Environmental justice as a social movement has grown rapidly since the early 1990s in response to concerns about disproportionate environmental burdens in poor, indigenous and minority communities. Natural Resources and Environment played an early and important role in helping bring national attention to this emerging social and political problem.
In 1990, faculty at the school organized the nation's first academic environmental justice conference to examine the links between race, class and environmental hazards. The conference, Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards: A Time for Discourse, was one of the initiatives instrumental in President Bill Clinton's signing of the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898, which required all federal agencies to design and implement programs to address environmental justice issues.
Broadly construed, the Environmental Justice field of study is concerned with the processes through which inequalities arise from social, political and environmental actions and policies. As an EJ student you will develop a historical understanding of the factors that launched the environmental justice movement in the United States and around the world and study the mechanisms that give rise to class, gender and racial disparities.
You will study affected constituents -- communities, industry, government, environmental activists, policymakers and scholars and learn the causes and consequences of inequitable distributions of environmental benefits and hazards, methods for researching environmental justice issues and strategies for formulating policies in order to achieve a just and sustainable society.
Environmental Justice seeks to help the public and policymakers use scientific information to build sustainable communities world-wide, says Professor Bunyan I. Bryant Jr., coordinator of the Environmental Justice field of study.
What you will study
An interdisciplinary, problem-solving approach is crucial to the understanding of how environmental inequalities arise because environmental problems cross local, regional and national boundaries. The curriculum will develop your research, problem-solving, interpersonal, communication and administrative skills within the context of understanding broad environmental dynamics.
You will examine the historical, scientific, social, legal, cultural and political complexities of the relationship between people and the built and natural environments. You also will study past research and design new methods for studying how race, class and gender affect our environmental experiences, attitudes and perceptions and environmental discourse.
You will devise strategies to promote sustainable communities and participate in efforts to educate policymakers, educators, lawmakers, health professionals, industry leaders and the public about environmental inequalities.
Launching your career
The Environmental Justice field of study enables students to acquire an interdisciplinary perspective on natural resource and environmental issues. You can leverage your knowledge and skills to pursue a career in teaching and research at a college or university, work in governmental policy development and management or advocacy and community organizing with a nonprofit organization.
Graduates work at the Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration as well as state and local environmental agencies, environmental justice organizations and law firms. They also are employed as international environmental journalists. Others hold faculty positions at colleges and universities.
For more information on Environmental Justice, contact email@example.com.
Environmental Justice certificate
The University of Michigan has a long-standing commitment to the academic study of Environmental Justice. It is the site of the first environmental justice curriculum of any major university in the nation. The objectives of the Environmental Justice Certificate are to provide fundamental skills and knowledge; methods and applications of Environmental Justice to enhance the education of students from a wide-range of relevant disciplines at the University of Michigan.Click here to learn more about the EJ certificate program.
Click here to read more on the Environmental Justice companion site.