Leadership for Environmental Justice

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 15, 2020 - June 26, 20206/15 - 6/26M-F 9A-3POpenDanielle Falzon

Course Description

Hurricane Maria, #NoDAPL protests, Greta Thunberg’s school strikes, fires burning in the Amazon. These seemingly disconnected events highlight some of the most pressing realities of our time. In fact, climate change and environmental injustice are set to define social, political, and economic agendas across the world. Unfortunately, young people have inherited these issues from past generations but with clear understanding of the causes, sustained commitment, and effective action, there is great promise for our global future.

This course will delve into the various manifestations of environmental injustice, with a particular focus on climate injustice. We will explore the causes, consequences, and responses to injustice, rooted in specific real-world cases from historical and current events. The course will begin with an examination of the relationship between society and the environment, including how these spheres came to be considered as two distinct entities. Modes of production driving many of current environmental problems will be explored as additional contributors. Next, we will explore the disparate impacts of environmental. destruction and pollution on marginalized communities, through three harmful practices: resource extraction, toxic contamination, and waste dumping. We will study case examples of each of these practices both in the United States and globally, and will explore how and why each disproportionately affects disenfranchised communities. Additionally, we will consider the inequities of climate change and what, if anything should be done for those countries that will withstand the worst of climate change even though they may have not significantly contributed to it. Finally, we will look at individual and collective responses to environmental and climate challenges as students develop an Action Plan to take back to their home community.

Students will be able to identify the connections between social and environmental injustices, as well as the various ways in which we might imagine justice. Participants will learn to think critically about the environmental issues that they see in the news and in their daily lives. Furthermore, they will be able to connect these issues to social structures and historical conditions of oppression and marginalization. Ultimately, they will leave with a new perspective on the causes and consequences of environmental problems, and the tools educate others about them.

This course will provide a strong foundation in environmental social science and on issues of environmental and social justice. Through these issues, students gain self-insight and global awareness. Students who are interested in environmental studies, public policy, government, community organizing, sociology, and international relations will be particularly interested in this course.

This course is part of the Leadership Institute, a two-week academic program that helps students cultivate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes associated with effective and socially responsible leadership. This unique program consists of three integrated elements: academic content, leadership development, and the Action Plan. Our students are thoughtful and compassionate youth who are interested in social issues and creating positive change. Enrollment in this program requires several hours of online engagement prior to campus arrival. This online participation may be completed at any time where internet access is available. Once on campus, participants can look forward to full days in a community of engaged and curious learners.

Additional programmatic information may be found here.

Prerequisites: This course will not require any prerequisites or background knowledge. Students of all ages and grade levels are welcome.

Instructor Biography

Danielle Falzon is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Brown University. Her research is centered around questions of climate change, environmental and social justice, post-colonialism, international development, and the politics of knowledge and expertise. Her dissertation examines climate change adaptation planning, with a focus on how adaptation occurs in Bangladesh. She is interested in how different actors - from donor agencies, NGOs, research institutions, and government offices - conceptualize and contribute to adaptation planning, and how this shapes the possibilities for transformational adaptation. Danielle has also completed research on how institutional structures impact success and inequality in the UN climate negotiations, and attends the negotiations annually. Prior to coming to Brown, Danielle completed an M.A. in Sociology from Northeastern University, focusing on environmental health and globalization, and she worked as an organizer for energy campaigns at Environmental Massachusetts in Boston. She completed her B.A. in Sociology in 2012 from Vassar College.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEC0926
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

Leadership Institute

Two-week non-credit residential program focused on socially responsible leadership and creating positive change. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2020.

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