Ethnopharmacologic Search For Psychoactive Drugs

Symposium Livestream

23 - 26 May 2022

Livestream Symposium23-26 May 202223-26 MayATTEND
Academy Event

Sep 20 Oct 27 2021

Plant-People Interactions: Ethnobotany in the 21st Century

Featuring: Michael Coe
Dennis McKenna, Glenn Shepard Jr. , Luís Eduardo Luna, Michael Balick , Michael Coe, Michael Wikelman , Orou Gaoue , Paul Cox , Robert Voeks , Tamara Ticktin , Timothy Johns , Tony Cunningham , Ulysses Albuquerque , Victoria Reyes-García , Wade Davis
Organizer(s): McKenna Academy
  • Presented by McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy, in partnership with the Organization for Tropical Studies

    SEPT 20 - OCT 27, 2021.
    6-Week Course. 17 Sessions. 14 Guest Lecturers. 1 Finale Symposium.

    Register now.

    Registration Deadline: Sept 13, 2021.
    Academic Credits: 2, if desired.
    Scholarships available.

    For the first time ever, 14 globally renowned luminary lecturers come together to offer a multi-dimensional virtual expedition to understanding the true value and potential of ethnobotany for our species, as a coevolutionary partner on our planet.

    Ethnobotany has been described as the science of survival. It is the scientific study of the direct interrelationships between plants and people.

    Join a virtual expedition to discover and build a foundation for understanding the importance of traditional ecological knowledge, the diverse ways of seeing and relating to the natural world, the therapeutic use of ancestral plant medicines, and essential roles that ethnobotanists play in helping to aid conservation efforts and knowledge preservation.

    Upon experiencing this virtual journey, you will be able to:

    • Describe a diversity of ways in which plants and their uses have shaped past cultural and historical developments. 
    • Discuss and appreciate the roles of plants in their personal and family daily lives. 
    • Explain the critical roles that plants play in the contemporary world and in a sustainable future. 
    • Discuss the potential of and resurgence of psychedelic research and the ethics of drug development.
    • Build a foundation for understanding the basic elements of botanical sciences.
    • Build a foundation for understanding the basic elements of social sciences.

    Register now.

    Lead Instructor:
    Michael A. Coe earned a bachelor’s of science degree in ethnobotany from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in 2015 and was a recipient of the Richard Evans Schultes Research Award from the Society of Economic Botany in 2016 for his research on ayahuasca. In 2018, he obtained a master’s degree in botany with a focus on evolution, ecology and conservation biology from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. In 2019, he received a Ph.D. in botany with a focus on evolution, ecology and conservation biology from the same university. He is the co-author of The Therapeutic Potential of Ayahuasca (Springer, 2017), Theories and Major Hypotheses in Ethnobotany (Economic Botany, 2017), and author of Most cultural importance indices do no predict cultural keystone status (Human Ecology, 2020). Michael’s research has focused on understanding the patterns and processes surrounding medicinal plant use by testing several theories and hypotheses in ethnobotany proposed recently to facilitate a greater understanding of the roles culturally important plants play among human societies in addition to the factors that influence plant selection, harvest and use-pressure. As such, his work has tested if the fundamental components of species cultural keystone designation were predicted by cultural importance indices, which factors are strong predictors of medicinal plant species use-pressure, and if the current rate of harvest of ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) is sustainable in a localized area of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. Michael’s current research interests include but are not limited to the ritualistic and therapeutic use of ayahuasca and other teacher plants in ethnomedicinal contexts aimed at improving physiological, psychological, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Further, his research interests include also understanding the demographic and population dynamics of ayahuasca in response to harvest pressure, the sustainable harvest limit of ayahuasca, and novel approaches toward sustainable ayahuasca production.

    Guest Lecturer Info: 

    Dennis McKennaDennis Mckenna has conducted interdisciplinary research on the ethnopharmacology of Amazonian traditional medicines for over 40 years. He is a founding Board member of the Heffter Research Institute ( He taught ethnopharmacology at the University of Minnesota from 2000 to 2017. In 2019, he founded The McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy.

    Wade DavisWade Davis is Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 2000 to 2013, he became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2016 and an Honorary Citizen of Colombia in 2018. His many books include One River, Into the Silence and his latest, Magdalena: River of Dreams.

    Luís Eduardo LunaLuis Eduardo Luna has a Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Religion Stockholm University (1989) and an honorary doctoral degree from St. Lawrence, Canton, New York (2002). He retired in 2011 from the Department of Modern Language and Communication at the Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki. He was an Assistant Professor in Anthropology (1994-1998) at the Department of Anthropology of Santa Catarina Federal University (UFSC) in Florianópolis, Brazil. Dr. Luna is the author of Vegetalismo: Shamanism among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon (1986), a co-author with Pablo Amaringo of Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman (1991), and co-author with Slawek Wojtowicz, Rick Strassman and Ede Frecska of Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys Through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies (2008). He is also a co-editor with Steven White of Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine (2000). Dr. Luna is the Director of the Research Center for the Study of Psychointegrator Plants, Visionary Art and Consciousness, Florianópolis, Brazil.

    Tamara TicktinTamara Ticktin is a professor in the School of Life Sciences, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her work focuses on understanding the ways in which local use and management of tropical forests can be compatible with biological and biocultural conservation and restoration.

    Robert Voeks: Robert is a physical geographer (PhD UC Berkeley) with interests in ethnobotany, traditional medicine, and the African Diaspora. I have carried out research in Brazil, Borneo, and Mozambique. My books include: 'Sacred Leaves of Candomble'; 'African Ethnobotany in the Americas'; and 'The Ethnobotany of Eden: Rethinking the Jungle Medicine Narrative'. 

    Michael James WikelmanMichael Winkelman (PhD, University of California–Irvine 1985, MPH, University of Arizona 2002) has engaged in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary research on shamanism, psychedelics, and the alteration of consciousness to identify universal patterns of healing ritual and the underlying biological mechanisms. These findings are presented in Shamans, Priests and Witches (1992), which provides the cross-cultural evidence regarding shamanism; and in Shamanism: A Biopsychosocial Paradigm of Consciousness and Healing (2nd ed., 2010). Shamanism provides a biogenetic model of shamanism and explains the evolutionary origins of these ancient spiritual and ritual healing capacities. This biological and evolutionary approach to human spirituality is expanded in Supernatural as Natural (2008, co-authored with John Baker) and The Supernatural after the Neuro-Turn (2019, co-edited). The role of psychedelics in human evolution and healing has been addressed in many of his publications, most recently in Advances in Psychedelic Medicine (2019, co-edited with Ben Sessa). He recently guest edited a special issue of the Journal of Psychedelic Studies on “Psychedelics in History and World Religions,” documenting the widespread use of entheogens. Winkelman retired from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (Arizona State University) in 2009 and is currently living near Pirenópolis in the central highlands of Brazil where he is developing a permaculture lifestyle while continuing his academic research. He may be reached via email at or through his website, 

    Victoria Reyes-García

    Michael Balick

    Orou Gaoue

    Paul Cox

    Glenn Shepard Jr.

    Tony Cunningham

    Ulysses Albuquerque

    Timothy Johns


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