Communal Pathways to Sustainable Living

Conference of the International Communal Studies Association (ICSA) Findhorn Community, 26–28 June 2013.

The Findhorn Foundation and community will proudly host the 11th international conference of the International Communal Studies Association in June 2013, bringing together up to 250 communal scholars and community activists from around the world. The conference and associated events will offer a rare opportunity in a unique communal setting to share academic research and lived experience of collective life in intentional communities such as ecovillages, cohousing, communes, kibbutzim, sectarian communities and housing cooperatives.

The conference title and themes focus on the nexus between community and sustainability. At a time of increased public awareness of the human causes of climate change, there is a critical need for information about, and demonstration of, low impact sustainable lifestyles. Historically, many intentional communities developed materially modest lifestyles in small socially cohesive groups, striving for self-sufficiency and exercising stewardship of their land. Modern day ecovillages, of which Findhorn is a prime example, seek to further reduce their ecological impact by technological, social and other means. This conference will showcase sustainable lifestyles within communal settings and offer a wellspring of data, analysis, ideas and applications to inform and inspire those attending.

Conference Themes
Community and sustainability are both rich, multi-faceted concepts, therefore the range of topics and themes which might be addressed at the conference is commensurately broad. We offer the list below as a smorgasbord of possibilities, all of which we believe have relevance. Popular themes will likely become overarching themes for sessions of paper presentations.

  • Communal living: past, present and future
  • What is the nature of a sustainable society?
  • Sustainability through collective endeavour
  • Communities and anti-consumerism
  • Alternative / community economics
  • Cohousing and ecovillages as sustainable models
  • Transition Towns as mainstream community action
  • Community glue (cultural, spiritual, ecological etc.)
  • Ritual and celebration in community
  • Building social cohesion within community
  • Education within communal settings
  • Children and youth in community
  • Family in community
  • Gender issues in community
  • Aging and the elderly in community
  • Community and people with disabilities
  • Working with minorities in community
  • Cultural development in community
  • Personal transformation in community
  • Co-creation with nature in community
  • Gardens as utopian/communal settings
  • Sustainable architecture within community
  • Decision making in community
  • Issues of power and control in community
  • Grass-roots empowerment via community
  • Community involvement with wider society
  • Community and the Internet

Call for Papers and Presentations
We invite proposals for the following:

  • Paper Presentations: of completed academic research or work-in-progress (e.g. PhD fieldwork) in the form of a written paper (3000–5000 words) and oral presentation (up to 20 minutes). Papers of an acceptable (academic) standard will be included in Conference Proceedings to be published online.
  • Workshop Presentations: sessions (1–1.5 hours long) of engaging participatory dialogue (and/or activity) on a relevant topic, typically beginning with an introduction (15–20 minutes) by one or more facilitators.
  • Poster Presentations: illustrated display boards about intentional communities from around the world (existing and proposed). These will be displayed for the duration of the conference and time will be made available for informal presentation to those interested.

All presentation types require submission of an abstract or proposal (200–300 words) in the first instance, together with a short presenter’s bio (50–60 words). These will be published in the conference handbook so should be concise and engaging.

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