A Brief History of ESAC
The Environmental Studies Association of Canada (ESAC) is a Learned Society formed in 1993 to further research and teaching activities in areas related to environmental studies in Canada. ESAC is a non-profit, federally incorporated, bilingual organization open to members from across Canada and elsewhere. Members are welcome from educational institutions, government agencies, and private sector and non-profit organizations.
During the 1993 Learned Societies Conference there were 37 sessions on the environment distributed across several different disciplines and held by several different Learned Societies. Many people had considered the prospect of a learned society or equivalent in Environmental Studies before then. After the 1993 Learned Societies Conference, however, the need for a research and education association dedicated to Environmental Studies was seen to be crucial by a group of sociology, philosophy, and environmental studies graduate students at York University.
The group first began meeting in late June of 1993, and within a year, ESAC had been incorporated and had held its first meetings at the Calgary Learned Societies conference in 1994. All of this was possible because of a great deal of volunteer labour on the part of the interim Board of Directors, as well as the in-kind and financial support of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and Graduate Environmental Studies Students’ Association. Within the next year, Alternatives was chosen as the official journal of ESAC and it published the first ESAC theme issue, and the University of Waterloo became the home of ESAC. The second annual ESAC conference was held at the Montreal Learneds in 1995. In 1996 the conference was in St. Catharines and in 1997 it was in St. John’s. In 1998 we held our most successful and well-attended conference to date, our fifth annual conference in Ottawa.