Teaching Anti-Racism Through Environmental Justice Studies

  • David N. PellowEmail author


Environmental racism has made headlines during the last three decades, in large part because the movement for environmental justice has placed this issue on the public agenda. In this chapter, I consider the ways in which discourses and practices of institutional racism are complicated and deepened by teaching environmental racism. I explore this topic by considering the pedagogical approach I adopt for a course I teach on the subject. Following other scholars in this volume (e.g., Cazenave), I do not debate whether environmental racism actually exists. Rather, I begin from the understanding that this phenomenon is real because it is socially present and expressed in the lives and struggles of millions of people around the nation and globally. I then demonstrate how I urge students to examine and interrogate the assumptions and implications behind the social scientific studies of environmental racism and the efforts by governments, residents, workers, and community activists to combat it. Throughout the course, I guide students as we consider ideas and practices that may lead to (1) a more equitable social distribution of the costs and benefits of markets and (2) more ecologically sustainable forms of production and social organization. Finally, in course readings, lectures, and exercises, we pay close attention to the ways in which the concepts of race and “nature” intersect with gender, class, citizenship, indigeneity, and nation in order to better understand how systems of power and inequality are constructed, reinforced, and challenged.


Social Category Environmental Justice Critical Race Theory Ethnic Study Institutional Racism 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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