The Hidden World of Lichens With Felicity Roberts - Atlas Obscura Experiences
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The Hidden World of Lichens With Felicity Roberts

$75 per person Online Experience
4 sessions
See Dates
$75 per person
$75 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

In this four-part lecture series, explore the mysterious world of lichens—from their physiology and ecology to their prominence in art, food, medicine, and spirituality.

Course Description

The slow-growing, symbiotic life forms we identify as lichens have been called many things, from tiny ecosystems to “fungi that have learned to farm.” Unobtrusive and mysterious, lichens' history, biology, and current relevance are often overlooked—though once you begin to notice these strange beings, you’ll wonder how you ever looked anywhere else. We’ll begin by studying their boundary-defying biology, touching on the complex and counterintuitive makeup of these ancient extremophiles. We’ll then trace the role of lichens in folklore, food, booze, and even deodorant, before touching on how they’ve inspired spiritual and philosophical thought—hearing from expert biologists, environmental artists, and activists along the way. By the end of this course, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the fascinating life and ecology of lichens, as well as an appreciation for the ways in which they’re inextricably and broadly connected to human culture.

Syllabus at a Glance

There are four total sessions included in this purchase, each lasting for 1.5 hours on four consecutive Wednesdays beginning June 23.

Session 1 (Wednesday, June 23, 5:30–7:00 PM ET): Meet the Lichens: Lichen biology and evolution (with guest expert Dr. Yolanda Wiersma)

Session 2 (Wednesday, June 30, 5:30–7:00 PM ET): Lichens in Art: Folklore, crafts, and creation (with guest experts Marlene Creates and Emily Jan)

Session 3 (Wednesday, July 7, 5:30–7:00 PM ET): Lichens Everywhere: Food, booze, personal care, and medicine

Session 4 (Wednesday, July 14, 5:30–7:00 PM ET): The Future of Lichens: Deep ecology, radical spirituality, and mutual aid (with guest experts Dr. Ian Goudie and Jody Williams)

Between Sessions

Outside of class, students will be provided with optional readings and resources to check out on their own.  

Pricing Options

We currently offer tiered ticket pricing in an effort to increase accessibility for all students, regardless of economic situation. Our lecture series are available at three ticket prices, with a limited number of no-pay spots available for students who could not otherwise participate. This model is intended to support a wider range of students as well as our instructors. To learn more about our tiered sliding scale pricing model, please visit our FAQ page.

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

Our online courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. Courses can take one of two forms: Seminars are intimate, interactive classes—capped at nine to 25 students—exploring topics and crafts through discussion, workshops, assignments, and in-class activities. We also offer lecture series that can be attended live, or viewed via a recording that will be shared within 72 hours after each session airs. Class recordings for lecture series will be available with a temporary password for a limited time following the final session of the course.

To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit

For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.

Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to the class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access your course via Zoom on each scheduled date and time.

About Your Instructor
Felicity Roberts
Felicity Roberts

Felicity Roberts is an herbalist, lichen specialist, food and cocktail writer, conservationist, textile artist, and passionate home cook. She finds joy in using low-tech, scientifically sound, and sustainable methods to grow, gather, and prepare food; make medicines; and create art. Her enthusiasm for the fungal world and her multidisciplinary approach to learning are matched by an eclectic knowledge base acquired from a decade spent hitchhiking, farming, cooking, and studying herbs and fungi all over North America—with notable stops in British Columbia, Texas, and Maine. She has been featured on NPR, contributes time to the IUCN's Fungal Red List project, and is an Atlas Obscura trip guide.

What Else You Should Know

This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording after each session airs. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session airs, we will email all enrolled students a recording of the session, which they can watch using a temporary password for up to ten weeks after the course concludes.

In most cases, instructors will use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Classroom, instructors will be using this platform to post resources, discussion questions, and assignments, when applicable.

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses, as well as transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or access needs.

Dates and Availability

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