How Understanding Bears Can Save the Planet: The Transformative Work of Charlie Russell and the Bears

Gay Bradshaw · August 17, 2021

Course Description

Prior to European colonization, Bears and humans thrived together in North America. After colonization, Bears were viewed as enemies. Bears of all species were hunted down and slaughtered to near extinction. The myth of Bears as dangerous, unpredictable menaces is still ingrained in the mind of the public, scientists, and policy. Charlie Russell was an exception.
Charlie Russell’s understanding and relationships with free living Bears was unsurpassed. Drawing from Charlie’s seven decades of experiences and observations and threaded with western science, this course explores how, by adopting his science, ethics, and philosophy, humans can make the necessary transformation for restoring health and wellness to ourselves and the planet.
This six-part online course builds on Gay Bradshaw’s Talking with Bears: Conversations with Charlie Russell, and delves deeply into the lives and minds of Bears through the lens of Russell’s experiences. Through lessons from the Bears, we hear voices of other teachers who advocate for the embrace of a new, but ancient, way of being—what Richard Rohr refers to as nondual thinking, Eckhart Tolle, presence, Thich Nhat Hanh, loving kindness, and quantum physicist David Bohm, wholeness.
Join us as we step beyond the awesome fascination of Bears and Charlie to look “under the hood” to study his theory of Nature and how he came to understand Bears the way he did.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain how Charlie Russell’s science and understanding of Bears is predicted by neuroscience
  • Explore how adopting this view is personally and socially transformative
  • Investigate how this view resonates with other nondualist traditions
  • Explore how this view and approach translates to everyday living and to policy
  • Acquire knowledge and understanding that increases your communication skills and expertise in support of Bears

Course Structure

There are six prerecorded lectures followed by questions for your reflection. Prior to each session, participants are asked to read assigned readings which draw from two main required texts: Talking with Bears: Conversations with Charlie Russell (TB) and Carnivore Minds: Who these Fearsome Beings Really Are (CM).
Additional texts, links, videos and articles are provided with each session. Individual discussion sessions can be arranged by request to

Required Texts

Bradshaw, G. A. (2020). Talking with Bears: Conversations with Charlie Russell. Rocky Mountain Books.
Bradshaw, G. A. (2017). Carnivore Minds: Who these Fearsome Animals Really Are. Yale University Press.

Recommended Text

Towe, B., ed. (2018). Bert Riggall’s Greater Waterton: A Conservation LegacyFifth House Publishers.

About Instructor

Gay Bradshaw

Dr. Bradshaw holds doctorate degrees in ecology and psychology, and has published, taught, and lectured widely in these fields both in the U.S. and internationally. She is the author of Pulitzer Prize-nominated Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity, published by Yale University Press, an in-depth psychological portrait of Elephants in captivity and in the wild. Dr. Bradshaw’s work focuses on trans-species psychology, the theory and methods for the study and care of Animal psychological well-being and multi-species cultures. Her research expertise includes the effects of violence on and trauma recovery Elephants, Grizzly Bears, Chimpanzees, and Parrots, and other species in captivity.

13 Courses

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Course Includes

  • 6 Lessons