From the caves of Lascaux, some 16000 years ago, to the current fields of biomimicry, the circular economy and ecological economics, humans have referenced nature as a mentor. But how does nature really work? Can we utilize the accumulated knowledge gathered by the biosphere over 2.5 billion years, and what lessons are relevant to our present struggle, in terms of addressing the great challenges facing us?
Dr Keith Skene: Born in Northern Ireland in 1965, in the beautiful city of Armagh, Keith was educated at the Royal School, Armagh, before gaining a First Class Honours degree in Botany at the University of Dundee. He completed his PhD in 1997, specializing in evolutionary ecology and developmental biology. A former Association of Rhodes Scholars of Australia Scholar, he has carried out fieldwork in the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia. Keith taught for 13 years at the prestigious College of Life Sciences in Dundee. During this time he carried out field research across the planet, from Kenya to the Carpathian mountains, from the Scottish highlands to southwest Australia and from Vietnam to Trinidad. He was appointed as Convenor of the Board of Environmental and Applied Biology in 2008. In 2010, Keith established the Biosphere Research Institute (www.biosri.org), becoming its first director. The Biosphere Research Institute works with businesses, educators and communities in areas of economic and ecological function, focusing on a fundamental dialogue on our place in the earth system. He is the author of four books and over thirty peer-reviewed journal articles, his work being translated into four languages. Writing on ecosystem structure and function, thermodynamics, evolutionary biology, sustainability, design, and economics, he believes that human dignity can only be found within our ecology. He works with a number of business schools (having held visiting fellowships at the University of Leeds Business School and Winchester Business School). He teaches at a number of universities across Europe, including MENDELU in Brno, collaborating with a numerous academics on research, and speaking at a wide range of public events throughout the UK. Keith lives in Angus with his wife, young son and foster children.