Reimagining Human Health
Sponsored by the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College, the Bard Farm, Bard EATS, Bard Center for Civic Engagement, Bard Food Lab part of the Bard Center for the Study of Land, Air, and Water, Bard Office of Sustainability, The Green Fund, and Heermance Farm.
The health concerns of the 21st century have shifted since the discovery of antibiotics in the 1920s. Over the last century, infectious diseases faded from view as the greatest threat to human health. During the same period, chronic inflammatory and noncommunicable diseases like asthma, Alzheimer’s, lupus, arthritis, Crohn’s, IBD, celiac disease, obesity, and others have increased exponentially; noncommunicable diseases now account for over 60 percent of all deaths. These diseases are in part the result of many added pressures from our external environment, resulting in declining air, water, and soil quality. But new research also points to these environmental factors’ impact on the human microbiome—the microorganisms on our skin and in our gut that train our immune system and serve as a filter between ourselves and the world. Alterations in the microbiome are increasingly tied to the rise in chronic diseases. Research is already showing that missing microbes from Cesarean births, massive overuse of antibiotics in food and medicine, hormones produced by stress, and processed foods and chemicals in our environment are impacting our internal ecosystems in ways we are just beginning to understand. We are altering the human microbiome in ways that have potentially radical consequences for our world. Today’s industrial food production and farming methods are a key piece of this disruption of our health.
For this reason, the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College, along with the Bard Farm, Bard EATS, and the Bard Center for the Study of Land, Air, and Water, sponsored an interdisciplinary symposium of leading scientists, medical practitioners, farming experts, and philosophers to ask how it is we can teach and work to address the crisis posed by the threat to the human microbiome.
Watch the Symposium Now >>