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The Center proposes to launch a three-year series addressing the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

For this three-year project, the Center would engage a series of Senior Scholars and Contributors to offer short essays (inspired by JTF’s Big Questions Essay Series), journal articles, TED-type video talks, and roundtable discussions (moderated by Krista Tippett, as part of On Being programming) addressing three iterations of the question: What does it mean to be human? Our particular interest in this question lies in exploring what it means to be a moral being.

Connecting the ideas of leading thinkers with our target audiences, including the means by which we engage these audiences, is a central opportunity of this project. Our target audiences include: conservation leaders and decision makers, emerging conservation leaders, and a more “general public” (such as those who would visit a natural history museum, peruse TED or listen to NPR).

There is an increasing sense across these groups that something is awry—that we need new solutions for, and insights into, humanity’s intractable problems. But what is actually causing those problems, and thwarting their solution? The starting point for the Center for Humans and Nature’s work is the belief that the root of the challenges we face today lies in how we see ourselves and relate with each other and the world. Through the proposed series, the Center seeks to engage our target audiences to reflect on the “big question” of who we are, offering cutting edge insights from across the disciplines in an accessible and democratic format. Ultimately, through this project, our goal is to offer a space for people to change their own minds about who we are as human beings—and who we might become.