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The Worldview of Thomas Berry (Study Group)

with Shirley Pevarnik
Registration Closed




Join a DTN facilitated study group to accompany a Coursera course on Thomas Berry
Facilitated by Shirley Pevarnik

Thomas Berry, and his landmark work in understanding the universe, and humanity’s place within it, is foundational to the work we’re doing on the Deeptime Network.  The Coursera course on Berry developed by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim is an excellent way to study his work.  Taking the course with a study group will further help you to understand his deep insights about the nature of the universe and our place within it.  We will share our own shift in consciousness that will unfold as we discover together the New Story at deeper levels.   Thomas Berry would have turned 105 on November 9.  To honor his birthday, Sr. Gail Worcelo, founder of Green Mountain Monastery, will join us on November 11 to talk about how Thomas guided her in founding the monastery.   Pre-eminent Thomas Berry scholar Mary Evelyn Tucker will join us for the sixth and last session to discuss insights about today and shifting toward an Ecozoic era.

Description of the Course on Coursera

Thomas Berry (1914-2009) was a historian of world religions and an early voice awakening moral sensibilities to the environmental crisis. He is known for articulating a “new story” of the universe that explores the implications of the evolutionary sciences and cultural traditions for a new understanding of the universe, our place within it, and creating a flourishing future.

The Coursera course investigates Berry’s life and thought in relation to the Journey of the Universe project. It draws on his books, articles, and recorded lectures to examine such ideas as: the New Story, the Great Work, and the emerging Ecozoic era. The course explores Berry’s insights into cosmology as a context for locating the human in a dynamic unfolding universe and thus participating in the creative work of our times. In particular, we will examine Berry’s reflections on renewal and reform in the areas of ecology, economics, education, spirituality, the arts, and jurisprudence.

A recently published book — Thomas Berry: A Biography, by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim — provides an overview of his life and work.


Course Rationale:

Thomas Berry was an original, creative, and comprehensive thinker, especially regarding the critical nature of our global environmental crisis. His intellectual importance resides in his response to the ecological crisis by bringing together the humanities and science in an evolutionary narrative. In addition, he articulated the need for the moral participation of the world religions in addressing environmental issues. He came to this realization largely through his study of cosmologies embedded within religious traditions. Sensing the significance of these stories as “functional cosmologies” he explored the widespread influence that these stories transmitted through a tradition, for example, in rituals, ethics, and stories.

How the Study Group Works:

The Coursera course is six weeks long, starting on October 21. Each week participants will read articles and watch videos on Coursera and then meet with the DTN Zoom discussion group each Monday at 7:00 PM EST beginning on October 28th.


Who is this for?

  • Everyone who wants to delve deeply into the work of Thomas Berry and it’s significant implications for the future of our planet.
  • Teachers who want to frame their curriculum inside the Story of the Universe.
  • Montessori teachers in particular will be interested in how the work of Thomas Berry compliments the work of Maria Montessori, particularly the Cosmic Education curriculum.



Registration Steps

There are two: 1) on DTN and 2) another on Coursera

  1. Register for the DTN discussion group by clicking above.
  2. Register on Coursera for the Thomas Berry Course by clicking here. It’s free!  You will receive emails from DTN about next steps.


Thomas Berry: A Biography





Shirley Pevarnik has an MLA in Creation Spirituality from Naropa University She facilitates Ecozoic groups, discussion

groups on the New Story, and workshops based on the work of Joanna Macy and the work that reconnects. Most recently she has facilitated Active Hope groups and discussions on Climate Change and the work of Thomas Berry.  Shirley was a good friend and student of Thomas Berry. She has been lucky enough to have lived most of her life with the prickly pear cactus and javelina in the Sonoran and Chihuanuan deserts in Arizona and New Mexico. A teacher and social worker, she is also a long time social and environmental justice activist. After being arrested many times and brooding over why we humans behave the way we do, she was fortunate enough to finally hear Thomas Berry talk about his own brooding. What a relief to finally realize it was okay to brood and to finally understand that we humans are the story animal. We understand our place in the world with story. However, the story we have been taught is one that teaches us we are separate from the Earth, each other, and even our own bodies. This discontinuity with our larger self has caused us to not only destroy our planet but not realize our own potential. To that extent Shirley was motivated to also study with Matthew Fox, Joanna Macy, Brian Swimme, and many others who were influenced by Thomas. Shirley loves building community especially with those who are moved by the work of Thomas Berry and looks forward to supporting and sharing what will unfold in us as we explore Berry’s new worldview together.


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