Climate Curriculum Development

Confronting Environmental Racism Class

Project Overview:

Racism is at the core of how science is performed and practiced, and also in the ways and means it informs policy and decision-making at different scales. This environmental racism course is focused on the historical intersections of science, policy, technology, and societal values that have influenced environmental decision-making and in turn given rise to racist and inequitable outcomes within the narrative of “environmentalism.”

This ENVS course addresses the core question of “How did we get here?” by studying social, economic, cultural, and political structures (such as colonialism, imperialism, segregation, apartheid, eugenics, patriarchy, etc.) that have framed and defined environmental and development outcomes in the US and globally. Students will be able to learn how to use critical tools, frameworks, and analytics to deeply reflect on and practice a just and equitable environmental science.

Class discussions, activities, and assignments will help students identify racist situations, stances, and rhetoric within the environmental discourses. Students will be able to engage with guest speakers in anti-racist development-environment practice, activism, policymaking, and/or community organizing. Students will also develop skills to identify racist practices in environmental decisions and policymaking, and engage in anti-racist action both within academic and non-academic contexts.

Poster_Environmental Racism Course

Impact: Education and awareness are essential to bringing about change. This course is designed to enable students to learn skills that will be impactful in climate action, while also ensuring that climate action is anti-racist, equitable, and just, by making them aware of racist situations within the environmental and climate sector.  


Action Needed:  In order to ensure that voices from all groups and communities are taken into consideration during this course, the team is putting together a list of guest speakers that work within both academia, industry, as well as grassroots organizations, to share their experiences with students. The goal is to offer this environmental racism course every semester, which will need continuous funding support.