Education for a radically new world.

Biologists tell us that for the last four billion years, life’s evolution has been driven entirely by random genetic mutation. Starting in our lifetime, however, biological evolution on this planet will now be guided — at least in part — by the conscious choices of the human species. This new genetic power obviously holds enormous promise, but it will also require coming generations to wrestle with staggeringly complex questions. Which species should we reinvent and — more importantly — what goals and values should guide our decisions?

In this area, and also in many others, humanity’s new planetary power will force young people to confront previously unimaginable questions. Because we can no longer anticipate the challenges our children will face, we need to offer them an entirely new form of education. Instead of asking students questions to which we already know the answers, we must encourage them to ask new questions and we must help them follow the threads of their curiosity towards new answers. YourCosmos classes are specifically designed to foster this type of imaginative inquiry.

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Our holistic approach to science

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
— Naturalist John Muir

The universe most young people learn about in school is disjointed and even incoherent. As one example, our schools regularly send children directly from chemistry class — where they learn that feelings are simply illusions created by neurotransmitters — to English class, where emotions are treated as utterly real and crucially important. Unfortunately, our educational system has accepted this incoherence so thoroughly that it makes no effort to resolve or even to acknowledge it.

At YourCosmos, we’re committed to helping young people make sense of these contradictory messages. To support students in asking how a human world organized by meaning and emotions connects to a physical world organized by mathematical laws, all of our courses are radically interdisciplinary. By weaving across the traditional boundaries between physics, biology, history, art, and psychology, we help students come to their own conclusions about the relationship between the human mind and the physical cosmos.

For students who will be returning to traditional schools once the pandemic ends, this interdisciplinary approach can be especially valuable. While most schools treat academic disciplines as distinct silos, our students learn to appreciate the profound connections between the physical sciences, the life sciences, and the social sciences. This holistic perspective makes school — and the cosmos itself — much more meaningful.

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To help you if YourCosmos is right for you, we offer free phone consultations.

Meet our principal instructor,

Ari Makridakis

After graduating from Amherst College in 1996, I spent almost twenty years tutoring students in every branch of middle and high school science and math. Teaching biology, chemistry, physics, geometry, algebra, and calculus every week for two decades has provided me with unique and powerful teaching tools — now I can easily follow students wherever their curiosity leads, and I can also help them explore the cosmos as one interconnected whole.

Over my years of tutoring, I became increasingly frustrated with our mainstream educational system. At the end of every lesson, I would ask students why they should care about what they had just learned, and it pained me to see them struggle to find a reason. To help young people explore the many fantastically interesting aspects of current science, I founded YourCosmos in 2015. Since then, I’ve watched hundreds of students rediscover their love of learning and also their sense of belonging to a wondrous universe.

To fan the flames of my own fascination, I’ve spent the last five years pursuing a Ph.D. with cosmologist Brian Swimme. I am currently completing my dissertation, which explores what complex natural systems can teach us about the cosmos and humanity’s place within it.

In addition to being a teacher and student, I’m also a visual artist. I attended the San Francisco Art Institute after college, and since then, I’ve ceaselessly created paintings and digital interactive art. Recently, I spent a great deal of time making improvised video art in collaboration with an electronic musician. Together, we’ve played hundreds of shows across the country to audiences as big as 10,000 people. Staying committed to my creative dreams has made me both a more fulfilled person and also a more inspiring teacher — when students feel my passion, it helps them to connect to their own.

Rosie Kalashyan

Program Coordinator

Rosanna is blessed with organizational superpowers, which she uses to ensure that all our programs run as smoothly as Swiss watches. She can answer all your questions about scheduling, and she can also respond to any technical or logistical issues that arise over the course of the YourCosmos semester.
In addition to supporting the YourCosmos community, Rosanna is pursuing a Master’s degree in Jungian psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Bree Rosenblum

Guest Instructor

Bree is currently a Professor of Global Change Biology at UC Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. She received her B.A. from Brown University and her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.

Bree’s research focuses on understanding the biological diversity of our planet. How are new species formed? Why are species being lost at such an alarming rate today? Bree loves to share her inspiration for studying life on our changing planet with students of all ages.

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