Harvard HILR Course


Learning From Nature: Biomimicry

Ten weeks- 2/28/19-5/9/19 (next session TBD)

Course Description:

Welcome to biomimicry! A discipline that has been rediscovered over the past 20 years, helped by the publication of Janine Benyus’s book Biomimicry. The idea of learning from nature has always been with us, but largely forgotten as we focused on taking from nature rather than learning over the past 150 years.

This course will provide an introduction to biomimicry by examining recent developments in the understanding of nature and successful utilization of her successes to solve a number of challenges in a wide range of different areas. Innovations inspired by nature such as: a high speed train that became quieter, faster and more efficient by learning from the Kingfisher, termite mound ‘air-conditioning’ that maintains a constant temperature, and cement that uses CO2 to make the product through a mechanism that copies coral production, versus traditional cement that releases CO2 and many more. 

Nature’s R&D lab has been in business for over 3 billion years. As a result, life has evolved to thrive everywhere on this planet, including in extremely severe conditions.Labs at universities here and around the world including Harvard, MIT, Northeastern and many more are studying plants and animals from microscopic to whales for new solutions. As Albert Einstein reminded us, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better”

Assigned readings will include much, but not all, of two books: Biomimicry by Janine Benyus and The Sharks Paintbrush by Jay Harman. In addition we will use a number of videos and recent articles. The course will include both lectures and discussion, and at least one guest speaker. It is my hope that this course will both fun and informative for all of us.