The Philosophy and Politics of Social Ecology


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Instructor Chaia Heller

Begins January 18, running for eight weeks on Thursdays at 7pm Eastern time. Also available as a self-directed flex course, which can be started at any time (register here).

This class offers a deep dive into the philosophy and politics of social ecology designed for both newcomers to the theory and for those well versed in Bookchin’s work. Together, we’ll address epistemological questions that offer a rethinking of nature and human nature that transcends racist, patriarchal, and colonial outlooks that, in turn, open the way to envision a free, democratic, and ecological society. We’ll also take on a central and fraught question of social and ecological ethics. Using anti-racist and feminist perspectives, we’ll consider how to ground an ethics in a dialectical and ‘situated’ approach to both making and evaluating knowledge claims.  During the second half of the course, we’ll apply social ecology’s epistemological and ethical frameworks to creating a utopian and democratic political praxis.  We’ll address Bookchin’s communalist project, exploring crucial questions including ‘what is dual power?’ and ‘how do we bring revolutionary perspectives to our work in social and ecological movements?’

Class format

Following a short lecture/presentation, we’ll engage in large group discussion. Depending on group size, we’ll then move into break-outs to explore key themes that surfaced within course reading or lecture. The group will then reconvene to participate in large group discussion to further examine theoretical threads and themes that emerged within break-outs.

The video lectures and texts are hosted on our site and can be accessed anytime; the readings are downloadable. Participants are expected to watch the video lectures and complete the readings in advance of each seminar. The weekly video lectures range from 1-1.5 hours long, the weekly video seminar lasts 1.5 hours, and the 25-50 pages of weekly readings should take an estimated 1-3 hours.

There are no written assignments for non-credit seeking students, while those who wish to earn credit through our partnership with Vermont State University must complete additional work and fee requirements (contact social-ecology at for details). The course cost is $100, payment plans and need-based scholarships available. The self-directed version of the course is $50 and can be started at any time.