2012-2013 Theme: Environmental Justice and Global Health

People who are directly impacted by the effects of environmental degradation are often found at the frontline of thought and action to prevent further compromise of the places that they live, work, and play.  These same people have also generally been disadvantaged socially, politically, and economically.  That those who are least well-situated to combat environmental degradation are forced to do just that has lead to an understanding of “environmental injustice” as a global problem in which poor, rural people, people of color, and other marginalized communities are disproportionately burdened by environmental destruction, exposure to pollution, and lack of access to adequate nutrition and clean water.  Communities that are vulnerable to the impacts of environmental problems are often socially and politically disenfranchised so don’t participate in decision making that directly affects the health and well-being of their families and communities, and are economical unable to directly change outcomes. 

Despite growing awareness of the problems of environmental injustice and related impacts on health and sustainability, many communities across the globe continue to be vulnerable or are being put at risk in new ways.   This year's CoE think tank will use our interdisciplinary strengths and practical experience to seek to tackle these complex issues.  Using complementary, yet distinct, disciplinary approaches to examine the connection between environmental justice and global health, we will explore case studies that span the globe (including mountain top removal in Appalachia; environmental activism in East Asia; the struggle for food justice in the US; and the plight of island communities in the face of global climate change).