This class gives you an introduction to the field of environmental justice. We will begin with fundamentals of Rawlsian justice and touching on theories of situatedness and privilege. Students will develop an understanding of why environmental justice is a critical and controversial topic, as well as understanding the history of the concept and the movements it relates to. Both domestic and international aspects of environmental justice will be considered. Once students have had a solid grounding in the theory of environmental justice, cases will be examined such as: cities and their role in the cause of environmental justice, prisons, black lives matter, indigenous peoples, climate change, and the ongoing crisis in Flint, Michigan.
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
- Explain why environmental justice is important
- Understand how the idea of environmental justice has changed and developed over the past three deacades
- Apply theoretical ideas of environmental justice (including privilege, distribution, and process) to case studies
- Understand their own self-selected case studies and explain their importance to both the class and the instructor
- Write critically and thoughtfully on a range of academic perspectives around the idea of environmental justice
- Recognize the tension between environmental justice as an academic idea and a social movement