Alternatives To Capitalism

New Directions in Social Ecology: From Climate Action to Housing Justice

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New Directions in Social Ecology: From Climate Action to Housing Justice


An Intensive Seminar for All Levels

Each year, the Institute for Social Ecology hosts intensive seminars for students, activists, and community leaders to come together to explore sets of dynamic and urgent social and ecological issues. This year, the Institute for Social Ecology is thrilled to offer, for the first time, a seminar right in the heart of San Francisco.

We will be partnering with the California Institute for Integral Studies based in the SOMA district and on major transit lines. Classes will include the politics and philosophy of Social Ecology, international social movements for direct democracy, alternatives to capitalism, climate justice with a focus and emphasis on urban housing and land struggles. We have designed this intensive to be a bit longer than previous programs so as to secure time for local field trips that will allow us to get to know the community and history in which we are studying.

APPLY HERE! for the San Francisco Intensive

What is Social Ecology?

Social Ecology is an interdisciplinary perspective that  weaves together aspects of ecology, philosophy,  anthropology, and political theory. As a body of ideas, social ecology favors a moral economy over a market  economy, while striving to foster human and biological   diversity in a directly democratic world.

The Institute for Social Ecology (ISE) was founded in 1974 as an educational institution dedicated to the exploration of social ecology and its relationship to fields  including philosophy, history, economics, the natural sciences, post-colonialism, and feminism. Historically, the ISE has been a pioneer in community-based approaches to alternative technologies, directly democratic organizing, and ecological urban design. ISE faculty, students, and alumna have played key roles in movements to challenge nuclear power, environmental racism, agricultural biotechnology, climate crisis, and global injustice.

What is an ISE Intensive?

The ISE organizes educational ‘intensive seminars’ that deepen students’ understanding of  human/nature relationships, directly democratic movements, climate change, and the historical unfolding of Left politics. At ISE intensives, students establish links between their current political work on the ground to the ‘grounded theory’ of social ecology.  In that spirit, the ISE has organized intensive seminars to among core Occupy NYC organizers while also fostering strategic ongoing movement-building in the New York area.

APPLY HERE! for the San Francisco Intensive

check out the event on Facebook!


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

“I am enormously happy that the Institute for Social Ecology is coming to SF!!! 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, past Intensive student


Dates: June 12th – 22nd, 2013

LocationCalifornia Institute for Integral Studies, 1453 Mission Street, San Francisco CA

Scholarships: Available, please inquire.

Tuition: $250 – $400 sliding scale or $50 per class. To secure your spot in the seminar, a deposit (30% of your fee) is required. To make your deposit, click on the donate button (up and to the right of this text) and describe your donation as “SF Intensive.”

Readings: coming soon!


Intensive Seminar Instructors

Dan Chodorkoff: What is Social Ecology/the Utopian Tradition

Dan Chodorkoff is a cultural anthropologist and co-founder of the Institute for Social Ecology. He recently published his first novel,Loisaida, a reflection on the rich history of people’s struggles in New York’s Lower East Side.

Chaia Heller: Direct Democracy and Dual Power / The Alter Left (History of the Left)

Chaia Heller is a cultural anthropologist and a professor of gender studies at Mt. Holyoke College. She is the author of Ecology of Everyday Life: Rethinking the Desire for Nature, and just released her second book, Food Farms and Solidarity: French Farmers Challenge Industrial Agriculture and Genetically Modified Crops.

Peter StaudenmaierWhat is Capitalism?/A Moral Economy:  Around the world, people dissatisfied with global capitalism face challenging questions about what kind of society could replace the present one: How can we build amoral economy in the wreckage of a market economy? This course will explore how capitalism works and how a fundamentally different economic system can be both possible and practical.

Peter Staudenmaier is a historian, and a professor of modern German history at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. He co-wrote the book Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience with Janet Beihl.

Brooke Lehman: Building Transformative movements: How can we build democratic organizations and movements powerful enough to shift systemic power and grounded enough to evolve the very nature how we relate to each other and to our own deepest sense of purpose? In this class students will develop their own personal mission and vision statements; practice communication skills for effective leadership; and learn how to design healthy organizational
structures and coalitions.

Brian Tokar: Social Justice and Climate Action

Brian Tokar is currently the director of the Institute for Social Ecology and a lecturer of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont. His most recent book is Toward Climate Justice: Perspectives on the Climate Crisis and Social Change.

Hilary Moore with James Tracy: Solidarity and Alliance Building

Hilary Moore is a founding member of Mobilization for Climate Justice- West in the Bay Area. She co-wrote the booklet Organizing Cools the Planet: Tools and Reflections to Navigate the Climate Crisis with Joshua Kahn Russell.

James Tracy is an organizer with the San Francisco Community Land Trust and author of Hillbilly Nationalist, Urban Race Rebels , and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times with Amy Sonnie.

Andrej Grubacic: International Movements for Democracy: What is democracy? This class will focus on several historical instances of direct democracy. From the Cossak “krug,” to the pirate ship, and from the runnaway “palenque” of Maroons, to the Chiapas village assembly.

Andrej Grubacic is a member of the International Council of the World Social Forum, the Industrial Workers of the World, and the Global Balkans Network. His most recent work is Don’t Mourn, Balkanize! Essays After Yugoslavia.

*More teachers and evening speakers TBA. The Intensive will also offer a field trip to explore urban land straggles. 

*Schedule and full class descriptions coming soon

For more information, email

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