The Faculty Journal series features commissioned opinion and commentary pieces by the Hunter College community on Public Policy and Human Rights topics.

(The writing and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute or Hunter College.)

Borrowing from social movement theories, the concept of environmental justice was developed in the early 1980s and 1990s along with market-based paradigms, justice-framing, and ground-up rebuilding plans. Recent scholarship defines environmental justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. In the wake of climate disasters, such as the September 2017 earthquake in Mexico and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, terms such as “disaster capitalism” are also increasingly coming to the fore in debates on sustainability and climate change.

The current Roosevelt House Faculty Journal series on Environmental Justice aims to address the historical, social, political and economic contexts in the United States today by reframing questions concerning identity politics (race, class, and gender) in the environmental justice movement, identifying key stakeholders in the “mainstream environmental movement,” analyzing the relationship between science and society, and placing the 3Ps (people, planet, profit) within a larger narrative of policymaking, and pedagogy.

In doing so, we hope to:

  1. Surface new narratives for environmental justice;
  2. Analyze the politics of leadership within environmental justice movements;
  3. Shed light on the strategies for resistance to environmental racism, toxic dumping, water, land and air pollution;
  4. Elaborate on the role of the scientific community in environmental justice movements;
  5. Consider some innovative tools that faculty and students can use to collect data and research climate change that draw on the multiple intersections of the issue.

Roosevelt House asked experts from Hunter College to provide commentaries on what they view as the primary issues, challenges, and opportunities in the field of Environmental Justice.

The accompanying artwork for this series is by Madhini Nirmal, who was born and raised in Chennai, India. Madhini is currently an MFA student in Studio Art at Hunter College. Her monotypes and drawings are predominantly inspired by ecological ideas.