Orfalea Center Thematic Research Cluster
Environmental Justice & Climate Justice Studies
Global South/East Partners
The Global Tapestry of Alternatives (GTA) is an initiative seeking to create solidarity networks and strategic alliances amongst all these alternatives on local, regional and global levels. It locates itself in or helps initiate interactions among alternatives. It operates through varied and light structures, defined in each space, that are horizontal, democratic, inclusive and non-centralized, using diverse local languages and other ways of communicating. The initiative has no central structure or control mechanisms.
The GTA has a new and ongoing project to produce a series of “thematic reports” showcasing real world examples coming from alternatives as a response to problems, crises and challenges in the context of global crises. Each of the reports will include 6-8 stories across the world in the form of short stories with lessons and recommendations. One part of this has been published as Vikalp Sangam, “Extraordinary Work of ‘Ordinary’ People: Beyond Pandemics and Lockdowns” (May 2020) and is available here.
The UCSB collaboration is around a project on Alternatives to Education in the Pandemic and After. John Foran is working with a team of four scholars to develop a set of analyses from around the world that seek to present and evaluate ways to transform climate and social justice education beyond what is available in what we might call the “business as usual” university.
The EJ/CJ Hub has ongoing collaborations from our summer work:
Transforming Education to Confront the Climate Crisis
So far, this group has produced a two-hour discussion on the challenges and possibilities for this kind of work, “Transforming Education to Confront the Climate Crisis.”
Systemic Alternatives: Transition Towns Movements
Udi Mandel Butler’s work focuses on enlivened learning practices for regenerating ecologies and communities and for reimagining higher education to offer hopeful futures. This has included a collaboration with social and ecological movements and indigenous communities across the globe. Udi has co-founded with Kelly Teamey and others the Enlivened Learning project and the Ecoversities Alliance– an international alliance of places of learning and higher education committed to social and ecological justice and regeneration. Udi’s work combines social research, historically contextualized and critically ethnographic, with more co-creative and collaborative methods of inquiry. In addition to published articles and books Udi experiments with creative forms of communication, such as documentary filmmaking and collaborative exhibitions. Udi received a PhD in social anthropology from Goldsmiths College (University of London), an MScin International Development from the University of Bristol, and an MFA from the University of Edinburgh and has held faculty appointments at the School of International Training (USA), EARTH University (Costa Rica), the University of Bristol (UK), and the University of Oxford.
Vasna Ramasar (PhD, South Africa/Sweden) is an Associate Senior Lecturer in the Division of Human Ecology, Department of Human Geography, Lund University and a Research affiliate at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS) in Sweden. She is the Programme Director for the Culture, Power and Sustainability international Masters. Her research and teaching focuses on political ecology; environmental governance and alternatives to development from a feminist and decolonial perspective. Being a generalist at heart, she is most interested trying to understand the big picture of how people and planetary dynamics come together and the complexity of these interactions for social and environmental justice. Vasna has worked for over a decade outside academia across Africa, India, USA and Europe. She is a core group member of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives (globaltapestryofalternatives.org), Post-Development Academic Activist Group (PEDAGOG) and the Non-Binary people and Women of Colour group Copenhagen.
Alessandra Pomarico (PhD, USA/Italy) is an independent curator, writer and educator working at the intersection of arts, pedagogy, social issues, and nano-politics. Steering committee member of the global Ecoversities Alliance (www.ecoversities.org) dedicated to reimagining higher education, Alessandra is the co-founder of Free Home University, artistic and pedagogical experiment on commoning and knowledge sharing (www.fhu.art), social practice hub Ammirato Culture House, and residency program Sound Res. Editor of www.artseverywhere.ca, she curated: Pedagogies Otherwise, The Reader; co-edited What’s there to learn; and When the Roots Start Moving: On displacement and belonging (2021).
Ashish Kothari, “The Ten Uncommandments: Towards a Rainbow New Deal” (December 13, 2020),
John Foran, “Transforming the University to Confront the Climate Crisis in Resilience
Part Three: Toward a Pluriverse of Climate Justice Universities. August 6, 2020.
Vikalp Sangam, “Extraordinary Work of ‘Ordinary’ People: Beyond Pandemics and Lockdowns” (2020),
Vikalp Sangam, “Extraordinary Work of ‘Ordinary’ People: Beyond Pandemics and Lockdowns” (A graphic novel version) (2020)