What is E4A?

Economics for the Anthropocene (E4A) is a graduate training and research partnership designed to improve how the social sciences and humanities connect to ecological and economic realities and challenges of the Anthropocene. Overarching goals are to articulate, teach and apply a new understanding of human-Earth relationships grounded in and informed by the insights of contemporary science.

Based at McGill University, York University and University of Vermont, E4A forms the core of the partnership that includes academic, government, and NGO partners.


Human activity is degrading Earth’s life support systems. Fresh water is too often contaminated, in short supply, and subject to competing claims. Continued reliance on non-renewable sources of energy is unsustainable and faces increasingly unacceptable trade-offs for both regional and global environments. Irreversible climate changes are raising stark questions of justice.  Yet, prevailing norms continue to rely on economics grounded in thought systems that insufficiently account for knowledge of how human society interacts with and affects Earth’s life systems.

Terms defined:

E4A uses the word anthropocene to signal a time in history when human activity is a dominant factor in the destabilization of Earth’s life support systems. We recognize that certain groups of humans have contributed and continue to contribute to the Earth’s destabilization much more than others.

E4A uses the word economics to indicate the mechanisms by which humans agree to procure, transform and exchange goods and services with one another.

E4A uses the words ecological economics to refer to an economic system that supports ecologically sustainable, socially fair and economically efficient human activity.


E4A is funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grant Program and generous contributions from grant partners and private contributors including the Lintilhac Foundation and Peter Rose, University of Vermont Class of 1955.