Fall 2021 Institute for Social Ecology Newsletter

Dear Friends of the ISE,

The overlapping social and environmental crises we face were more obvious than ever this summer: climate-change fueled heat waves, wildfires, and flooding, as COVID surges alongside conspiracist disinformation, reconfigured far-right movements, and deepening inequality.

Yet at the same time we’ve also seen social movements organizing across the globe working to create a very different world. The current moment calls for clear analysis and vision, which the ISE has been offering for over 45 years. We invite you to join our global community of activist-learners and check out our upcoming programs, including our fall social ecology seminar, new courses on urban studies and the Marxist tradition, and our fall racial and environmental justice lecture series. Onward!

Summer Events

Our June Online Intensive and summer reading groups were both amazing again this year, with 100+ incredible participants joining us from across the globe. If you missed it, you can watch the Intensive YouTube playlist or write us for help setting up your own local study group.

In August, 25 people from around the country gathered in Jackson, Mississippi, for the first Symbiosis Summer. Symbiosis, a North American federation of radical democracy and solidarity economy projects supported by the Institute for Social Ecology, sent volunteers to work on projects from local host organization Cooperation Jackson. This summer participants repainted the Center for Community Production, built water catchment platforms for the Freedom Farms, installed a pallet fence at the Kuwasi Balagoon Center, rehabbed homes for the Fannie Lou Hamer Community Land Trust, and cleared neighborhood dump sites. Symbiosis Summer was a smashing success, so watch for more to come!

Fall Programs

The fall session of our popular Ecology Democracy Utopia seminar starts September 14, meeting weekly on Tuesdays from 1-2:30 pm EST through Nov. 2. This eight-unit course provides a comprehensive overview of Social Ecology that covers nature philosophy, hierarchy, capitalism, the state, food and technology, political strategy, movement organizing, and more.

We will also be offering two brand new courses in late fall, one on Urban Studies/Right to the City taught by Federico Venturini, and another on Marxism and Direct Democracy with Mason Herson-Hord. All six of our online courses are also available in a self-directed format that can be started at any time. This includes The Philosophy & Politics of Social Ecology, Food & Climate Justice, Frankfurt School Critical Theory, Rethinking Social Transformation, and Understanding Antisemitism. Students can also earn college credit via our partnership with Castleton University; contact us for more info.

We are thrilled to announce that activist, educator, and Cooperation Jackson co-founder Kali Akuno has joined the ISE as our Racial & Environmental Justice coordinator. This September he’ll be hosting a new lecture series on racial and environmental justice that will feature Max Ajl, Monica Atkins, Bineshi Albert, Nerdeen Kiswani, and more – stay tuned!

This series will dovetail nicely with the fall release of Issue 2 of Harbinger: A Journal of Social Ecology, which explores Social Ecological Perspectives on Race & Racism. Keep your eyes peeled, and be sure to check out the first issue if you haven’t done so yet. This fall we’ll also be hosting a panel discussion on antisemitism and left movements that will address myths and tropes about Jewish power found even on the left.

Recent News/ISE Blog

2021 marks the centennial of the birth of Murray Bookchin, the founding theorist of social ecology and co-founder of the Institute for Social Ecology, and we’re working on several events to commemorate his life and legacy. Exhibitions are being presented by the Vermont Folklife Center, Bronx Historical Society, and Vermont State Library system. A conference is also being planned for 2022 – dates and details coming soon!

ISE faculty member Brian Tokar has written an in-depth analysis of the recent IPCC climate report that has been featured prominently on Counterpunch, Climate and Capitalism, Monthly Review Online, ZNet and elsewhere.  He will be presenting on Climate Justice and Community Renewal at the upcoming World Forum on Climate Justice

ISE board member Blair Taylor discussed his research on ecofascism and right-wing environmentalism in an interview with Vox and on the anti-fascist podcast 12 Rules for What, which also recently featured ISE faculty member Peter Staudenmaier on The History of Nazi Ecologism.

Longtime left activist and public intellectual Stanley Aronowitz passed away this August at the age of 88. A frequent interlocutor with social ecology and Murray Bookchin, this reflection piece explores their many biographical, political, and theoretical similarities as well as differences.

ISE co-Founder Dan Chodorkoff’s second novel, Sugaring Down, will be published in November by Fomite Press. Taking place on a Vermont commune in the 60’s, the book “burrows below the surface of the sixties counter culture and the New Left to explore the contradictions and passions that lead to the implosion of the protagonists’ dreams and their turns down two very different paths.” Pre-order your copy here.

To enroll for any of our programs, complete the form on the relevant course page or contact us at social-ecology@mail.mayfirst.org. If you appreciate the Institute’s work, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation here.

For a free and ecological society,

Institute for Social Ecology

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