Consider the Trees with Colin Tudge

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Consider the Trees with Colin Tudge

Immerse yourself in the science and poetry of trees in our new online course Consider the Trees with biologist Colin Tudge.

The Ancient Greeks argued that all things are compounded of earth, air, fire, and water. Trees – drawing water and nutrients from the soil, carbon from the air, and energy from the sun – show that they were absolutely right. Some trees that are alive today were born with the pharaohs – as old as all written history. Truly, they inspire a sense of the sublime.

Yet much of what trees do – including photosynthesis – can only be explained by extending the bounds of modern physics to include quantum phenomena in the everyday. In other words, trees are complex and intelligent. Above all, trees form close and essential relationships with each other and thousands of other species; showing that although competition is a fact of life, cooperation is life’s essence.

Trees are useful too. Cities built from timber could be very pleasant indeed – and trees sequester vast quantities of carbon to counter global warming. Our pre-human ancestors evolved in the trees and we are creatures of the forest still.

Join Colin on a journey to uncover the secret world of trees. Over six richly illustrated video lectures, Colin discusses the taxonomy of trees, the science of photosynthesis and cooperation, reproduction, how trees cope with droughts and fires, and the relationship between trees and humans. You’ll emerge with a better understanding of why trees are so important, and why we need to work to protect them.

We hope you enjoy the illustrations of trees in the course. Many of them are taken from the beautiful Folio Society edition of Colin’s classic book The Secret Life of Trees.

What you get:

Video: six Consider the Trees video lessons

Audio: the option to download and listen to Consider the Trees lessons in podcast form

Downloadable notes: in the Consider Your Trees printable notes you’ll find summaries of each lesson, a taxonomy diagram, a useful guide to classification terms, links to further resources and further reading including guides to trees and agroforestry.

Beautiful taxonomy of trees poster to print out

Exclusive Consider the Trees course forum: here you can chat with fellow students and pose questions to the tutor

Quiz: Test what you have learnt with our fun multiple choice quiz

Certificate: When you pass the quiz you will be issued with a beautiful Idler Academy Certificate of Completion

Meet the Tutor: Exclusive online Q&A session with Colin Tudge on 2 November at 17:00

Course Outline

Lesson One – Trees, Science and the Sublime: Why Trees Are Important (34 minutes)
In this session Colin shares extraordinary facts about the habitats, the majesty and longevity of trees and shows how important they are to the natural world’s survival.

Lesson Two – A Trees’ Who’s Who: The Taxonomy of Trees (53 minutes, plus 17 minutes)
Colin talks us through the evolution and classification of trees, plus a special session on Conifers.

Lesson Three – The Life of Trees: Techniques for Survival (35 minutes)
We look at the ways trees cope with adverse conditions like drought and fire.

Lesson Four – Lots of Sex Please. We’re Trees: How Sex Works for Trees (30 minutes)
Colin describes the systems that trees use to reproduce, often relying on a complex ecosystem of wind, insects and animals that humans disturb at their peril.

Lesson Five – The Social Life of Trees: Cooperation and Competition (23 minutes)
In this session Colin shows the various ways trees cooperate with each other as well as with fungi, parasites, animals and insects.

Lesson Six – Trees and Us: A New Mindset (20 minutes)
Colin argues that deforestation is not necessary and shows what can be done to grow more trees and enhance the chances of all forms of life in the world.

About the tutor

Consider the Trees with Colin TudgeColin Tudge is a biologist by education and a writer by trade. He is author of about 15 books on natural history, evolution, genetics, ecology – and, in particular, on nutrition, cooking, and enlightened agriculture. His book The Secret Life of Trees (Penguin Books) has been described as ‘Wondrous and important’ (Guardian), ‘Wonderful, invaluable and timely’ (Daily Mail), and ‘Magnificent’ (Oldie).

He worked for Farmers Weekly, New Scientist, and BBC Radio 3 before going freelance in about 1990.

Around 2008, together with his wife Ruth (West) and help from good friends, he began the Campaign for Real Farming — which has given rise to the Oxford Real Farming Conference and the still peripatetic but ever-growing College for Real Farming and Food Culture. The aim is to help bring about a global, cross-the-board Renaissance – beginning with food and farming.

Colin’s latest book is The Great Re-Think: A 21st Century Renaissance (Parl Publishing)