Annual Social Ecology Intensives

Each year, we offer a Social Ecology Intensive that brings together ISE faculty, local activists and scholars, as well as participants from around the world for a week of exploring social-ecological transformation in theory and practice. Combining classes, workshops, guest lectures, and field trips, participants learn the fundamentals of Social Ecology and apply them to a variety of contemporary struggles and issues.  It is always an inspiring experience of radical education,  political strategizing, and utopian envisioning.

The site and program changes each time, with past Intensives in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver B.C., and Denton, Texas. Our participants come from many backgrounds – from university students to activists to full-time workers, and have come from India, Brazil, New Zealand, Nigeria, Mexico, Ecuador, Tanzania, the Philippines, Turkey, Kurdistan, and from across Europe and North America. We are committed to making our programs financially, physically, and culturally accessible. We typically offer a sliding scale fee, with limited scholarships available for foreign participants, POC, and individuals from other historically marginalized groups.

Our 2021 Intensive will take place June 11-16. Due to COVID 19 we’ll be hosting the event virtually via Zoom. Please fill out the form on the event page!

For full details on our upcoming 2020 Summer Intensive, please click here.

Program Philosophy

ISE intensives are more than the sum of their parts. We emphasize movement from theory to praxis, collaborating with participants to address the social issues which impact their work, studies, and everyday lives. Within this framework, we offer a “core” set of themes, including climate justice, radical democracy, and alternatives to capitalism.In the past, we have hosted speakers from organizations such as Organization for a Free Society, Picture the Homeless, Green Action for Health and Environmental Justice, Demand Utopia, Coalition of Progressive Electors, West Harlem Environmental Action (WEACT), Perennial SolutionsUrban Permaculture Institute, Movement Generation, Institute for Research and Education, Native American Women’s Dialogue on Infant Mortality, and the Tar Sands Blockade. ISE Intensives do not currently offer academic credit.

Student Testimonials

“Radical, coherent and powerful body of ideas taught by talented and dedicated teachers that can transform your perspective of politics, evolution, nature, revolution, environmentalism, climate change, capitalism, power and hierarchy.” -Liana Sweeney

“I was able to attend two of these in NYC and would love to go again!” – Jose Whelan


2019 Vancouver B.C. – Rethinking Social Transformation: Reclaiming the City & Building Popular Power

2018 Poulsbo, WA.


2017 San Francisco, CA – Linking Protest and Social Transformation:
Social Ecology and the Future of Our Movements


2016 Millerton, NY – Democracy, Ecology, and Social Movements


2015 Millerton, NY – Beyond Strategy: Building Visions for a Free Society

2014 Denton, Texas

In early January 2014 participants gathered in Denton, Texas for the first ever week-long intensive in the South. This intensive was focused primarily on Climate Justice in response to a recent flurry of fossil fuel resistance organizing that had surged across the Lone Star State. Participating organizations included Frack Free Denton working to ban and hydraulic fracturing and Tar Sands Blockade working to stop tar sands pipelines. The intensive included courses on Climate Justice, Direct Democracy, Moral Economy, and Solidarity Organizing. Later that year, many of the participating organizers played key roles in successfully banning fracking in Denton.


2012 New York City – Building Directly Democratic Social Movements

Drawing immense inspiration from the Occupy Movement, the ISE hosted two seminars on Directly Democratic Social Change in partnership with the Brecht Forum.  These Intensives took place in New York City, from January 7 – 15 and March 11- 15.   Instructors focused on providing tools to deepen student’s analysis, historical knowledge, and strategic visions for fundamental social transformation. Courses included topics such as Climate Justice, Direct Democracy & Dual Power, Rethinking the Left, and Liberating Land for Community Control.  Central to our discussions were questions of strategic movement building, solidarity & accountability, and the unique potentialities and challenges presented to the Occupy Movement.

2011 Hudson Valley Intensive

The 2011 ISE Intensive was held from August 9 -17th in the Hudson River Valley region. Students enjoyed marvelous summer sunshine and ate delicious farm fresh foods in between classes on Alternatives to Capitalism and the Politics & Philosophy of Social Ecology. Several special presentations highlighted the 2011 seminar, spanning topics such as the history of revolutionary art in Mexico, left-libertarian political movements in Venezuela, and grassroots resistance organizing against hydraulic fracturing in North Dakota.

 2010 Winter Intensive: New York City

In January 2010 the Institute for Social Ecology held an 8-day intensive introduction to the philosophy and politics of Social Ecology in New York City. This 8-day intensive offered students an introduction to the dialectical philosophy and politics of Social Ecology. Using the lens of Social Ecology, students participated in four topical seminars focused on climate justice; alternatives to capitalism; race; and the history of Social Ecology and radical movements. Students also participated in a practicum applying the principles of Social Ecology to their own actual (or imagined) activist campaigns.