Screenshot 2022-06-09 at 15-20-23 ESEE podcast

The following is a normative vision for ESEE. The vision was initially developed by the ESEE Board using the method of participatory backcasting. Backcasting is a scenario-building exercise that starts by establishing a normative future state and working backwards from that idealised scenario, identifying steps to help achieve it. During the 2022 ESEE conference in Pisa, the Board asked members of the society to suggest amendments to a draft vision statement that was developed by the ESEE Board and presented during the conference’s General Assembly. The following revised version incorporates suggestions voiced by members on the initial draft. As a normative vision, the text below represents a future state that the ESEE Board aspires towards in its actions.


A Vision for ESEE

ESEE is an academic society that actively promotes sustainable and fair societies. It understands the economy as a system that is embedded within society, which is in turn embedded within, and fully dependent, upon Earth’s finite, life-supporting systems. At the same time, these are all dynamic and open systems. This worldview is crucial because we have inherited an economic system that is failing to meet people’s essential needs while at the same time overshooting multiple planetary boundaries.

ESEE aims to increase the relevance and influence of ecological economics in addressing grand challenges, such as human deprivation, inequalities, the (neo)-colonial debt towards the Global South, the dramatic impact of our economy on ecosystems, and acting urgently to avoid ecological breakdown. In addressing these challenges, we focus on providing systemic alternatives.

In cooperation with other like-minded networks, ESEE works to include a diversity of perspectives in economics teaching, and to increase knowledge of ecological economics. We support the decolonisation of science and moving beyond its patriarchal foundations. Next to its focus on higher education, ESEE also supports a diversity of economics teaching within the primary and secondary education system. To reach a wider audience, we use language that inspires, and that engages with a plurality of values.

To provide alternatives to the increasing neoliberalisation of academia, we reclaim the role of academics as public servants, and universities as public entities. Concerned with long working hours, burn-out, publication pressures, and marketisation at universities, ESEE works towards an academic system where working conditions are fair and just. Academics should be given time to live fuller lives, embedded in society and nature.

ESEE is a transdisciplinary society that leads discussion of the political implications of our research. To help achieve a sustainable and fair society, ESEE enters into political dialogues in areas such as governance, ownership, and finance; supports local initiatives; and engages with activists. We have a strong relationship with other networks and societies and engage together in political action. In policy-making processes, ESEE encourages research that supports political action to meet the goals of sustainability and fairness, and endorses statements and manifestos towards these ends.

ESEE supports social transformations through facilitating knowledge sharing, such as open-access publishing, and also through connections to other social actors and like-minded disciplines. We support our members to challenge the rules and norms that hinder social transformation. Within ESEE we practise democratic processes, distribute tasks evenly, and engage members in different tasks. We continuously reflect on our impact on society, and support network-to-network connections to different social groups. We also reflect on our privileges and provide an inclusive space for silenced and marginalised voices. At our conferences we provide space for in-depth discussions and have regional and/or thematic events between conferences.

By pursuing this vision, ESEE aims to provide scientifically rigorous and socially inspiring alternatives to the unsustainable and unequal trajectory that global society is currently on.