The global environmental justice movement is “inspired by activists, artists, teachers, and scholars,” and is defined as “the right of all people to share equally in the benefits of a healthy environment” (Adamson et al). This seminar will consider environmental justice as a social movement, and explore the interconnected meanings of green, sustainability and environment. We’ll read literature produced in the wake of community disaster, such as: Robert Dugoni’s The Cyanide Canary, about the cyanide poisoning of workers in Idaho; Joe Kane’s Savages, recounting the Ecuadorian Indians’ fight to keep oil companies out of their rainforest; Michael Shnayerson’s Coal River, that tells the story of West Virginia communities’ efforts against mountain top removal in their backyards, and we’ll learn about the trial of WR Grace, who used asbestos to line the high school track in Libby, Montana.
Through these cases and others, we’ll critique the public policy debates at the forefront of issues of environmental justice: access to clean drinking water, hazardous industrial waste, superfund sites and incinerators in the poorest neighborhoods. This class will highlight the latest films from the nation’s Environmental Film Festival and cutting edge analysis from newsmakers. We’ll host guest speakers from government, community groups, non-profit organizations, and film makers.
Weekly written responses and one seminar paper are required.