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
Helena is an internationally recognized pioneer in the worldwide localization movement and a leading analyst of the impact of the global economy on culture and agriculture. She was among the first westerners to visit Ladakh when the region was opened to tourism and “development” in 1975. She was able to quickly master the Ladakhi language, giving her a unique insider perspective as western goods, policies and attitudes impacted the indigenous culture. She founded the Ladakh Project and since that time, she has spent part of every year in Ladakh, working with the Ladakhi people to protect their culture and environment from the effects of rapid modernization. For this work, Helena was awarded the 1986 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. She is the author of Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh and co-author of Bringing the Food Economy Home. Her articles have appeared in numerous volumes and periodicals such as The Ecologist, Resurgence, and YES! magazine.
Helena is also on the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture. She is a member of the editorial board of The Ecologist magazine, a co-founder of both the International Forum on Globalisation, and the Global Eco-village Network.
John Page, Programs Director
John is a UK-trained lawyer and coordinated the technical and cultural programs of the Ladakh Project for more than ten years. John is the producer/director of the award-winning film Ancient Futures, as well as the short documentary The Future of Progress. He is co-author of the book From the Ground Up: Rethinking Industrial Agriculture, and contributor to book The Future of Progress. His articles on development and globalization have appeared in The Ecologist and Resurgence magazines and his series of photographs depicting the spread of the global monoculture have been used by NGOs around the world.
Steven Gorelick, US Programs Director
Steven is author of Small is Beautiful, Big is Subsidized and co-author of Bringing the Food Economy Home. Gorelick's work has been featured in The Ecologist and Resurgence magazines. He frequently teaches and speaks on local economics around the US. He also operates a small-scale organic farm with his wife and two children in Vermont, US.
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.
Kristen Steele, UK Programs Coordinator
Kristen holds a BA in Environmental Studies and began working for ISEC in 2000 as Personal Assistant to the Director. She has since worked on fundraising, programme coordination and writing. In addition to coordinating ISEC's activities in the UK, she edits the organisation's Newsletter and Annual Reports. Following her lifelong passion for working with wildlife, she is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Wild Animal Biology.
Marjana Kos, Personal Assistant to the Director
Marjana began working for ISEC in 2006. She holds an MSc in Holistic Science from Schumacher College and focused her studies on the topic of money. She lives in Slovenia and in addition to her job as PA, works as a freelance translator. 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.
Lin Etherden, Adminstrator
Lin manages ISEC's International office in the UK and coordinates participants in the Learning from Ladakh program from outside North America. Lin grew up in Sweden and has travelled widely in India, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America. She studied economic history, anthropology and development studies at Uppsala University. She also worked for Emmaus Stockholm supporting grassroots empowerment movements in the global south before embarking on her travels. Lin now lives in Totnes, England where she is involved in several community projects and practices shiatsu, dance and yoga in her free time.
Victoria Clarke, Administrative Coordinator
Victoria manages ISEC's Berkeley office and coordinates North American participants in the Learning From Ladakh program. Victoria spent 4 months in Ladakh in 1998 as part of her studies with the School for International Training. She also worked on the United Nations' 10-year review of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. Having lived and travelled abroad, she is settled in San Francisco where she grows vegetables on her roof top and explores the possibilities for urban homesteading.
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.