Image Courtesy of Creative Politics



In celebration of the 51st Earth Day, April 22, 2021, Institute founder Frank Islam wrote a piece for the Meridian Foundation titled Earth Day: A Day To Renew Our Commitment To Defeat Climate Change that outlines our views on how to take on the existential challenge of our time.  From climate to COVID, the planet seems to be trying to tell us something about the way we organize and conduct our lives, in contrast to the creatures great and small we share the orb with. As a new special feature of the site, we’ve begun collecting what we’re learning the natural world has to teach us.  We hope you find what we’re finding both enjoyable and provocative–we’ll be updating it regularly going forward…



The synchronized movements of large flocks of birds and schools of fish have long been one of nature’s greatest spectacles and mysteries; the ancient Greeks believed they were the result of whispers of the gods.  As scientists close in on the secrets, two qualities, in particular, are coming to the fore: grassroots and egalitarian… Learn More




Are we born racist or is it something that, in the words of South Pacific, “has to be carefully taught?”  Work with laboratory rats at the University of Chicago suggests the truth is both neither and somewhere in between, and that familiarity breeds anything but contempt… Learn More




Birds of a feather don’t always flock together, and when they join together in mixed groups instead, the dynamics of the assemblage look a lot more like the American ideal than the nation we appear to live in today–or any other country on earth… Learn More




Primatologist Frans de Waal first coined the term ‘alpha male,’ but his subsequent work on the evolution of leadership in nature has shown the qualities that propel these exceptional individuals to the top (and keep them there) are not what we’ve been told by those who have twisted the term to justify the status quo… Learn More




We’ve thought the Internet was a threat to democracy; we thought we invented it, too.  But it turns out that trees and fungi beat us to it long ago, and they’ve been using the “wood wide web” for what seems to be, fairly unambiguously, the good of all concerned… Learn More




Yes, there really is a “pecking order” among bird groups, but research with homing pigeons, whose navigation capabilities far exceed our own–is showing these hierarchies are more flexible, context-dependent, meritocratic, and democratic than all but the most progressive American workplaces… Learn More