The History of the Alternative Journal – A J
The 1960s and 1970s were landmark decades for environmental activity; they marked a time when the concept of ecology first hit the radar of general public consciousness. They also marked the birth of organizations like Pollution Probe, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, Environment Canada – and our own Alternatives journal.
It was during this leafy time that Robert Paehlke (then in his first year of teaching at Trent University) met Jim White (a Trent student who was active in Pollution Probe Peterborough). The two concocted the idea of a newspaper / magazine hybrid that would turn academic research into tangible community action ideas. In 1971, Paehlke established Alternatives Incorporated, a registered charity, for the sole purpose of publishing Alternatives journal.
The various challenges arising from humanity’s complex relationship with nature call for diverse responses. This fact formed the genesis of the Alternatives vision: a forum in which intellectuals and activists from different fields could exchange ideas with each other and present their stories and research to a general audience. The first volume combined the expertise of political scientists, historians, anthropologists, jurists, economists, psychologists, philosophers, biochemists, zoologists and activists. As global environmental concerns evolved, the range of professionals contributing to the magazine has widened.
For thirteen years, Alternatives journal was run on a shoestring budget by professors and students at Trent University as a volunteer cut-and-paste operation – initially handing out freebies to helpful bookstores in hopes of generating interest. Even with such a humble start, Alternatives soon publishes renowned scholars and activists from Canada and the United States: Walter Pittman, Peter Adams, Peter Victor, Michael Kraft, Amory Lovins, Barry Commoner, David Estrin, Elizabeth May and Naomi Klein.
In 1983, Alternatives journal introduces formal arbitration. This review process ensures the accuracy and credibility of the information, which makes Alternatives journal a coveted publishing location for academics and a cited journal source for college students. In 1984, the newspaper moved to the University of Waterloo, passing editorial supervision to Robert Gibson. In 1995, it became the official journal of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada. In 2015, Alternatives journal has become a proud founding member of the Canadian Colleges and Universities Environmental Network.
Although Alternatives journal has undergone many changes and has grown considerably since its founding, it remains true to its original purpose – to disseminate accurate and well-researched information with the aim of inspiring and empowering affirmative action. Alternatives journal continues to provide reliable information on contemporary environmental discourse and remains a vital part of the environmental community, forging new bonds between academics, activists and professionals.