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Environmental justice means ensuring equal access to environmental benefits and preventing the disproportionate impacts of environmental harms for all communities—regardless of gender, class, race, ethnicity or other social positions. This introductory course examines the rhetoric, history and key case studies of environmental justice while encouraging critical and collaborative thinking, reading and researching about diversity in environmental movements within the global community and at Stanford, including the ways race, class and gender have shaped environmental battles still being fought today—from Standing Rock to Flint, Michigan. We center diverse voices by bringing leaders, particularly from marginalized communities on the frontlines to our classroom to communicate experiences, insights and best practices. Together we will develop original research projects which may serve a particular organizational or community need, such as racialized dispossession, toxic pollution and human health, or indigenous land and water rights, among many others.
This course includes two components. The first class session introduces students to the foundational texts and materials of environmental justice studies and will focus on a different lens each week, although analysis of the rhetoric of social and political systems and institutions and their relationship to race, class and gender will play a central role in each class. Students will engage in discussion of the material and work toward writing their own final research based project that will be a unique contribution to the Environmental Justice conversation. As noted above, the second session of the week will focus on a diverse range of guest speakers (practitioners, scholars, organizers, etc.) with particular expertise in that week’s theme.