2010 Social Ecology Intensive Schedule

January 9th – 16th in New York City
/ limited scholarships available

The Institute for Social Ecology presents an 8-day intensive introduction to the philosophy and politics of Social Ecology. This 8-day intensive will offer students an introduction to the dialectical philosophy and politics of Social Ecology. Using the lens of Social Ecology, students will participate in four topical seminars focused on climate justice; alternatives to capitalism; race; and the history of Social Ecology and radical movements. Students will also participate in a practicum applying the principles of Social Ecology to their own actual (or imagined) activist campaigns.

The philosophy class will be held in the evening to encourage NYC students with day jobs to attend.

What Is the ISE?

For more than thirty years, the Institute for Social ecology has been offering educational programs focused on a reconstructive social and ecological transformation of society. The ISE views the global penetration of systems of domination into daily life, the centralization of power, the homogenization of culture, and the strengthening of hierarchy and social control as impediments to human freedom and the root causes of the current ecological crisis.  It is the ISE’s core belief that that humans have the potential to play a creative role in natural and social evolution, and to foster vibrant, self-governing communities free from hierarchy, social inequity, and ecological degradation.


The Seminar will be held at a gorgeous radical loft space at 16 Beaver Street in the Financial District of Manhattan.

Classes will run roughly everyday from 10AM to 8:30PM, beginning Saturday morning.

Links to readings:

This Seminar is co-hosted by the Watershed Center in NYC

Class Descriptions Dates and Times:

Chaia Heller –  The Philosophy and Politics of Social Ecology
January 9th– 15th 7-8:45PM (all nights but Tuesday)

This class explores key philosophical, political, and strategic issues that surface in the theory and practice of social ecology.  After re-thinking the idea of nature and human nature, the course examines the creative tensions produced when we bring together questions of left libertarian politics, a utopian perspective, and an ecological vision. In addition, the course addresses social-ecological praxis, exploring various approaches to transforming a revolutionary reconstructive vision into a reality.

Movement Building Practicum
January 9th – 16th 1-2:45PM

The first half of this afternoon class will explore a number of contemporary NYC-based social movements and organizations, through conversations with local community organizers.  Students will then work in small groups to develop their own real or imagined organizing projects.  Using specific exercises, students will practice developing a holistic analysis, a reconstructive vision, an organizational framework, outreach materials, and the beginnings of a strategic plan for their projects. Students will present their projects to the group for feedback in the final session.

Daniel Chodorkoff — Social Ecology: From Theory to Practice
January 10th– 12th 10-11:45AM

This class will begin with an overview of the theory of social ecology, and then turn to examination of the role that social ecology has played in a variety of social movements over the past 35 years, ranging from the anti-nuke movement through the movement for climate justice. We will conclude with an exploration of a social ecological approach to community development, using the Lower East Side as a case study.

Brian Tokar –  From Climate Awareness to Climate Justice:  A Social Ecology View
January 9th-12th 3:15-5PM

While policymakers and mainstream environmentalists are busy debating parts per million of carbon dioxide, people around the world are already suffering the impacts of worldwide climate chaos, from droughts and wildfires, to unprecedented flooding events. In response, climate justice activists worldwide are proposing a holistic, human rights-centered approach to the climate crisis. We will address the broad scope of climate justice perspectives, and aim to dissect the most common false solutions to global warming, from tradable emissions allowances (i.e., ‘cap-and-trade’), to nuclear power and industrial biofuels. We will consider how a more forward-looking, community-centered approach might help forestall further climate disruptions, how activists can help transform the current debate.
Topics will include:
•    The perspective of climate justice, and the roots of the emerging climate justice movement.
•    The myth of the carbon market: why ‘cap-and-trade’ won’t solve the climate crisis.
•    Energy alternatives and false promises: why nuclear power, ‘clean coal,’ and industrial biofuels aren’t the answer.
•    Emerging activist responses to the climate crisis, and how to further forward-looking, community-centered approaches.

NOTE: there is a climate related action on the 12th and a possible panel discussion– so schedules may flex that day)

Peter Staudenmaier –  Alternatives to Capitalism
January 13th– 16th 10-11:45AM

As discontent with capitalism grows around the globe, those of us involved in struggles for a better world face challenging questions about just what form of society we’re working toward. Questions of political economy, in particular, present a series of dilemmas for anti-capitalist activists. This intensive course aims to work through several of these core questions collectively and critically. Building on social ecology’s analysis of capitalism as an irrational social system, we will examine several alternative economic visions put forward by a range of radical thinkers on the libertarian left. We will take a utopian yet skeptical approach to these proposed frameworks, evaluate their merits and flaws, consider their practical implications, and compare them with social ecology’s communalist perspective.

Matt Hern — Social Ecology and Cities
January 13th
-15th 3:15 – 5PM

Cities are our best hope for an ecological future: the only way for seven billion people to live sustainably is to live compactly. We have to learn how to share resources, energy, space and land, and turn cities into something far more than blandly urbanized investment vehicles. How can we remake cities as alive, directly democratic, governed from below and sustainable? How can social ecology and libertarian municipalism contribute to that project?

Sat 9 Sun 10 Mon 11 Tues 12 Weds 13 Thurs 14 Fri 15 Sat 16
10:00-11:45 Registration Dan Dan Dan Peter Peter Peter Peter
1:00-2:45 Beatrice Beatrice Beatrice Beatrice Beatrice Beatrice Beatrice Beatrice
3:15-5:00 Brian Brian Brian Brian Matt Matt Matt Closing
7:00-8:45 Chaia Chaia Chaia Free Chaia Chaia Chaia

$300 covers the space rental, materials, and meals (no one is getting paid) so we do encourage students to attempt to get this money on your own. We will be offering a few scholarships. Please ask.