Atypical for environmental grantmakers, the Foundation for Deep Ecology has consistently directed a portion of its philanthropy to helping build the intellectual infrastructure of the conservation movement. This type of idea incubation is a longstanding strategy of the political right in America, where a host of foundations and think tanks support free-market and libertarian capitalism and a corporatist policy agenda. On the political left, such investments have been spotty, and within the environmental movement, there has been very little institutional funding for journals, think tanks, and symposia that could help build a deeper, more effective response to the plunder of the Earth by challenging the fundamental ideas and worldview of the despoilers.
Since its inception the foundation has invested in a wide variety of such efforts, supporting numerous journals (Wild Earth, Resurgence, Plain, and AdBusters to name a few), books (The Case Against the Global Economy, Deep Ecology for the 21st Century, Turning Away from Technology), conferences and symposia, and advertising campaigns. FDE-sponsored gatherings of leading thinkers led to the formation of several independent organizations including the International Forum on Globalization, the Jacque Ellul Society, and the Wildlands Project. The foundation has also operated an innovative book publishing program that has produced numerous award-winning titles on conservation issues; in several cases these books were the centerpiece of educational campaigns on pressing issues, from industrial forestry and agriculture to mountaintop-removal coal mining.