The concepts of “environmental racism” and “environmental justice” arose from a specific struggle by a community of African-Americans resisting the siting of a hazardous waste landfill in their community. From its beginnings as an original fusion of environmental and black Civil Rights rhetorics, the concept of environmental racism has continued to grow, expand. It soon embraced the experience of other racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, Native Americans, latinos and others. Expanding the concept further, the “environmental inequalities” perspective came to encompass gender and class dimensions, as well. The concept can be expanded fruitfully in both space and time: Environmental inequalities exist not only in the United States; all over the world, social and environmental inequalities are inseparable facets of a single process. Environmental inequality pervades not only contemporary society; at its very origins, modern society was made possible by acts of combined social and environmental injustices. In this course, we study “environmental inequalities” in this deep, structural sense.
Dr. Andrew Szasz
University of California Santa Cruz