Harbinger: A Journal of Social Ecology

Harbinger: A Journal of Social Ecology publishes analysis and commentary on a variety of political and theoretical questions relevant to social ecology. Harbinger was relaunched as an online journal in December, 2019.

The first volume of Harbinger was published in print form during the 1980s. In 2001 and 2002, the ISE temporarily revived Harbinger as a web-based journal, while also participating in the initial years of the journal Society and Nature.  Two issues of Harbinger are available electronically through the article archive on this site. Harbinger Vol. 2.1 (2001) is available by article here. Harbinger Vol. 3.1 (Spring 2003) is available by article or by downloading the full issue as a PDF.


Harbinger, A Journal of Social Ecology, publishes analysis relevant to the growing social ecology movement and news of the activities of the Institute for Social Ecology. It is our intention to explore the theory and practice needed to help to create an ecological society, and to cultivate a generous intellectual outlook that can inform the principle of hope. Just as the outlook proposed by social ecology is concerned with both what is and what could be, so too is Harbinger and we will explore the tensions between the two. The central questions we address in the pages of Harbinger regard the process with which we must engage to create an ecological society, a society free of hierarchy and domination in all of its forms.

A utopian project, the cynics will snicker, and to them we proudly answer yes, it is a utopian project – but not utopia in the sense of an unachievable cloud-cuckoo land, rather what we explore are utopian ideas rooted in real existing potentialities. In the words of social ecologist Murray Bookchin we seek to “Be realistic and do the impossible, because if we don’t do the impossible, we face the unthinkable.” Harbinger will examine ideas that can allow us to transcend the given, to expand our intellectual frameworks, to give voice to our highest aspirations and our dreams for a decentralized, directly democratic, mutualistic and ecological society.

A harbinger is a messenger, or a sign indicating that a major event or change is coming. It was the name given to the journal published by Emerson, the Alcotts, Thoreau and other New England transcendentalists associated with Brook Farm in the 19th century. The name was revived in the early 1980’s by the ISE for our literary and philosophical journal. It’s current incarnation Harbinger will continue the tradition of critically examining theory and practice, will attempt to bring you stimulating work by talented authors, and, in addition, will update you on the important work of the ISE. Our intention is to publish twice a year and we invite your comments and contributions. While Harbinger will entertain many points of view, our primary focus will be on a clarification and expansion of those ideas and practices that contribute to social ecology. We encourage passionate discourse tempered by rationality and a radical intent – nothing less than the transformation of our destructive, anti-ecological society.