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Conference Room in Concord House

Suggestions for Study
Circles are always welcome.

Donna at worldculture dot org

Newcomers are welcome to join at any time.



robin kimmerer
Robin Wall Kimmerer
and Student




FALL 2021
Weekly Study Circle meetings are held on Tuesday Evenings from 7:30 to 9:00 pm
Until further notice, Study Circle meetings will be held via Zoom. If you would like to be on the list to receive a Zoom link each week, please email:


A short article, video or essay will be posted on this site for each meeting. 
It would benefit the discussion if everyone could look at the material beforehand. 
There will be a brief introduction to the topic at the beginning of each meeting and the rest of the time will be open for discussion. 
We very much look forward to your participation. 

The theme for the year for the Institute will be: "Opening Doors through Non-Violence and Magnanimity"
In line with this theme, we will begin a new Study Circle topic in January where we will take up the life and work of Nelson Mandela,
civil rights activist and past president of South Africa.

The Study Circle will focus on the thoughs and music of composers and musicians/ In so far as possible these individuals will speak for themselves in video clips, as well as in musical selections.

Dec 7, 2021 Yo Yo Ma
In a video clip, renouned cellist Yo Yo Ma will discuss his far-reaching vision for how artists can practice for their citizenship, as individuals and through institutions–and how the arts fulfill a fundamental human need by forging and strengthening community.
Dec 14, 2021 Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky
Much loved Russian composer Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsk's thoughts on work and inspiration will be the focus of discussion, with clips from his ballets The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. READING: Tshaikovsky Quotes (pdf version); Tshaikovsky Quotes (Word version)
Dec 21, 2021 Wynton Marsalis
Iconic jazz musician, composer and teacher Wynton Marsalis's Harvard discussion of music and meaning and the importance of the arts in education will be streamed and discussed.
Dec 28, 2021 Winton Marsalis - (continued)
A lecture given by Winton Marsali' at Harvard University will be screened and discussion will follow.
The United Nations COP26 brings the topic of the environment back into the focus of political discussion. The Institute of World Culture is sympathetic to the goals of the U.N., so the next few meeting of the Study Circle will be devoted to a consideration of the environment.
Nov 30, 2021 Environmental Issues
We will continue our discussion on the environment, especially thinking about how we can reciprocate the gists of the Earth. A talk by Winona LaDuke will be screened prior to discussion.
Nov 23, 2021 Environmental Issues
We will focus more on the thought of Robin Wall Kimmerer, especially the distinction she makes between "sustainability" and "reciprocity." We will play part of an interview with her from the radio program "On Being". She is being interviewed by Krista Tippett.
Nov 16, 2021

Traditional Wisdom and Contemporary Science
We will screen a short interview with Robin Wall Kimmerer, a contemporary philosopher, member of the Native American Citizen Potawatomi Nation, a botany professor and author, and discuss her ideas in terms of their environmental implications. She is able to blend contemporary science with traditional wisdom in ways that are accessible to most of us. This quotation from Thomas Carlyle is worthy of contemplation as a preparation for our discussion: "The Spiritual, it is still often said, but is not now sufficiently considered, is the parent and the first cause of the Practical. The Spiritual everywhere originates the Practical, models it, makes it: so that the saddest external condition of affairs, among men, is but evidence of a still sadder internal one. For as thought is the life-foundation and motive-soul of action, so in all regions of this human world, whatever outward thing offers itself to the eye, is merely the garment or body of a thing which already existed invisibly within; which, striving to give itself expression has found, in the given circumstances that it could and would expres itself–so. This is everywhere true; and in these times, when men's attention is directed outward rather, this deserves far more attention than it will receive."
Near the end of our discussion last week of the UN COP26, a student suggested three questions that might help us with our considerations of climate change: 1. What are compelling incentives for change? 2. Who can influence change? 3. Will there be time to change?

Nov 9, 2021 United Nations COP26
The Study Circle will be discussing the U.N. COP26 meeting. The reading below points out some of the highlights of the Conference, along with some critical notes. Please read through it before the meeting.

Click here for reading in pdf format
Click here for reading in Word document format
Nov 2, 2021 Nature's Best Hope
In this meeting the Circle will discuss an interview with Douglas W. Tallamy which was hosted by Mitch Jeserich of KPFA Radio's "Letters and Politics" program. Prof. Tallamy is an entomologist who has recently published his book: Nature's Best Hope. It turns out that planting a native plant garden is one of the ways we can help the Earth. In the interview Tallamy explains why, and he increases our understanding of the interdependences of the kingdoms of nature and our responsibility within that interdependent world.

Link to interview:
The Study Circle will begin the fall season by taking up Part 1 of the book: "Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole World" by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Ten years ago, in his best-selling Ethics for a New Millennium, His Holiness the Dalai Lama first proposed an approach to ethics based on universal rather than religious principles. Now, in Beyond Religion, the Dalai Lama, at his most compassionate and outspoken, elaborates and deepens his vision for more secular approach to ethics. Part 1 focuses on A New Vision of Secular Ethics. All the world's major religions, with their emphasis on love compassion, patiences, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality beyond religion althogether." We will follow the Dalai Lama with a chapter on "Is Happiness Possible" from Mathieu Richard's book on "Happiness" and then take up an selected passages from the book "Biased, Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do", written by Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhD. We finish up the theme of Ethics for a Whole World with an article on Teaching Philosophy with Calvin and Hobbes!
Sept 14, 2021

Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole World
Reading: Chapter 1, "Rethinking Secularism", pages 3-20

Sept 21, 2021

Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole World
Reading: Chapters 2 & 3: "Our Common Humanity", pages 21–29,
and "The Quest for Happiness", pages 31–39

Sept 28, 2021 Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole World
Reading: Chapters 4 & 5: "Compassion, the Foundation of Well-Being", pages 41-56, and
"Compassion and the Question of Justice", pages 57-71

Oct 5, 2021

Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole World
Reading: Chapters 6 & 7: "The Role of Discernment", pages 73-81, and
"Ethics in our Shared World", pages 83-97

Oct 12, 2021

"Is Happiness Possible"
Reading: Exercise on pg 48, Chapter 5 pages 49-57, Exercise on page 57-58
In addition to reading this from Mathieu Ricard’s book on Happiness, please try the two suggested “exercises,” one on pleasure verses happiness, and the end one on meditation. The question will be - “Did one learn anything from the exercise?” This would be independent of any meditation routine in which you might be engaged.

Oct 19, 2021

Reading: Selections from Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhD
Tonight's readings are from the book Biased, Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See , Think , and Do, written by Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhD, about implicit bias, contains selections from various parts of the book, so the page numbers jump around. It is meant to  give you some sense of the topic, and primarily from examples - to reduce the fatigue of statistics!

Oct 26, 2021

"Teaching Philosophy to Children"
Reading: "Teaching Philosophy with Calvin and Hobbes: Philosophy for Children
Tonight's reading from the article “Teaching Philosophy with Calvin an Hobbes,” with its subtitle “Philosophy for Children,” is not meant that we focus on Calvin and Hobbes, but that we use what is said about the comic strip and apply it in other contexts of contemporary media and contemporary society. In this regard we should think of philosophy in terms of how to view and live life as in the Socratic maxim “Virtue is knowledge.” It is really about education for all ages outside the classroom, the cultivation of the aspiration to understand more and to express our best more fully.


The Study Circle will be using articles from the book "Team Human" by Douglas Rushkoff. Though created by humans, our technologies, markets, and institutions often contain an anti-human agenda. Rushkoff, a digital theorist and host of the NPR-One podcast Team Human, reveals the dynamics of this anti-human machinery and invites us to remake these aspects of society in ways that foster our humanity.

The Study Circle will take a break for the summer months of June, July and August and will resume meetings in September 2021. We hope you will join us then!

May 4, 2021

Team Human
Rushkoff asserts tthat it is time we reassert the human agenda, and we must do so together ––not as the as the individual players we have been led to imagine ourselves to be, but as the team we actually are."

Reading: "Team Human" and "Social Animals", pgs 1-22 from "Team Human" by Douglas Rushkoff

May 11, 2021

A.I. or Renaissance Now
While new technology and its machines may get certain things done faster and more efficiently than humans, they externalize a host of other problems. What are they? A renaissance is, as the word suggests, a rebirth of old ideas in a new context. This may sound less radical than revolutionary upheaval, but it offers a better way to advance our deepest human values.

Reading: "Artificial Intelligence" and "Renaissance Now", pgs 117-132 and 185-196 from "Team Human" by Douglas Rushkoff

May 18, 2021


7:30 - 8:30 The Wisdom of Children
For the first hour of the Study Circle, we will focus on the wisdom of children. Our speaker will be Nancy Martin, a former Peace Corp volunteer and and retired Montessori teacher. She will share insights based on a lifetime of teaching children.

8:30 - 9:30 Creating Hope with His Holiness, the XIV Dalai Lama
At 8:30, we will stream a UCSB Arts and Lectures interview with HH the Dalai Lama, in conversation Pico Iyer on the topic of creating hope. This interview is being offered by UC Santa Barbara's Arts & Lecture's series and is free of charge. Regular participants of the Institute's Study Circle will automatically be sent a link to join the Study Circle meeting at 7:30 pm. If you do not normally receive a link to particiapte in the Study Circle, but woud like to join in this time, please email: – no later than 4:30 pm, Tuesday, May 18th and a link to join the Study Circle will be emailed to you.

If you are too late to join the Study Circle, anyone may access the interview free of charge and without prior registration on one of these websites:
UCSB's Arts & Lectures:
Dali Lama's website:

Reading: None

May 25, 2021

Human Values and Humanistic Socialism
Our focus will be on the last sections of "Team Human", which propose ways to recognize the power of solidarity.

Reading: "Organize" and "You Are Not Alone", pgs 199-216 from "Team Human" by Douglas Rushkoff

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed." ~ M.K. Gandhi
"The key words of violent economics are urbanization, industrialization, centralization, efficiency, quantity, speed . . . The problem of evolving a non-violent way of economic life [in the West] and that of developing the underdeveloped countries may well turn out to be largely identical." ~ E.F. Schumacher
M.K. Gandhi and E.F. Schumacher, Satish Kumar, Winona LaDuke and others, have offered creative, realistic and powerful paradigms for social transformation. How might we use them as models for a new world culture that operates as if people matter?
Apr 6, 2021 The Revolutionary Message of E.F. Schumacher: An Economy of Peace
Much influenced by M.K. Gandhi, E.F. Schumacher explores the roots of a possible economy of peace. Considering "Smalll is Beautiful", we will discuss some of the factors and changes that could help develop an economy of permaneance.
Technology with a Human Face
From "Small is Beautiful", Chapter 5,
by E.F. Schumacher
Apr 13, 2021 The Doughnut Economy
The doughnut economy is a new way of understanding sustainable economies which accounts for both maximum limits while helping to set minimal criteria for allocating societal resources. We will discuss this schema while focusing on Amsterdam's attempts to live by this model.
Doughnut City: Amsterdam tries to live by a radical new economic theory
"Time Magazine", Ciara Nugent
Apr 20, 2021 Food Economics: Our Relationship to Food
In a recorded video, Winona LaDuke, an Ojibwa farmer and advocate for regenerative food practices, talks about the challenges and possibilities of sustainable and healthy food systems and how we are impacted by our relationship to food itself. We will show this video and Warren Brush, co-founder of Quail Springs Permaculture in Ventura County, will join us to share Quail Springs and the principles of regenerative agriculture.
Apr 27, 2021 Community Supported Agriculture
Carolyn Givens from John Givens Farm in Goleta, California will join us to talk about her family's experience starting and running a successful organic farm and the value of local and community supported agriculture.
Mar 2, 2021 Gandhi's Critique of Modern Civilization
In the essay, "Hind Swaraj", Mahatma Gandhi provides a powerful paradigm for an alternative civilization. He writes: "Western civilization is such thst one has only to be patient and it will be self-destroyed." Self-rule is only possible through the force of love and self-reliance.

Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
by M.K. Gandhi

Mar 9, 2021 Gandhi on Human Nature and Perfectibility
Gandhi asserts in his writings that human nature is essentially good and capable of perfectibility. This is important because it provides an optimistic basis for transformation.
Human Nature, Perfectibility and History by M.K. Gandhi
Mar 16, 2021 Gandhian Economics for a New World Culture
Dr. Shobana Nelasco, Professor, Development Economist and Researcher in South Asian Studies, will join us on this occasion to share her concept of Gandhian economics. She has recently edited a volume on M.K. Gandhi: Gandhi, A Global Perspective.

Gandhian Economics
by Dr. Shobana Nelasco

Mar 23, 2021 Elegant Simplicity
Reflections on what it means to live simply, by Satish Kumar, from his book "Elegant Simplicity." How can this concept apply in the 21st century?

Click here for video of Satish Kumar speaking on "Elegant Simplicity"

Click here for article on Soil, Soul and Society by Satish Kumar

Mar 30, 2021 Economic and Moral Progress
Gandhi makes the case that economic progress is often antagonistic to moral progress, and he explains the nature of voluntary poverty and its benefits.

Economic and Moral Progress
by M.K. Gandhi


For February we will explore various cultures through their poetry and stories. We will look at what the symbols of transformation and renewal are, and what they tell us about that culture.

Feb 2, 2021

Amanda Gorman and "The Hill We Climb"
U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman caught the attention of the world when she read a poem she had written specifically for the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States. Her poem, "The Hill We Climb," opens with a question about the human condition writ large: "When day comes we ask ourselves / where can we find light in this never-ending shade?" We will look at what she is saying in the poem and what it is saying about the U.S.

Poem: The Hill We Climb

Feb 9, 2021

Japanese Culture through Haiku
A haiku is the world’s shortest poem yet despite its succinct form, it contains the essence of Japanese people’s aesthetics, view of nature, philosophy, thought, and sentiments.

"A brief glimpse,
a poem or two, a piece of history,
some personal experience."
~Allan Cooley

Selected Haiku Poems

Feb 16, 2021

Russian Culture and Its Poetry
The subject of Russian poetry is as vast as the country itself. In this presentation, we will explore its artistic origins – the 'Golden Age' of Russian poetry of the early 19th century, which was the earliest era of Russan poetry as a national art form. Poets we will look at are: Vasily Zhukovsky, Alexander Pushkin, Yevgeny Baratynsky and Mikhail Lermonov.
Selected Russian Poems

Feb 23, 2021

Sindh Poetry and Culture
Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, the 17th century Sindhi poet, has captured the hearts and imagination of the Sindhis, an ethno-linguistic group who are native to the Sindh province of Pakistan. For nearly three hundred years, wherever there are Sindhis, his message of the unity present in diversity is extolled. A glimpse into his poetry reveals the transformative power of his belief in the power of love.

Risalo by Shah Abdul Latif