for sustainability science: away from focusing on interactions between entities, towards emphasizing continually unfolding processes and relations. Yet there remains widespread uncertainty about the origins, promises and challenges of using relational approaches. In this paper, we identify four themes in relational thinking – continually unfolding processes; embodied experience; reconstructing language and concepts; and ethics/practices of care – and highlight the ways in which these are being drawn on in sustainability science. We conclude by critically discussing how relational approaches might contribute to (i) a paradigm shift in sustainability science, and (ii) transformations towards sustainability. Relational approaches foster more dynamic, holistic accounts of human-nature connectedness; more situated and diverse knowledges for decision-making; and new domains and methods of intervention that nurture relationships in place and practice.

(Taken from

Ragnarsdottir, Kristin Vala

I am originally an Earth Scientist with emphasis on geothermal systems and behaviour and fate of pollutants in the natural environment. Since 2000 I have been working on issues related to sustainability.

Silence Space

What is sustainability? Often, environmental aspects are in the foreground, while the social dimension is neglected. A transformation towards a more sustainable society, though, needs to consider the social and individual dimension as inner change causes outer change – and vice versa. We see the inner dimension underrepresented in public spheres.
We raise the awareness, that we need more than a technological understanding of sustainability, which cares primarily about the ecological consequences of our actions. We call for a shift in consciousness, too, which influences our thinking and action.
To think critically and acting according to it, is asked from each one of us. We believe that these capacities can be found in Silence. It offers a container for subjective transformation processes – by pausing consciously and taking part at learning journeys on (self)transformation. Deep inner change towards sustainability can’t happen in times of overwhelming stress and acceleration.
Silence Spaces in public places allow a transformation on both levels with the emphasis on internal spaces. The potential to become a part of the solution of grievances lies in every one of us and is able to unfold here. Silence Spaces are physical as well as symbolic spaces. They are free of cyber activities, talking, eating or any kind of input as long as there is not a learning journey taking place. In Silence we can drop into ourselves, observe, relax and reflect. We can gather strength and become observers when we exploit ourselves or witness exploitation of others and the environment. We need an economic and political shift and therefore promote spaces where critical thinking can happen, which is needed to bring along system change. The time for cool headed action is now.

Integrating Personal, Social, and Ecological Transformations toward Ecological Civilization

This invitation-only workshop will convene fifteen leading Chinese environmentalists, international sustainability scientists, grassroots organizers, and spiritual activists to share their knowledge and expertise working on Ecological Civilization. We will employ a highly participatory process of creative inquiry to explore the following question:

“How can we integrate personal, social, and ecological transformations toward Ecological Civilization? What strategic steps can we take to cultivate such an integrated understanding among key stakeholders?”

This workshop will examine how a relational approach to Ecological Civilization may better align its philosophical and political dimensions across sectors, cultures, and contexts. We will invite guests who offer case studies that bridge theory and practice and who are interested in taking a relational approach to their work. The workshop will apply methods that integrate knowledge, experiences, and skills (knowing, being, and doing) in sessions designed to consider case studies from three different orientations: forward, inward, and looping (FIL).

EcoCiv Workshop Agenda

Planetary Ethics and Artificial Intelligence

PETAL: Planetary Ethics and Artificial Intelligence

PETAL: Planetary Ethics and Artificial Intelligence Lab is a humanities laboratory based at the Humanities Research Center at Duke Kunshan University. Co-directed by Daniel Lim and James Miller, the lab promotes research into the future of the humanities in the areas of planetary ethics and artificial intelligence. It hosts events and activities designed to enrich the intellectual life of the DKU campus, and trains students in humanistic research.

The lab’s main research question is: what does it mean to be human in an age of artificial intelligence and planetary civilization? This research question arises out of the conviction that traditional humanistic research must be reconfigured to take proper account of the planetary context from which human life has emerged, and to respond to the challenge of artificial intelligence. In one sense, this is an age-old question in the humanities: what is the difference between nature, people, and machines? But this question takes on new significance because of scientific and technological developments that are overturning ordinary conceptions about the uniqueness of human beings.  Read more about the intellectual context and rationale for the lab’s research.

In addition to conducting research in these areas, the lab also has an exciting student fellowship program. Students receive a stipend, research training, and help design events related to the lab’s themes.

The lab will take place over the 2018-2019 academic year.

An Integral Theory of Consciousness

“Abstract: An extensive data search among various types of developmental and evolutionary sequences yielded a `four quadrant’ model of consciousness and its development (the four quadrants being intentional, behavioural, cultural, and social). Each of these dimensions was found to unfold in a sequence of at least a dozen major stages or levels. Combining the four quadrants with the dozen or so major levels in each quadrant yields an integral theory of consciousness that is quite comprehensive in its nature and scope. This model is used to indicate how a general synthesis and integration of twelve of the most influential schools of consciousness studies can be effected, and to highlight some of the most significant areas of future research. The conclusion is that an `all-quadrant, all-level’ approach is the minimum degree of sophistication that we need into order to secure anything resembling a genuinely integral theory of consciousness.”

A Mindset for the Anthropocene

The AMA project is a science-based reflection and empowerment hub for change agents engaging in inner transformation in the context of socio-ecological transformation. Institutionally the AMA project is operating as a transdisciplinary research project at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam. Beyond its research work, the AMA project acts as a network catalyst for an emerging global community that aims at cultivating ethical and virtuous qualities of the human mind as drivers of socio-ecological transformations to sustainability.

Global Consciousness Change: Indicators of an Emerging Paradigm

Is the global communications revolution fostering a new global consciousness? What is the extent of humanity’s global ecological awareness and concern? Is there a shift underway toward “postmodern” social values? Is a new kind of experiential or first-hand spirituality emerging? Is there a shift underway toward more sustainable ways of living?