Strachan Donnelley

Strachan Donnelley

Founder - Center for Humans and Nature (1942–2008)

The Center for Humans and Nature was founded in 2003 by Strachan Donnelley, a self-described “fly-fishing philosopher” who saw an urgent need for an organization dedicated to exploring humans and nature relationships. From formative early years hunting wild ducks on Illinois marshes, Donnelley dedicated his life to first experiencing, and then trying to understand, the natural world and the human place within it.

A career in philosophy and bioethics, fueled equally by trout streams and conversation around lively conference tables, convinced Donnelley of the pernicious threat of reductionistic, silo thinking. In order to meet the socio-ecological challenges of our time, Donnelley felt passionately that we must call for big ideas from all corners of the thinking world: biologists, ecologists, economists, engineers, poets, artists, philosophers and more. It was in this spirit that Donnelley founded the Center, with the belief that by bringing deep and diverse thinkers around the same table, the lively exchange of ideas might lead to truly big ideas. It is also this spirit that, in Donnelley’s absence, inspires and guides, which seeks to expand the table to include anyone who wants to think deeply about humans and nature together.

His book, Frog Pond Philosophy, was published posthumously in 2018. The collection of essays was co-edited by his daughter Ceara Donnelley and Senior Fellow Bruce Jennings, and the vivid and personal essays, rooted in everyday experiences, offer a distinctive perspective on questions of urgent contemporary importance.

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