Discover Nature’s Genius for Social Innovation

Discover Nature’s Genius for Social Innovation October 2-8, 2023 | Tennessee

Through a cross-pollination of the fields of social innovation and biomimicry, this seven-day immersion will explore the lessons nature has to teach us about creating a more adaptable, resilient, cooperative, and networked world. It’s a results-driven approach that’s been used by organizations of all kinds—from corporations to nonprofits to government entities—to solve some of their toughest challenges and create a better way of doing business: changing how we make change. Discover how nature’s genius can help grow resilient organizations and foster a regenerative society abundant with innovative leaders.

This workshop is offered in partnership with Biomimicry for Social Innovation. This is our seventh year of collaborating in this space and we are excited to bring you the “best of” all we’ve learned and practiced over the years.

Registration is Closed

What To Expect

Every immersion workshop is tailored to the local ecosystem, ensuring each day is brimming with content and exploration. You should plan to clear your agenda and fully immerse yourself in the biomimicry experience!

Our home base is the Well Being Retreat Center, a non-profit retreat and wellness center located on 160 acres in rural, scenic Northeast Tennessee. The Center’s beautiful meadows are surrounded by two miles of the Powell River, described by the US Fish & Wildlife Services as “one of the most biologically diverse rivers in a temperate climate anywhere in the world.” We’ll be mentored by freshwater mussels and great blue herons as we hike the wooded ridges and kayak the free flowing river, reflecting on the breadth and endurance of nature’s genius. It makes for a jam-packed week of biomimicry-based exploration.

In this workshop, we will look at nature’s strategies in three areas that are most relevant for leaders of social innovation:

Context: becoming attuned to your environment, understanding your context and how it is affected by selection pressure, using feedback loops to adapt as conditions change

Relationships: types of symbiotic relationships, factors for effective collaboration and co-evolution, fostering self-organized networks to advance change

Change: adaptation, resilience in the face of disruption, succession through stages of development

Over the course of the workshop, our expert biomimicry instructors will teach participants to:

  • Practice applying biomimicry thinking to individual and team challenges
  • Define leadership challenges for which nature’s examples can best provide solutions
  • Re-imagine organizational leadership, strategy, planning, and operations with inspiration from healthy and evolving ecosystems
  • Apply the biomimicry process to model teams and organizations after healthy and evolving ecosystems and to become skillful at adaptive change
  • Be part of a diverse learning network guiding the growth of biomimetic applications for organizational development and social innovation
  • Apply design lessons from nature that can help grow resilient organizations and foster a regenerative society


What can you expect to experience while you Discover Nature’s Genius for Social Innovation in Tennessee?

Here’s a preview of what each day will include (sample agenda subject to adjustments):

Day 1: Meet the group at the Knoxville McGee Tyson Airport (TYS) Airport for the shuttle to the Well Being Center. Settle in at the venue and spend the afternoon getting oriented to biological wonders of the Powell River Valley while getting to know your fellow participants. We’ll provide an overview on how organizational leadership, strategy, planning and operations can draw inspiration from healthy, evolving ecosystems.

Day 2: During the first full day at the Well Being Retreat, you’ll be introduced to Biomimicry Thinking tools and methodology. Immerse yourself in the new skills as you meet the species in the Powell River Valley. Practice seeing with your new biomimicry lenses.

Day 3: Begin honing your observation skills through exploration of the cedar forest and adjacent meadows. Explore nature’s resilience strategies while connecting with Life’s Principles, a Biomimicry 3.8 tool that summarizes how life survives and thrives on Earth, and how our organizations and systems might too.

Day 4: Deepen your understanding of Life’s Principles as we kayak on the Powell River, keeping our eye out for blue herons, beaver, river otter, and bald eagles. Regroup back at the Well Being Retreat Center and discuss the experience of abstracting Life’s Principles in the field. After dinner, we’ll look to apply those lessons through an ecosystem-audit of your own organization or social-change endeavor.

Day 5: We’ll explore one of Tennessee’s largest free flowing rivers for lessons on endurance and flow, as we look to apply design lessons to help grow resilient organizations and foster a regenerative society. We’ll practice applying lessons to model teams and organizations to become skillful at adaptive change. Spend the evening sharing your team’s design ideas inspired by the day’s discoveries.

Day 6: New lessons await as we explore a riparian zone and discuss as a group the dynamics of change in nature. After lunch, spend the rest of the day on a continued journey of discovery into your selected biological phenomena and share with the group what you’ve learned and what ideas it has inspired. Give thanks to the wisdom found in this rich biome and celebrate the final evening of the workshop with the group!

Day 7: Reflections on building the diverse learning network of practitioners of biomimicry in social innovation wraps up our time. We’ll close the workshop after lunch for you to head back to the airport… or stay in the area to continue traveling–either way, the next biomimicry adventure awaits!

Who Should Attend?

This workshop is open to professional and university-level participants from all backgrounds and levels of experience with biomimicry. The agenda is designed for anyone who is interested in learning from healthy and resilient natural systems and applying those insights to the human systems in which we are working, so that we can create a more regenerative society and world. These lessons are useful for organizations and businesses, but also just as compelling for people working in the public sector, or who are interested in adapting their own leadership practices so they can be more effective change agents. 

If your work involves becoming more effective in collaboration, creating robust institutional systems, navigating change in complex conditions or in times of disturbance, communication and adaptation in response to signals …this workshop is for you!

Past participants have come from a wide range of fields: nonprofits, education, public policy, community organizers, faith communities, business and more. The cross-pollination of professional and cultural backgrounds, ideas and experiences will enhance your workshop experience. 

For students enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Biomimicry program with Arizona State University and interested in a Biomimicry Specialist Certification, this Immersion Workshop counts as one of two required in-person units. Learn more about the requirements for the Biomimicry Specialist Certification here.


The all-inclusive price for the workshop includes tuition and course materials; overnight accommodations for six nights; delicious, fresh, and mostly organic meals and snacks; all field trips and activities during the week; transportation from the Knoxville McGee Tyson Airport (TYS) Airport; and administration costs.

The workshop allows for all participants to be onsite contributing to the complete experience. The pricing is a package offering and cannot be discounted to remove lodging or meals. 

The price ranges listed below are based on accommodation choices, with a variety of accommodations available at the Well Being Retreat Center to meet your needs and budget: 

Cabinette | Shared $2,900 or Private $3,200
All Cabinettes are single room cabins w/small fridge and two twin beds located a short walk to restrooms and showers in the Conference Building.

Shared Room in a Cabin or Tiny House | $3,500
These shared rooms include two twin beds, a full bathroom with shower, a kitchenette and a sitting area. 

Private cabin | $4,200
These cabins provide more privacy, have a queen bed, full bath with a shower, a kitchenette and a sitting area.

See photos of the rooms on Well Being’s website.  Rooming types are limited and first come, first served.  

Photo by Nihal Kanbargi

Scholarships and Discounts


A limited number of scholarships are available to BIPOC leaders, change agents working in non-profit social change or climate/environmental organizations, and to students and people with lower incomes who would otherwise not be able to attend. Scholarships will be awarded by the workshop leaders with the purpose of building a broad and diverse cohort and are based solely on your answers on the application. 

The scholarship application period is closed.


  • Student discount: Enrolled university students save $250.
  • ASU Students: Enrolled ASU students save $500. 

All discounts have limited availability, are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, and may not be combined. Details on discounts can be found in the registration form.


Cancellation Policy

Deposits are non-refundable. Cancellation 6+ weeks prior to the workshop, your deposit will become a credit that you can use at a later date or transfer as a gift. Cancellation 4-6 weeks prior to the workshop, a $500 cancellation fee plus incurred expenses will be deducted from your refund amount unless your seat is filled by someone else. Less than one month from the workshop start date, no refunds are permitted, but partial credit towards a future workshop will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If the workshop is canceled for any reason by Biomimicry 3.8, workshop fees will be refunded in full.

Photo by Joe Roger


Dr. Dayna Baumeister | With a devotion to applied natural history and a passion for sharing the genius of nature, Dr. Dayna Baumeister has worked in the field of biomimicry with business partner Janine Benyus since 1998, traveling the world as a biomimicry thought-leader, business consultant, and professor. Together they founded the Biomimicry Guild consulting practice, The Biomimicry Institute 501c3, and  Biomimicry 3.8, a B-Corp social enterprise that helps clients find innovation inspired by nature and offers the highest level of biomimicry training to professionals worldwide.

Dayna’s foundational work has been critical to the biomimicry movement, establishing it as a fresh and innovative practice, as well as a philosophy to meet the world’s sustainability challenges. As an educator, researcher, and design consultant, Dayna has helped more than 100 companies consult the natural world for elegant and sustainable design solutions, as diverse as Nike, Interface, General Mills, Boeing, Google, Natura, Herman-Miller, Kohler, Seventh Generation and Procter & Gamble. Dayna is a natural systems thinker and brings a unique perspective to her work to help others see nature as model, measure, and mentor. She designed and teaches the world’s first MSc in Biomimicry as a Professor of Practice at ASU, co-founded, is director of The Biomimicry Center at ASU. She compiled more than 20 years of experience in the practice of biomimicry into the world’s only textbook for the field: Biomimicry Resource Handbook: A Seed Bank of Knowledge and Best Practices (2014).

Toby Herzlich | Biomimicry for Social Innovation Founder Toby Herzlich is a leadership trainer and ICF-certified coach, master facilitator, and certified Biomimicry Specialist. Toby is committed to the creation of a just, healthy, and regenerative society, and heartfully enthused about the transformative potential of applying nature’s wisdom to humanity’s sustainability aspirations. With more than 25 years of facilitation experience, she is a Senior Trainer with the Rockwood Leadership Institute, co-founder of Cultivating Women’s Leadership, and a faculty in B3.8’s Biomimicry Professional Certification Program. As a consultant, Toby advances climate solutions initiatives at organizations such as the Sierra Club and the AgroEcology Fund. With a commitment to race equity at the center of her work, Toby finds much of her purpose in catalyzing diverse networks of social change innovators, and is growing a co-evolving network of leaders using nature’s intelligence as inspiration and guidance.


Convince your boss by downloading and sharing our PDF that outlines the professional benefits and values biomimicry immersion workshops can add to any organization. Download Convince Your Boss pdf here.

Learn more about immersion workshops here.

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I came into the Discover Nature’s Genius for Social Innovation workshop with a set of big and seemingly intractable problems that I wanted to explore. By the end of the week, I had fresh perspectives on the framing of these challenges as well as powerful tools to explore these topics- and possible solutions- with a newfound sense of possibility. The workshop was extraordinarily accessible and well designed and I left feeling profoundly grateful and invigorated. I highly recommend this training!

— Stosh Cotler, Discover Nature's Genius for Social Innovation Workshop Alumni | Senior Advisor, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, United States
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