ISEC's mission is to protect and renew ecological and social well being by promoting a systemic shift away from economic globalization towards localization. Through its 'education for action' programs, ISEC develops innovative models and tools to catalyze collaboration for strategic change at the community and international level.
ISEC's work began as The Ladakh Project more than thirty years ago in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. The organization initially focused on supporting Ladakh's indigenous culture by bringing information to balance the idealized images of the consumer culture flooding into the region through tourism and development. In 1986, ISEC's director Helena Norberg-Hodge won the Right Livelihood Award for groundbreaking sustainability work in the region.
Over the years, the organisation's focus has expanded to address more global concerns and in 1991 changed its name to the International Society for Ecology and Culture to reflect that shift. We have made advocating for localization the main priority of our work. ISEC is almost unique in promoting localization from an international perspective – showing the benefits for the Third World as well as for the First World, and promoting the local, globally.
ISEC: A Brief History: An outline of ISEC's activities and achievements from 1975 to 2005.
Wendell Berry, Frijof Capra, Peter Matthiessen, Diana Rose, Jonathan Rose, Vandana Shiva, David Suzuki, Alice Waters
Who We Are
Helena Norberg-Hodge, Founder and Director
Author and filmmaker Helena Norberg-Hodge is the founder and director of ISEC. A pioneer of the 'new economy' movement, she has been promoting an economics of personal, social and ecological well-being for more than thirty years. She is the producer and co-director of the award-winning documentary The Economics of Happiness, and is the author of Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh, described as "an inspirational classic". She has given public lectures in seven languages, and has appeared in broadcast, print, and online media worldwide, including MSNBC, The London Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Guardian. She was honored with the Right Livelihood Award (or 'Alternative Nobel Prize') for her groundbreaking work in Ladakh, and received the 2012 Goi Peace Prize for contributing to "the revitalization of cultural and biological diversity, and the strengthening of local communities and economies worldwide." For a more complete biography, click here
John Page, International Programs Director
John Page is ISEC's Programs Director. Trained as a barrister, he was instrumental in establishing ISEC's partner organisations in Ladakh. In addition, he produced and directed the award-winning film Ancient Futures, as well as the short documentaries The Future of Progress and Local Futures. He is co-author of From the Ground Up: Rethinking Industrial Agriculture. His series of photographs depicting the spread of the global monoculture have been used by NGOs around the world.
Steven Gorelick, Managing/Programs Director
Steven Gorelick is ISEC's Managing/Programs Director. He is the author of Small is Beautiful, Big is Subsidized, co-author of Bringing the Food Economy Home, and co-director of The Economics of Happiness. His writings have been published in The Ecologist and Resurgence magazines. He frequently teaches and speaks on local economics around the US. He also runs a small-scale organic farm with his wife and two children in Vermont.
Kristen Steele, Associate Programs Director
Kristen Steele holds a BA in Environmental Studies and a Master's degree in Wild Animal Biology from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Royal Veterinary College, University of London. She began working for ISEC in 2000 as Assistant to the Director and has since worked in fundraising, writing and program coordination. She also organised the 2012 and 2013 Economics of Happiness Conferences. She regularly participates in wildlife-related activities, including rescue and rehabilitation, and has a particular interest in the intersection between economics and conservation.
Anja Lyngbaek, Programs Coordinator
Anja Lyngbaek has worked with ISEC on a number of specific projects since 1986, including the UK Local Food Program. Anja currently lives in Mexico lives on a small-holding with her family. She is co-founder and Programs Director of "Microcuenca del Rio Citlalapa"- a local NGO in Veracruz, focused on sustainable community development. She has co-founded a rural primary school with this in mind. Anja gives talks, holds workshops and teaches on a variety of subject related to food and farming, localisation and eco-technologies to children and adults.
Brian Emerson, Project Coordinator
Brian has worked with ISEC in the US and India where he has coordinated sustainable development projects, led interactive workshops, and developed curricula for ISEC's 'education-for-action' initiatives. Brian has completed graduate work at the University of California Santa Cruz and Portland State University where he studied the political economy of development, global/local food systems, social-ecological resilience, and community planning. Brian also holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Utah, and a Professional Diploma in Sustainable Community Economic Development from Simon Fraser University.
Marjana Kos, Executive Assistant
Marjana Kos began working for ISEC in 2006. She holds an Master's degree in Holistic Science from Schumacher College and focused her studies on the topic of money. She lives in Slovenia and spends her free time revitalizing a derelict hectare of land with her partner and young son, creating a forest garden and building a low-impact, natural home made of local materials. She is also active in raising awareness about issues of globalisation, new economics, the money system and complementary currencies. She writes articles, keeps a blog and gives talks and workshops on these topics.
Victoria Clarke, Administrative Coordinator
Victoria manages ISEC's Berkeley, California office and coordinates participants in the Learning From Ladakh program. She spent four months in Ladakh in 1998 as part of her MA from the School for International Training. Upon completion of her degree, Victoria worked on the United Nations' 10-year review of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. Having lived and traveled abroad, she now resides in San Francisco where she grows vegetables on her rooftop and explores possibilities for urban permaculture.
James Miller, Media & Outreach Coordinator
James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from Naropa Univeristy in Boulder, CO with a BA in Traditional Eastern Arts. In trying to understand human suffering, he became greatly interested in the consequences of economic globalization. James joined ISEC in 2010 to help with the promotion of The Economics of Happiness. Inspired by the film, he is pursuing degrees in medicine and public health to deepen his engagement with the social, political, and economic roots of well-being.
Tracy Worcester, Associate Director
Tracy, the Marchioness of Worcester, is a well-known environmental campaigner and film-maker in the UK. She is former patron of the Soil Association, former trustee of Friends of the Earth and trustee of the Gaia Foundation. She is founder of the Price of Progress Productions and her most recent film is Pig Business.
Zac Goldsmith, Associate Director
Zac was editor of The Ecologist magazine from 1997 until 2007 and launched campaigns on climate change, GM food and pesticides, among other issues. In 2003, he received the Beacon Prize for Philanthropy and in 2004 received Mikhail Gorbachev's Global Green Award for 'International Environmental Leadership'. Zac was invited to oversee the Conservative Party's Quality of Life Policy Group in 2005, which helped develop the Party's policies on issues ranging from transport, housing and energy to food, farming and the countryside. In the 2010 UK elections, he was elected Member of Parliament for Richmond Park and North Kingston in London.
We are a 501(c)3 organization incorporated in California. We adhere to Bylaws adopted in 1991, including oversight by a Board of Directors. Our funding comes largely from individual donors and foundations, as well as from the sale of publications and videos, and lecture and writing fees.
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LOCAL BITES PODCAST
featuring critical voices and inspiring examples from the worldwide movement for localization.
The ECONOMICS of HAPPINESS BLOG
The ECONOMICS of HAPPINESS CONFERENCE 2013
ECONOMICS of HAPPINESS
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Translated into over 40 Languages.