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Social Ecology

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People in Charge : Creating Self Managing Workplaces (Social Ecology Series)
coverSocial Ecology After Bookchin (Democracy and Ecology)  by Andrew Light (Editor), Glen A. Albrecht (Contributor), John Clark (Contributor).   

For close to four decades, Murray Bookchin's eco-anarchist theory of social ecology has inspired philosophers and activists working to link environmental concerns with the desire for a free and egalitarian society. New veins of social ecology are now emerging, both extending and challenging Bookchin's ideas. For this instructive book, Andrew Light has assembled leading theorists to contemplate the next steps in the development of social ecology. Topics covered include reassessing ecological ethics, combining social ecology and feminism, building decentralized communities, evaluating new technology, relating theory to activism, and improving social ecology through interaction with other left traditions. This forward-looking volume provides a new look at social ecology that will be welcomed by scholars, activists, and students who are interested in the past, present, and future of environmental thought.

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Institute for Social Ecology

Established in 1974 and incorporated in 1981, the ISE is an independent institution of higher education dedicated to the study of social ecology, an interdisciplinary field drawing on philosophy, political and social theory, anthropology, history, economics, the natural sciences, and feminism. The ISE offers intensive summer programs, a year-round B.A. degree program, workshops on issues such as biotechnology, fall and winter lecture series, internship opportunities, and a speakers bureau. ISE's campus also plays host to art exhibits, conferences, and other events... 

As both an educational and activist organization, the ISE is committed to the social and ecological transformation of society. It is the ISE's core belief that the human potential to play a creative role in natural and social evolution can be realized, thereby allowing us to foster communities free from hierarchy, social inequity, and ecological degradation. The ISE views the global penetration of systems of domination into daily life, the centralization of political and economic 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.

Left Green Perspectives

With the emergence of a new millennium, it should not be surprising that old socialist ideologies--borne of the Industrial Revolution--are no longer adequate to encompass the sweeping social changes that have occurred over the past two centuries. As transnational capitalism, facilitated by radically new technological means, becomes ever more pervasive, and as commodity relations replace seemingly imperishable human ties, people everywhere understandably feel that they are losing control over the institutions and culture that determines their loves as social beings. On matters of the greatest importance for their lives, decisions are made anonymously by the wealthy and powerful, and even mindlessly by economic forces over which they have no control. Increasingly, they are looking for ways to regain control over the institutions that affect their well-being in a matter that is fully democratic and expressive of their genuine wishes.

An awareness of these popular aspirations has been an ever-growing feature of Left Green Perspectives. Since 1986, our newsletter has been advancing libertarian municipalism, a program for face-to-face democracy, within the framework of revolutionary libertarian socialism. Since the late 1990s, friends who share these ideas have been involved in a process of transcending traditional emancipatory ideologies, especially Marxism and anarchism, while incorporating the best features of both into a new radical synthesis of ideas and politics.

We are advancing a broad set of ideas--Communalism--that seeks to elaborate a humanistic and social perspective on ecology and a radical opposition to all forms of social hierarchy and domination, as well as class rule and exploitation. Communalism seeks to rescue the highest ideals and goals of the Enlightenment from the antihumanist (even misanthropic) and antirationalist tide that is rising everywhere today in popular culture and the academy. Above all, Communalism seeks to transform cities into arenas for a new democratic political sphere, based on face-to-face democracy, structured around citizens' assemblies at the town and neighborhood level, confederated over broader territories. In our view, face-to-face democracy is not a street protest: it is a set of permanent decision-making institutions by which people take responsibility for their communities and gain control over their economic life in the form of municipally owned and managed, as well as confederally coordinated, enterprises. We hope to We hope to explore all the details of this project in future issues of our newsletter.

At present, Left Green Perspectives is the principal organ where this new Communalist perspective is being developed in the United States. We have every expectation that this project will be taken up elsewhere as well, in other periodicals and movements and organizations. Our comrades in Scandinavia are planning a Communalist journal in the foreseeable future, to which we plan to contribute, and we will inform our readers as soon as it appears.

New ideas are needed to address new social developments. The socialist, revolutionary Left must also evolve if it is not to become a sectarian relic of the past. We urge all readers and interested people to join us in exploring the new possibilities for radical social transformation that a Communalist perspective opens.


Murray Bookchin

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School of Social Ecology
University of California, Irvine.  Social Ecology is an interdisciplinary field that examines the relationships between people and their environment.  It integrates behavioral, environmental, legal, and health sciences.  

Research in social ecology is organized around two key themes:

bulletThe application of basic theory and research to the analysis and resolution of problems affecting regional and global communities.
bulletA multidisciplinary and multilevel approach that ensures understanding of these issues from a wide range of perspectives, including individual behavior and motivation, social influence, organizational and community dynamics, and policy initiatives enacted at state, regional, and international levels.


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