Institute for Social Ecology

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The Institute for Social Ecology (ISE) is an educational institution in Plainfield, Vermont dedicated to the study of social ecology, an anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian strain of ecology that is a form of libertarian socialism.


The Institute for Social Ecology was established at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont in 1974 by cultural anthropologist Daniel Chodorkoff and author Murray Bookchin. The ISE became independent from Goddard in 1981, establishing its own campus on a farm in Plainfield.[1]

The Institute for Social Ecology has been involved in the exploration of ecological approaches to food production, alternative technologies, and urban design. It has been engaged with the Anti-Nuclear Movement of the 1970s, the Global Justice Movement of the 90's, and the Occupy movement to challenge nuclear power, global injustices and unsustainable biotechnologies, while building participatory, community-based alternatives.


The ISE hosts summer programs, a year-round B.A. degree program, workshops on issues such as biotechnology and a speakers bureau. The ISE is involved in research as well as publishing and activist projects.

Intensives 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.

MA Program at Prescott College The ISE works in collaboration with the Prescott College Master of Arts Program (MAP) to offer a concentration in social ecology for Prescott MAP students. Students attend colloquia in Prescott, Arizona and in Vermont, while working independently in their home communities in collaboration with an ISE graduate advisor.

Summer Colloquia The Institute for Social Ecology has held annual summer colloquia since 2007. These weekend gatherings have been an occasion for both new and longtime associates of the Institute to discuss current issues, workshop writing projects, and renew a sense of community.[2]

Activism Over the past decade, the ISE's primary activist focus has been around opposition to genetic engineering of food and trees, exposing the broader myths of biotechnology, involvement in the growing movement for climate justice, and bringing a community-centered, grassroots approach to a variety of social and ecological issues. The ISE’s approach to grassroots organizing is rooted in the principles of decentralism, community control, and face-to-face, direct democracy. that have broadly inspired many of today’s movements for global justice.[3]

Notable faculty[edit]

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