Dr. Susan B. Eirich: "Reawakening our Bond with Earth"

The JCU Institute of Future and Innovation Studies and Cortona Week welcomed Susan B. Eirich, Ph.D., for the third monthly Cortona Pearl, titled “Reawakening our Bond with Earth,” which took place on April 24, 2021.

Professor Pierluigi Luisi and Francesco Lapenta, Director of the Institute, introduced Dr. Eirich, Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute in Tetonia, Yellowstone National Park. A leading thinker and practitioner, Dr. Eirich has invested all her life in promoting a new systemic rethinking of our ecological crises via a “Reconnection Ecology.”

The event, organized in collaboration with JCU Professors Ieva Jakobsone Bellomi and Francesco Lapenta, was moderated by Mirjam Luthe (Ave Institute) and included respondents Fritjof Capra, Pierluigi Luisi, and Wolfgang Lukas.

Dr. Susan B. Eirich and Black Wolf

Dr. Susan B. Eirich and Black Wolf

What would happen if we expanded our sense of community to truly include all living beings in our thinking and planning? To solve our ecological crisis, human thinking and ingenuity must expand to connect with all life, with its multitudes of intelligences, and expressions of belonging to a shared ecosystem. Academic and scientific work tends to be human-focused. It is important to add a vivid, vibrant connection with other-than-human beings to balance these approaches. A profound rethinking of our connection with nature, and animals can help rethink the role of our species on earth and our connection with nature. Many of us share a connection with dogs and cats or horses but wild animals can take us even deeper, serving as a portal into connecting with all Life. They can take us out of our human-centered way of thinking and into a larger frame of reference.

After Dr. Eirich’s presentation, participants had the chance to engage in discussions in small groups chaired by the moderator and other members of the Cortona week. After the discussions, all participants reconvened in the plenum to discuss the comments and questions of each group with Dr. Eirich.

A licensed psychologist, biologist, and educator, Dr. Eirich has taught at universities around the world, worked in maximum-security prisons, developed a university counseling center, directed a Nature Conservancy Preserve, and lived in remote corners of Nepal, the Mid and the Far East, the Northwest Territories and the Amazon rainforest. Her goal is always to see through others’ eyes as a way to enhance understanding between cultures, peoples, and species. She received a B.S. in Biology from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; an M.A. degree in Psychology from New School for Social Research, New York, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Kentucky.

Earthfire Institute is a wildlife sanctuary and retreat center that currently provides lifetime care for wild animals native to the US Rocky Mountains including wolves, bears, wild cats, bison, and more. Dr. Eirich founded Earthfire in 2000 in order to give a voice to wildlife and help people find their own natural voice. Earthfire’s work is to help humans reawaken their bond with Earth through a pioneering approach called Reconnection Ecology, motivating them to protect wildlife and nature.