Julie Sze and Jonathan London
Environmental justice; environmental racism; urban; planning; public health; law; ethnic studies; public policy; social movements; environmental and social inequalities.
Over the last 25 years, the environmental justice movement has emerged from its earliest focus on US social movements combating environmental racism to an influential global phenomenon. Environmental justice research has also undergone spectacular growth and diffusion in the last two decades. From its earliest roots in sociology, the field is now firmly entrenched in several different academic disciplines including geography, urban planning, public health, law, ethnic studies, and public policy. Environmental justice refers simultaneously to a vibrant and growing academic research field, a system of social movements aimed at addressing various environmental and social inequalities, and public policies crafted to ameliorate conditions of environmental and social injustice. Academia is responding to this social problem by offering courses under various rubrics, such as ‘Race, Poverty and the Environment, Environmental Racism, Environmental Justice’, ‘Urban Planning, Public Health And Environmental Justice’, and so on. Courses on environmental justice offer students opportunities to critically and reflexively explore issues of race and racism, social inequality, social movements, public/environmental health, public policy and law, and intersections of science and policy. Integrating modules on environmental justice can help professors engage students in action research, service learning, and more broadly, critical pedagogy.
This article offers an overview of the current state of the field and offers a range of resources for teaching concepts of environmental racism, inequality and injustice in the classroom.
(2009) 3(6) Sociology Compass, 1022-1028.