Gregory Bateson and the Ecology of Mind
An Initiative in the Public Humanities

Coordinated by Stephen Nachmanovitch and Ira Bashkow

Gregory Bateson's youngest daughter Nora Bateson, of Vancouver, has recently completed a documentary film about her father, An Ecology of Mind. This profound and beautiful film offers a cinematic translation of his ideas, explicating them with clarity and emotional depth. It is now on the international festival circuit and has won several awards. See

Stephen Nachmanovitch, of Charlottesville, was one of Bateson’s closest students, earning a Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness with Bateson in 1975 for a study of William Blake. A musician, author, educator, and multimedia artist, Nachmanovitch continues to write and teach about Bateson and was a consultant on the Bateson film. He is the author of Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art. See

Stephen Nachmanovitch and Nora Bateson were both keynote performers at the joint conference of the American Society for Cybernetics and the Bateson Idea Group, An Ecology of Ideas, July 9‐13, 2012, in California.

Ira Bashkow teaches cultural anthropology at the University of Virginia and is the author of The Meaning of Whitemen: Race and Modernity in the Orokaiva Cultural World. His interest in Gregory Bateson grows out of his historical research with Lise Dobrin on Bateson's wife, the anthropologist Margaret Mead, and her fieldwork in New Guinea. He is currently writing a new book, An Anthropological Theory of the Corporation.

Panelists for the symposium on Friday, April 12

… with Nora Bateson, Stephen Nachmanovitch, Ira Bashkow and …

Angeline Lillard, Professor of Psychology, is a leading researcher on children’s pretend play and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.  She received the American Psychological Association Outstanding Dissertation Award in 1992 and the Boyd McCandless Award for Distinguished Early Career Contribution in 1999, a James McKeen Cattell sabbatical award in 2005-6, and the Cognitive Development Society Book Award for Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius in 2006.

Herbert Tucker has taught since 1986 in the English Department, where he holds the John C. Coleman Professorship. He has written several books and many articles on 19th-century literature, and is the editor of several anthologies of critical essays. His website For Better for Verse offers a guided interactive tutorial in the understanding of metered poetry. He is associate editor for the UVa-based journal New Literary History, where Gregory Bateson’s ideas on culture and cognition are not strangers.

Katie King is Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Fellow of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH). She is the author of Theory in its Feminist Travels (Indiana) and Networked Reenactments: Stories transdisciplinary knowledges tell (Duke). Her website is here.

Sandra Seidel serves undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences as an Assistant Dean and Associate Professor of Biology. Her commitment to science education and health literacy is shared with students through course offerings which include Human Biology and Disease; What Makes Us Tick - cardiovascular physiology, and Science with no Borders - an integrated science University seminar course.  

Phillip Guddemi, the president of the Bateson Idea Group, was an undergraduate student of Gregory Bateson’s at UC Santa Cruz in the 1970s. He is an anthropologist who did Ph.D. fieldwork in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea. Currently his fields of interest are cybernetics and biosemiotics, and he is managing editor of the journal, Cybernetics and Human Knowing.

Kurtis R. Schaeffer (Ph.D. Harvard '00) is Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He studies the cultural history of Tibet, and teaches courses on Tibet, Buddhism, and religion. His recent publications include The Culture of the Book in Tibet (Columbia 2009) and Sources of Tibetan Tradition (Columbia 2013).

Manuel Lerdau is Professor of Environmental Sciences and of Biology at the University of Virginia. He studies interactions and feedbacks among plants, soils, and the atmosphere. He has examined the relationships between Evolutionary Biology and large-scale environmental change and has also worked on the maintenance of diversity in complex systems such as tropical rain forests. He is currently studying how evolutionary theories of plant function can translate to both cellular and biogeochemical scales.