Nova Annual Conference 2022


People ⋅ Places ⋅ Planet

December 1 – 2, 2022

The ultimate aim of planetary health is flourishing along every level of the person, place, and planet continuum. In an era of so many interconnected challenges, there could not be a more important time for ambitious, integrative approaches.

Our agenda continues to underscore the imperative for creative ecological solutions for the challenges we face in all systems and all scales with advancing global urbanization in the digital age–for personal, environmental, economic, social and spiritual health alike. We aim to bring together diverse perspectives from across many dimensions of the arts and the sciences, as we explore novel solutions and new normative values. ​

Submit an Abstract

We welcome abstracts on any topic pertaining to improving health of people, places, and/or planet.

This reflects our focus on understanding and improving the complex relationships between human health and planetary health. We seek to emphasize the socio-eco-biological interactions in our living environment (including urbanization, food systems, education, social inequity, climate change, biodiversity loss, and microbial ecology) that impact physical, mental and spiritual well-being, together with the wider community and societal factors that govern these. We continue to have a long-range vision which includes trans-generational and ‘life-course’ approaches to disease prevention and environmental restoration.  

We seek to bring together a tremendous network of like-minded people from diverse fields whose interests span from planetary/population/environmental health to microbial ecology/systems biology and the deep biological mechanisms—all aiming to work in a more integrated systems framework as we seek to improve personal, environmental, economic and societal health alike. As always, our emphasis is on meaningful collaborations and productive friendships as much as on the data and opportunities we generate.

Topics Include:

  • The Health of Environments on all scales: including natural and built environments, any and all dimensions of the ‘total exposome’ and interventions to improve these, including approaches to ‘rewilding’.
  • Lifestyle health and Personal Ecology: including nutrition, activity, sleep, mindfulness, meditation, and other behaviors (and/or interventions) that influence personal ecology and wellness
  • The Health of Societies and Systems: including the wider social, cultural and economic determinants of health, epidemiology, anthropology, and public health
  • Community and local initiatives: grassroots efforts for change, case studies, stories that may inform and inspire others.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic: including the broadranging consequences of the pandemic on any system and on any scale. Preliminary data and proposals are welcome.
  • Microbial Ecology: Including microbiome ecosystems in humans, animals, diverse environmental systems, impact of human activity, antibiotics, and possible restorative interventions.
  • Developmental Origins: including work that specifically focus on developmental approaches, early interventions, life course trajectories and trans-generational perspectives 
  • Value Systems and Ideologies: including pathways, programs, philosophies, enablers, perspectives, mindsets and/or actions that promote personal, community, and/or planetary health
  • Tools and Platforms: including technology platforms, novel tools, statistics or models to facilitate research and/or health initiatives in any sector. 
  • Creative work: if you would like to share or display something you have created to inspire the group, please do!
Abstracts – closing date: October 22, 2022

Accepted oral presentations will all be virtual, in the form of a 3–4 minute virtual (video) presentation.

We welcome original research, community initiatives, or proposals (that do not have to be completed) on any topic seeking to improve life on our planet, including health of individuals, communities, places, or wider agendas—especially pertaining to:

Session themes:

  • Integrated whole-systems approaches at all scales: for health, healing, and flourishing
  • Connecting Communities: co-creating, integrating, and inspiring change through relationship
  • Nature, Places, and Spaces: creating safe, sustainable, and nourishing environments for flourishing
  • Ecological relationships for whole person health: Awareness, attitudes, and actions for wellness

Submissions: Please provide a written summary (300 words) of work you wish to share as a 3–4 minute virtual (video) presentation.

Send to:

Preliminary program

We are planning four main sessions over two days.

Check back soon for more details.

Session Themes

We aim to cover a broad number of topics in an integrated way, to underscore the interdependence of efforts to promote flourishing at all scales, from people, to places, to our planetary systems. The broad session themes include the following (subject to change):

  • Integrated whole-systems approaches at all scales: for health, healing, and flourishing
  • Connecting Communities: co-creating, integrating, and inspiring change through relationship
  • Nature, Places, and Spaces: creating safe, sustainable, and nourishing spaces for flourishing
  • Ecological relationships for whole person health: awareness, attitudes, and actions for wellness

Cross-cutting themes

fairness ⋅ values ⋅ development and life-course ⋅ next generation ⋅ art and creativity ⋅ education ⋅ narratives ⋅ biodiversity ⋅ spirituality ⋅ belonging ⋅ social determinants of health 

Nova Art Awards

In 2021, we launched the Nova Institute Art Award to celebrate our relationship with the Nova Institute for Health of People, Places, and Planet. We invite any work that seeks to provoke or inspire change for the health of people, places, and planet!

Creativity of all kinds is vital for our future. Artists challenge the status quo, provide inspiration, and help create new narratives. Through our art we hold a mirror to societies that we may better see ourselves, celebrate what is beautiful, and understand what is broken. Bringing the conversation directly to the heart helps us all feel connected to something bigger with greater kindness, love, and compassion. Creativity provides new perspectives and possibilities for change, a stronger sense of community, belonging, and shared purpose towards overcoming challenges at every scale. This is something that everyone can be part of … because we can all find joy in creating!

Inviting people of all ages and perspectives to share

Sharing creativity is also a special opportunity to invite children into important conversations about change and give voice to their hopes and imaginings for the future. This helps remind us all what is important, encourage authenticity, and break down barriers. It creates a place of respect and meaning where we can find fulfilling self-expression as well as shared solutions and mutual benefits with the health of all people, places, and planet in mind. 

Submissions will be shared at the conference.

Submit artwork for the following categories:
  • Open Art: for ages 13 years and over
  • Young Artists: for ages 12 years and under
  • Photography: all ages
Artwork can be submitted in any image JPG, PNG or PDF file formats under 10MB in size.

Submit your work >>

Submissions close November 2, 2022.

Other Information

Travel awards

There will be no in-person sessions in 2022, however, we will honor travel 2020 awards (deferred because of the pandemic) for future in-person meetings. We hope to have an in-person meeting in 2023!

We are proud to announce successful travel awards for early career researchers:

  • Camilla Allen (UK)
  • Chris Buse (Canada)
  • Phanie Charest (Canada)
  • Zoe Davis (Canada)
  • Bahrul Fikri (Indonesia)
  • Yogi Hendlin (Netherlands)
  • Vivien How (Malaysia)
  • Aaron Jenkins (Australia)
  • Ingrid Jarvis (Canada)
  • Danica-Lea Larcombe (Australia)
  • Kyo Lee (USA)
  • Danielle MacCarthy (Northern Ireland)
  • Anna Ojo (South Africa)
  • Sagun Paudel (Nepal)
  • Manila Poudel (Nepal)
  • Kristina Rueter (Australia)
  • Amandine Selle (France)
  • Hildy Steinacker (UK)
  • Alex Wacoo (Uganda)

We Favor Certified B Corporations

About B Corps: Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. These businesses meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.

We are pleased to offer FREE registration for our meeting.

We are implementing a new registration process — stay tuned for more details!

Healing is facilitated through safety, persistence, and trust.

  • Persistence: “People did not simply progress through this sequence and experience healing. The healing journey was a recursive, back and forth process. They found helpers, used the skills/resources that those helpers provided, found other helpers that provided more resources and used those skills and resources. As this process continued, people experienced a gradual amelioration of their suffering. Although many despaired at times, all demonstrated the quality of persistence—they refused to give up.”
  • Safety & Trust: “To connect to helpers, it was essential for people to feel safe in those relationships and able to trust that the person would be a helper and not a barrier to healing. Persons whose wounds included a violation of trust were especially careful about testing the safety of new relationships.”

Resources support us as we heal. They include reframing, responsibility, and positivity. “Making connections enabled participants to acquire and refine resources and skills that were essential in their healing journey. People also brought their own personal strengths to the journey.”

  • Reframing: “A particularly important skill was the ability to reframe—that is to look at suffering through a different lens.” This does NOT mean minimizing trauma or pain, but rather it often means the opposite: understanding what happened was wrong, unfair, or uncontrollable and that we are not to blame for it.
  • Responsibility: While we don’t have control over what happened to us, we are the only ones who can help ourselves heal. “A third essential resource that people acquired or refined was the ability to take an appropriate amount of responsibility for their healing journeys. They participated actively in the process of healing. Once again, some participants already had developed this skill, and some acquired or refined it from their helpers.”
  • Positivity: “Another resource that people acquired or refined during their healing journey was choose to be positive—that is to have some optimism about their situation.” People have varying predispositions to positivity. In the study, positivity was important in helping people heal. This doesn’t mean a toxic positivity, but rather simply finding some good in life and feeling hopeful about our situations.

“Connection to others was an essential part of all the healing journeys.” Humans are social creatures, and even the most introverted of us need close relationships. Friends and family add meaning and value to life and help support us, in good times and bad. 

When we experience relational trauma, relationships can feel scary, but reestablishing safety and trust in relationships is where the healing happens. (To be clear, we do not mean reestablishing safety and trust with abusers, but rather finding other healing relationships.) 

“When safety and trust had been established, people were able to connect with helpers. The nature of the behaviours of helpers that fostered healing ranged from small acts of kindness to unconditional love.”

  • “Moving from being wounded, through suffering to healing, is possible. It is facilitated by developing safe, trusting relationships and by positive reframing that moves through the weight of responsibility to the ability to respond.”
  • “Relationships with health professionals were among these but were not necessarily any more important to the healing journey than other kinds of helpers, which included family members, friends, spirituality and their God, pets, support groups, administrators, case workers and supervisors.”

Healing probably means different things to different people, but one definition that emerged from the study is: “The re-establishment of a sense of integrity and wholeness.” 

Healing was an emergent property that resulted from each individuals’ complex healing journey, a result of bridged connections between resources and relationships. “…they gradually found relief from suffering and began to exhibit emergent characteristics: a sense of hope, self-acceptance, and a desire to help others—the immediate precursors to healing.”

 In varying degrees, “they were able to transcend their suffering and in some sense to flourish.” 

  • Helping Others: We find meaning in helping others. “Understanding that suffering gives the strength and experience to help others in similar situations.”
  • Hope: We begin to have hope that we will not always feel this bad. A Crohn’s patient said, “I think gradually I realized that I was going to feel better. I did have days when I actually didn’t vomit, when I did feel better. And I think gradually I came to believe that maybe I could have a normal life again.”
  • Self-Acceptance: We see our inherent value and understand that we are not to blame for our suffering. A participant living with HIV said, “I’m really proud of myself. I think that now I still want to live. I don’t want to die, and I really love myself a lot. I have a lot of comfort in myself.”

Suffering is the ongoing pain from wounding. 

There is debate about whether or not one actually needs to experience suffering on the path to healing.

Wounding happens when we experience physical or emotional harm. It can stem from chronic illness or by physical or psychological trauma for which we do not have the tools to cope, or a combination of those factors. 

“The degree and quality of suffering experienced by each individual is framed by contextual factors that include personal characteristics, timing of their initial or ongoing wounding in the developmental life cycle and prior and current relationships.”

Characteristics: How predisposed someone may be to wounding/how many tools and resources someone may have to deal with trauma/illness.

Lifestages: Developmental timing plays an important role in the impact of trauma — young children often do not have the same resources as older adults.

Relationships: Relationships can provide solace and support for those suffering, while lack of healthy relationships can prolong suffering.