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Friendship with the More than Human World
Friendship with the More than Human World

Tue, 02 May



Friendship with the More than Human World

Join us for the official launch the Kincentric Leadership programme! We'll be talking with South African wilderness guide Sicelo Mbatha and animal behaviourist Dr Christine Webb, exploring themes of empathy, awareness and friendship with the more than human world.

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Time & Location

02 May 2023, 18:30 – 20:30 BST


About the event

There is a revolution going on in the world of science that is challenging the mechanistic view of life.  Scientists are increasingly discovering that plants and animals have sophisticated forms of intelligence and many different ways of communicating. Meanwhile, many indigenous cultures have long portrayed the more than human world as having full personhood and agency and being able to 'talk' to humans as well as to their own kind.  

This conversation will draw together those threads and explore questions around new and old ways of understanding non-human beings. We'll explore where the experiences of a Harvard scientist and an African wilderness guide meet. We'll ask how evidence of empathy in animals might change our understandings of rights and ethics. We'll look at how reconciliation is witnessed in the animal kingdom, and where there might be a need for reconciliation between humans and animals. We'll ask about what kinds of awareness might change our experiences in nature.  And we'll explore whether real friendship is possible with the more than human world and what that might mean. 

We'll explore what kincentric leadership looks like in the lives of our speakers. We'll build a bridge between cultures and contexts, and see what lessons we can take into our own lives and practice. 

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Christine Webb PhD

Christine received a PhD in Psychology from Columbia University (2015), where she studied individual differences in reconciliation behavior in humans and chimpanzees. Before joining Harvard’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology as a College Fellow, she continued studying conflict resolution through post-doctoral fellowships in The Netherlands and France in collaboration with the Tsaobis Baboon Project. Her most recent research focuses on consolation and other markers of empathy; her latest projects include a largescale comparative study between chimpanzees at Chimfunshi wildlife orphanage and bonobos at Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary, and a cross-cultural study of empathy’s development in humans across diverse Indonesian societies. Simultaneously, she has a growing passion for animal ethics and dismantling notions of human exceptionalism, particularly in science, and was last seen pronouncing humans the most arrogant ape. Read more about Christine and her work here

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Sicelo Mbatha

Sicelo is a spiritual nature guide working through his organisation Umkhiwane Sacred Pathways. He has dedicated his life to fostering deep connections between humans and nature. He believes that this medicine is needed to heal the world from the wounds of environmental destruction and social injustice. Drawing from his Zulu culture and a yearning to better understand human's relationship to nature, Sicelo has forged a new path to nature with an immersive, respectful and transformative way of being in the wilderness. His book, Black Lion, is an urgent reminder of how much we need wilderness for our emotional and spiritual survival.

Sicelo grew up alongside the Huhluwe/Imfolozi nature reserve in South Africa, and nature has always been his medicine, his teacher and his spiritual home. He invites you to connect with the indigenous wisdom of his people, and with his local communities, and find your soul through the spirit of our collective humanness, or ubuntu. Read more about Sicelo here

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