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 has offered 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. In addition, the ISE is involved in research as well as publishing and activist projects.

As 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.

Social ecology advocates a reconstructive approach that promotes a directly democratic, confederal politics. As a body of ideas, social ecology envisions a moral economy that moves beyond scarcity and hierarchy toward a world that fully celebrates diversity. The ISE has been a pioneer in the exploration of ecological means of food production, like organic gardening and permaculture, and alternative technologies. Studies combine theoretical and experiential learning in community organizing, political action, ecological economics, and sustainable building and land use. The ISE, as such, strives to be an agent of social transformation, demonstrating the skills, ideas, and relationships that can nurture vibrant, self-governed, ecological communities.

For over 35 years, from the antinuclear and ecology movements to the current one against pervasive militarism and the bleak side of globalization, the ISE has inspired individuals involved in social change to work toward a humane, ecological, and liberatory society. Join the more than 3,000 students from around the globe—from Liberia to the Philippines, Italy to Iran, Norway to Uruguay, Israel to Ethiopia, the United States to Japan, and many more—who have attended the ISE in order to not only remake themselves but remake society as well.