Experts meet to discuss the microbiome at Bard’s public Hannah Arendt Center symposium

When functioning properly, the human microbiome – trillions of microorganisms on our skin and in our gut that work with our immune system to serve as a filter between ourselves and our environment – acts as a vital organ protecting human health. When the overuse of antibiotics, declining air, water and soil quality and modern industrial farming practices negatively impact the human microbiome, chronic inflammatory diseases such as asthma, obesity, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and such autoimmune diseases as lupus, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are often the result.

Emerging science has established the importance of the human microbiome to health, and some are now warning that its potential destruction is leading to a large-scale health crisis. Research is already showing that missing microbes from Caesarean births, massive overuse of antibiotics in food and medicine, hormones produced by stress and processed foods and chemicals in our environment are impacting our internal ecosystems in ways we are just beginning to understand. We are altering the human microbiome in ways that have potentially radical consequences for our world. 

On Thursday and Friday, September 19 and 20, the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College will hold a symposium of leading scientists, medical practitioners, farming experts and philosophers to explore further what the decline of the human microbiome could mean to global health and how we should respond. The two-day symposium, “Reimagining Human Health: The Microbiome, Farming and Medicine,” takes place at Blithewood, the research and conference facility of the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. Participants will discuss soil, water, livestock, antibiotics, farming and the microbiome, including such topics as human health and the microbiome, antibiotics throughout the food system, biofarming and antibiotic stewardship in the treatment of livestock.


Symposium participants include: Rodney Dietert, professor emeritus, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University, author, The Human Superorganism: How the Microbiome Is Revolutionizing the Pursuit of a Healthy Life; Martha Carlin, CEO and cofounder of The BioCollective; Don Huber, professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University and a leading critic of glyphosate pesticides like Roundup; Dr. Laura H. Kahn, physician and research scholar with the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University; Dr. Louis J. Cohen, assistant professor and practicing gastroenterologist, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and Larry Weiss, CEO and founder of Persona Biome, a San Francisco skin microbiome company, and founding chief medical officer, AOBiome.

The symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required at You can also register to access a live webcast of the conference that will be streamed for those who cannot attend. For more information or answers to questions about the conference, contact

Reimagining Human Health: The Microbiome, Farming and Medicine, Thursday-Friday, Sept. 19-20, Free/preregister, Blithewood, Levy Economics Institute, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson,,