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 Work & Campaigns


This page briefly describes the kind of things I do with links to further details. Most of my work is constellated by a passion for community...  I see the lack of it, or damage to it, as a prime driver of the the lack of meaning, emptiness and loneliness that underlies many of the world's most pressing problems. Human ecology is therefore central to my work because it is the study of, and participation in, human community in relation to the wider natural environment. It therefore encompasses the great issues of our times, including the roots of war, poverty, meaninglessness and climate change.

For me, community is much more than just another name for society. It has three pillars - relationship with one another, relationship with the natural world, and relationship with the psychospiritual underpinning of all life. "Soil, soul and society" are therefore themes that weave through all my work. Integrating these requires bringing about a rich connection between our inner and outer lives. As such, both action and reflection interlace through all that I do and in the ways that I work with others.


Alastair McIntosh, courtesy of "Howies Do" 2008 Writing, Speaking, Broadcasting.  Much of my work is about communicating - mainly through my books, public addresses, and some broadcasting. Links to the  books and published articles are at the top of this page, and my itinerary of forthcoming public engagements is on my home page here with an idea of the topics I speak on given here. These days I receive more speaking invitations than I can accommodate - especially where long-distance travel is involved - so best to contact me with enquiries well in advance. But I do enjoy public speaking in situations where there's a really interested or challenging group to engage with, especially where such groups are committed to working, as they see it, for a better world. That applies especially where some of their worldviews might be radically at variance with my own, which is why I lecture internationally to the military and multinational corporations, as well as to community, charitable and academic groups such as comprise my more natural constituency.

Croft house, Isle of Harris, courtesy of Rhona MacKinnon

Advancement of Human Ecology.  Human ecology as an approach to burning world issues that draws on many different disciplines. In the early 1990s I was Course Director of the pioneering MSc programme at the Centre for Human Ecology in Edinburgh University. Up until 2010 the CHE worked in partnership with the Open University and then the Department of Geography and Sociology at Strathclyde University where I remain Scotland's first Visiting Professor of Human Ecology until the end of 2013. The MSc, however, has had to be laid down due to cost cutting in the humanities at the University. My next book contains papers that pull together accumulated experience in human ecology. Co-edited with Lewis Williams (lead editor) and Rose Roberts of the University of Saskatchewan with multiple contributors, Radical Human Ecology: Intercultural and Indigenous Approaches is due in January 2012 from Ashgate (but horribly expensive as academic books often are). Other publications are available free online here.

Eigg's Independence Day, 12 June 1997, courtesy of Murdo Macleod

Land Reform - Action and Research. In 1991 I became a trustee of the campaign that led, in 1997, to the Isle of Eigg gaining independence from landlordism as the island came into community control. The campaign then shifted to participating in a widely-based movement that resulted in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 being passed by the Scottish Parliament. We now have over a third of a million acres of Scotland - 2% of the land mass - in community ownership via some 200 community groups. My land reform work these days includes linking with other indigenous peoples worldwide, and conducting academic research into the psychology and spirituality of landownership and the community empowerment necessary to bring about transformation on the ground. More ....
Climate Change. I have written two books on this for Birlinn (Edinburgh). Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition (2008), and most recently, Riders on the Storm: the Climate Crisis and the Survival of Being (2008). See my books.


"A climate primer for our times" - Professor Michael E. Mann (Riders on the Storm)

"Solid on the science yet dedicated to the human spirit" - Professor Katharine Hayhoe (Riders on the Storm)

"Very scientifically rigorous ... a kind of rage and optimism" - Open Book, BBC Radio 4 (Hell and High Water)

Photo: Norman Bissell, Cullipool Conservation Village, 2020).

War and Peace - Military Colleges. As a Quaker, a spiritual tradition that has peace work at its heart, I have  been regularly invited since the 1990s to military institutions in the UK, Ireland, France and Switzerland to lecture on alternatives to war. A sense of what I say, and the insights and reflections that it gives rise to, is woven as a major theme through my book Poacher's Pilgrimage. My general perspective on nonviolence is given in this chapter of my book with Matt Carmichael, Spiritual Activism, and in this contribution to a British military standard textbook, Ethics, Law and Military Operations. Over this time I have addressed most of a generation of senior British officers. Why were they interested? I think, because many in senior command know that war can create as many problems as they'd hope it solves. I have repeatedly been told, "You remind us of the limits," and in 2018 after 20 years of speaking annually on the Advanced Command & Staff Course at the Joint Services Command & Staff College, the UK Defence Academy presented me with a silver paper knife with the engraved words, "For broadening our horizons."

Photo: MoD JSCSC, Cormorant Lecture Theatre, Shrivenham, 2018

GalGael on the Clyde, Glasgow, in a boat built by themselves - courtesy of Bernie Whyte Urban Regeneration with the GalGael Trust. In 1997 I became a founding trustee and director of the GalGael Trust, and in 2003 Vérčne and I moved to live in the Greater Govan area to be closer to this work and its vibrant  community that seeks to rebuild urban-rural connections. Govan is one of the poorest areas of Scotland, and what inspires us about the GalGael's work is the depth of humanity that emerges in people from some of the most hard-pressed living circumstances. Today, I am the Hon Treasurer of the GalGael, but I also play a wider visioning role, as the following link will suggest.  More ...
Mount Roineabhal from Rodel, Isle of Harris - the site that was proposed for a superquarry - photo Alastair McIntosh Harris Superquarry and CSR follow-through. Between 1991 and 2004 I was closely involved with the campaign that stopped Redland and, subsequently, Lafarge, from opening a "superquarry" in the National Scenic Area of the Isle of Harris. The pages from the index linked here document that cause celebre. They include some of the key legal material, reports and my own papers and articles. But there is a peculiar added twist to it all. After successfully blocking Lafarge, which is the world's biggest cement producer and responsible for 0.5% of world carbon dioxide emissions, I was invited to help them develop their corporate social responsibility polices. I agreed to do so on an unpaid basis in warm recognition of how, in the end, they did the decent thing on Harris. This has led to fascinating and sometimes inspiring insights into the dynamics between industry and socio-environmental responsibility. As such, the links on my "superquarry briefing" page are used extensively by students both of environmentalism and of CSR. More ...
Students from the Centre for Human Ecology / Strathclyde University with Alastair McIntosh on a study visit to Iona, 2008 - courtesy of a press-ganged tourist Spiritual Activism. This is the course that I run on the MSc degree in Human Ecology in the Department of Geography and Sociology at the University of Strathclyde. I teach it because, in my experience, when activists are in for the long haul many either burn out or sell out. We get dragged down by the weight of the issues we're wrestling with. To sustain ourselves, we have to take a deeper look at that burden of awareness and find ways of turning it into a precious burden - one that can actually enrich our lives and lend insight into the human condition. This MSc level (20 credits) course is also available to paying external students as continued professional development subject to the availability of places. Sometimes I also teach versions of it elsewhere such as at Schumacher College in England. More....
Human ecology students in discussion on Eigg - photo Alastair McIntosh Other Issues, Campaigns, Research and Interests. My work spans a wide range of interests that have bearing on the human condition. Most of this has found expression in papers published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as well as in more everyday outlets such as newspaper and magazine articles. For the best overview, the link given here will take you to the classified index of all my publications. More ...
Consultancy, Training and Events. Details of forthcoming events of all types are given in the itinerary on my home page. For information on how I charge and for personal financial accountability in a context where some of my work may be considered controversial, and where I work with organisations ranging from penniless radical community groups to multinational corporations, click this link. More ...
Photos for media use, CVs and a short bio for 3rd party adaptation. More ...


Last updated: 28 January 2022