Environmental Justice and Activism

Monday  1 - 4:15pm

Instructor:        Farley Anne Brown    

Phone: 586-7711 ext. 156      


Course Description:

The growing grassroots movement around environmental injustice has been fueled by concerns of social inequities and has given rise to action.  Many religious communities, civil-rights groups, civics groups, non-profits and governments, to name a few, have responded to these inequities by establishing principles, policies, and legislation addressing the issues of environmental justice.

Why do some people in society carry a disproportionate burden of environmental and land use impacts?  Why have we historically ignored these distributive inequities? Can such maldistributions be corrected or is it symptomatic of inherit human traits?  Is it always the “powerless” in society who are the victims of environmental injustice?

Course Objectives and Topics:

Environmental Justice -

Activism –

Course Structure:

The course will be structured as a seminar, a forum in which students discuss and apply their knowledge and skills in partnership with their peers and faculty.  We will read both historical and contemporary literature addressing issues of injustice,  environmental crisis and issues, and activism.  This structure will provide an opportunity to exchange ideas through weekly discussions of our readings and research.

Required Readings:


Active participation in discussions

50 %

Response Papers

25 %

Research Project


Students bring a variety of learning styles to class.  We will be using a variety of oral, written and technical skills.  If you have a learning problem or documented disability, please check in with Leland Peterson, Sterling College’s Learning Support Coordinator.  Leland can help you determine what accommodations would be helpful for you in this course.  I can meet with you and Leland, or you can simply let me know what you and he decide.

SS271A Course Schedule




September 26  

Course Introduction-

Definitions and language

Models and principles

October 3

Class on Lowell Mountain Camp

Lowell Wind Project information and articles

October 10

History of the Environmental Justice Movement

“History and Issues of the Environmental Justice Movement” Bryant (handout)

“Decision Making” Bullard (reader)

October 17                  

Legal Structure -

Do Trees Have Standing: Legal Rights for Nature?

“Should trees have standing?” Stone (reader)

October 24

Environmental Justice Tactics

If A Tree Falls in the Forest – documentary and ELF

October 31

Steps to Organize: Communities and Tools

Organizing Cools the Planet

November 7

Institutional Communities: UCC

Alan Parker, Unitied Church of Christ Minister

Christianity and Environmental Justice – Nancy Wright

“What is the Environmental Justice Movement?” Environmental Justice Program

November 14

Participatory Community-based activism

The Eight Stages of Successful Social Movements

The New England Grassroots Environmental Fund Story

November 21

Personal Stories of Activism:

Pat O’Neill – Composting Assoc. Of VT

Majora Carter – Sustainable South Bronx

December 4

Taking care of ourselves and each other

Final Project Presentation