JOURNEY OF THE UNIVERSE: CONVERSATIONS is an expansive, multidisciplinary project that re-imagines the universe story and the human role in the flourishing of the Earth community. The series invites viewers to become fellow travelers on an immense journey from the beginnings of the universe, to the origins of life, to our current emergence as a planetary presence.
Hosted by Yale Senior Lecturer Mary Evelyn Tucker, the 10 hour / 20-part /4 disc series integrates the perspectives of the sciences and the humanities into a retelling of our 14 billion year story. “Conversations” with scientists, historians, and environmentalists explores the unfolding story of Earth, the universe and the role of humans in responding to our present challenges. The series contains interviews and conversations with an broad array of great minds.
“Discussing relevant matters, interviewees range from physicists Joel Primack and Todd Duncan elaborating about the Big Bang and Earth’s formation; to biologist Ursula Goodenough and anthropologist Terry Deacon illuminating the origins of life and mankind’s ascent up the species chain; to high-profile nuns Paula Gonzalez and Marya Grathwohl speaking on sustainability and trying to reform convicts with a redemptive message of cosmology. The global-warming-influenced ethical message here—i.e. that humans are interconnected with the environment and must assume responsibility as stewards—is at the heart of the Earth Charter, which aims to build a “just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. Recommended.” – Video Librarian
“…empowering, inspiring, and provides the preconditions of human adaptation and survival”
– Orion Magazine
Available on DVD as a 4-disc collection, the 20 subjects covered in the extensive series are listed below along with each episodes run time:
Introduction by Mary Evelyn Tucker 5:16
- Beginning of the Universe 20:57
Joel Primack, Distinguished Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz describes the emergence of the universe, the universe’s expansion, and the formation of the first elements, stars, and galaxies. This conversation also includes explanations of cold dark matter and dark energy.
- Galaxies Forming 20:56
Todd Duncan, Science Integration Institute, Portland, and Joel Primack, Distinguished Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz explore the formation of galaxies from the hot, energetic state of the early universe. These interviews cover topics ranging from the shapes of galaxies to the formation of the Milky Way.
- The Emanating Brilliance of Stars 22:30
Joel Primack, Distinguished Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz and Todd Duncan, Science Integration Institute, Portland describes the emergence and death of stars. They trace the elements found in all life on Earth, including those found in our bodies, back to supernova explosions.
- The Birth of the Solar System 24:50
Craig Kochel, Geology Department, Bucknell University describes the evolution of our solar system and its planets. Included in this conversation are the origins of the Moon, the creative dynamism of plate tectonics, and the impact of geology on Earth’s biology.
- Life’s Emergence 30:23 $3.50
Ursula Goodenough, Biology Department, Washington University and Terry Deacon, Anthropology Department, University of California, Berkeley explore the complexities of the emergence of the first cells and the intricate patterning found in DNA and multicellular organisms.
- Learning, Living, and Dying 38:04
The evolution of the brain is a story of adaptation, consciousness, and responsiveness that begins with single celled organisms and continues through the vertebrates. Here, Terry Deacon, Anthropology Department, University of California, Berkeley compares the adaptive brains of humans, chimpanzees, and our many evolutionary ancestors.
- The Passion of Animals 20:18
Scott Sampson, Utah Museum of Natural History, University of Utah tells the compelling story of Earth’s fossil record. Touching on topics ranging from the ancient ecosystems of dinosaurs to the co-evolution of the human with other species, this interview highlights the importance of understanding mass extinctions.
- The Origin of the Human 31:15
Drawing upon the history of early humans and highlighting contemporary indigenous lifeways, John Grim, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University andMelissa Nelson, American Indian Studies, San Francisco State University explain the sustaining power of ritual and celebratory acts that locate humans within the rhythms of Earth’s transformative systems.
- Becoming a Planetary Presence 23:44
Cynthia Brown, Professor Emerita, Dominican University of California describes the “big history” approach to understanding the role of the human in relation to the historical unfolding of the cosmos and Earth. She highlights key threshold moments of evolutionary change.
- Breakthrough Communities 26:32
Carl Anthony, Founder, Breakthrough Communities, Oakland, California tells how the universe story expanded his own understanding of race and environmental justice. With a focus on urban and metropolitan areas, he explains the practical implications of a functional cosmology for sustainable community development.
- Eco-Cities 25:57
By emphasizing an organic and evolutionary whole-city perspective, Richard Register, Ecocity Builders, Berkeley draws attention to the imaginative ways in which cities are being rethought and rebuilt around the planet for a flourishing, sustainable future.
- Ecological Economics 24:25
Richard Norgaard, Energy and Resources Program, University of California, Berkeley surveys the history of human economies and the myths and premises of current economic practices. In place of our ecologically destructive practices, he endorses an ecological economics that emphasizes care, co-evolution, and protection from the environment.
- Permaculture 23:28
Penny Livingston, Regenerative Design Institute, Bolinas, California leads viewers through the history and significance of permaculture. She discusses permaculture as an agricultural practice that increases biodiversity and helps us to understand our place in the story of the universe.
- Indigenous Ways of Knowing 32:04
David Begay, Adjunct Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Northern Arizona University and Nancy Maryboy, President and Founder of Indigenous Education Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico invite us to understand Navajo ways of knowing. They describe a worldview that is place-based, emphasizes kinship and connection, and intimately orients the human within an interrelated and unified cosmos.
- Sustainable Energy 22:36
Paula Gonzalez, SC, EarthConnection, Cincinnati narrates the efforts of Catholic sisters to harness solar power and other natural systems as a means of protecting the Earth community and participating in the story of the universe.
- Healing and Revisioning 16:41
Belvie Rooks, Co-Found, Growing a Global Heart, Elk, California describes how teaching the story of the universe has empowered African American youth to contextualize slavery, envision healing and reconciliation, and image a better future through a broader sense of self and of place.
- Arts and Justice 27:48
Whether through poetry and activism, the study of science, or participating in a Crow Sundance, Drew Dellinger, Founder, Planetize the Movement, Berkeley and Marya Grathwohl, OSF, Writer and Founder, Earth Hope, Wyoming express shared visions of creative transformation that are inspired by the journey of the universe.
- Myth, Metaphors and Identities 19:58
Nancy Abrams, Attorney and Co-Author, “The New Universe and the Human Future” and Sachiko Kawaura, Department of Psychology and Human Relations, Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan highlight the role of myth, metaphor, and art in broadening and deepening our understanding of human identity within a cosmological context.
- Teaching Journey of the Universe 31:32
Tom Collins, Religion and Philosophy Department, The Lawrenceville School, Princeton, New Jersey and Bindu Mohanty, Teacher, Auroville, Indiana describe how learning the universe story has allowed high school and college students to experience an expanded sense of self and to transform despair into a sense of hope and empowerment.
- Transition/Conclusion hosted by Mary Evelyn Tucker (no charge/presented as bonus material for the series)
“Journey of the Universe: Conversations brings together scholars from the fields of physics, science, geology, philosophy, and religious studies to discuss a wide range of themes pertaining to the emergence of the universe, earth, life, our species, and our survival in a multi-part lecture series” – Pop Matters
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