Colloquia for ‘Learning to Think in the Anthropocene’



A collaboration has been established (currently in the planning stage) between the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research in the Anthropocene (IIRA) and the

Learning Development Institute (LDI):

and in particular, its Human Learning in the Anthropocene (HLA) program

Following is a description of LDI’s HLA program


Learning in the Anthropocene

It took 13.82 billion years of evolution to get us where we are now in our particular corner of the universe . . .


. . . leaving us with an important question for our possible futures in the Anthropocene: Where do we go next?


The project

Human Learning in the Anthropocene (HLA) is a new focus area of exploration, research, reflection and development in the Learning Development Institute. It comes in the wake of the Learning Development Institute’s prior major focus on Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM). HLA is not unrelated to BtSM, but it represents a wider and more acute focus.

The rationale behind HLA is complex. A growing body of scientific research suggests that it is time for humanity to stop doing business as usual. We are becoming painfully aware that there is something terribly wrong in the relationship between humans and their planetary environment. Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen thus named our geological epoch Anthropocene. He did so for a reason, considering that we live in an era predominantly characterized by the significant, at times disastrous, impact of human activity on the environment. A cornucopia of serious problems is the result. Our cultural development has not kept pace with the astounding increase in what we know and are technically able to do. Consequently, humanity is in for a fundamental adjustment of its way of being in the world.

The problems we have to deal with in the Anthropocene are wicked and complex. They call for a different kind of human inhabitants of planet earth, i.e., culturally transformed members of our species who are able to think differently and take control of their behavior at a higher level of responsibility. Such cultural transformation calls for a different vision of what it means to learn and how we design for learning. While dealing with these issues we find ourselves still largely in terra incognita. Given this reality, HLA‘s attention goes in the first place to charting the terrain, to identifying and clarifying the major problems ahead and challenges to be met, and to figuring out what must be done. In this context, the HLA initiative aims at contributing to (1) a change in perceptions of human learning in ways that are relevant to the challenges of the Anthropocene and (2) a change in attitudes and competencies in those involved in creating the conditions for learning in both informal and formal settings along the lifespan around the world. The focus of HLA is on knowing, as well as on doing, what must be done in the Anthropocene.

We welcome contact with researchers and designers for learning around the world interested in the above issues.


For initial activities undertaken by LDI follow the above referenced link for the HLA program.


The plan is to schedule joint IIRA-HLA colloquia in this area.

As a start we have decided to begin building a global network of competent and passionately devoted individuals whose collective actions can constitute an early inspiring framework for the development of both thinking and practice, as well as policy recommendations that, over time, could reshape the learning landscape to suit the conditions of the Anthropocene. Network members will be expected to devote their professional interests, time and other resources (to the extent possible) to start creating the conditions for the development of Human Learning in the Anthropocene, and thus of adequate Thinking Practices that allow humans to survive and thrive in the Anthropocene. Members of the network will do so in the practical context of what they are already doing anyway and share with the network relevant experiences and thoughts.

The first official announcement for a joint LDI-IIRA colloquium can be found here:

This colloquium will take place during the Big History conference at Villanova University, USA, July 26 – 29.


Visser, J. (2016). Human Learning and the Development of Mind in the Anthropocene: Reflections against the Backdrop of Big History. Paper presented on July 15, 2016 at the third biennial conference of the International Big History Association, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, July 14 – 17, 2016. Click here for the published version of this paper in the October 2016 issue of Origins, Vol. VI, Nr. 9.

Visser, J. (2016) Slide series on Human Learning and the Development of Mind in the Anthropocene: Reflections against the Backdrop of Big History. Slides accompanying the above presentation at the third biennial conference of the International Big History Association, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, July 14 – 17, 2016.


Video presentation

Edgar Morin: Seven complex lessons in education for the Future