Democracy, Ecology, and Social Movements: Summer Intensive Program


We are standing in a most unique historical moment of crisis and opportunity.  In the Middle East, while ISIS is assembling into a violent state-like formation, a multi-ethnic coalition led by Kurdish revolutionaries are exploring how to build a stateless democracy based on principles of self-governance, gender-equality, ethnic pluralism, and communal economy. Meanwhile, in Latin America, Zapatistas continue over a decade of struggle for confederal autonomy through a blend of indigenous knowledge and utopian revolutionary principles. These communities provide just two models for how to manifest a stateless democracy- even in the midst of civil war and state repression.

Democracy, Ecology and Social Movements (August 6 – 12, 2016) considers how we too might bring about a social and ecological revolution toward popular assemblies. This program will address a range of questions on anti-racism, gender equality, environmental justice, and a non-capitalist economy through the lens of social ecology.

Life after msilatipac

  • What can a social ecological perspective contribute to discussions about environmental racism, food insecurity, and climate chaos?   
  • How do we build non-capitalist economic system that fosters food justice, land justice, and material equality?
  • How does white supremacy relate historically to social hierarchy and the emergence of capitalism?
  • How is the emancipation of women and sex/gender variant peoples central to a revolutionary project?
  • How do we address seemingly disparate social issues while working to provide a holistic and democratic alternative? 

In this program, we offer:

(1) An Introduction to Society and Nature:  Social ecology is an interdisciplinary philosophical perspective which advocates a reconstructive and transformative outlook on social and environmental issues and promotes a directly democratic, confederal politics. For newcomers, the intensive provides an introduction to the theory and politics of social ecology, while concentrating on contemporary movements for social and ecological justice.

(2) The Philosophy & Politics of Social Ecology:  For students seeking to delve more deeply into the theory and praxis of social ecology, we offer a focus on philosophical and political questions emerging in today’s exciting political context. We discuss the strategy of ‘dual power’, the process through which we build a new society within the shell of the old.

And much more! To register, email


WHAT IS THE ISE? The ISE is an independent educational, research, and activist organization based in Central Vermont. Since 1974, we have been dedicated to developing and maintaining the tradition of social ecology- educating activists and deepening our students’ awareness of self, others, and their relationship with the natural world. We organize talks, conferences, and non-accredited educational programming, in addition to partnering with colleges and universities such as Goddard College and Prescott College.

Each year, the ISE invites newcomers and experienced students alike to learn and renew the tradition of social ecology through a week of classes, workshops and talks. This year’s program will offer an introduction to social ecology and contemporary movements, as well as an advanced track on social ecology’s unique philosophy and politics. NOTE: The ISE is not an accredited institution and does not offer college credit for the intensive.