Environmental Justice Working Group

Mission Statement:

Our main goal is to create space for engaged interdisciplinary scholarship, training and teaching, and community-building around issues of environmental injustice. We aim to make Colorado State University (CSU) a central global node for environmental justice in the US American West. We work to build a rich and collaborative community of scholars, practitioners, non-profit partners, and community members passionate about building a better society, where all people can feel safe and healthy where they live, work, and play and where our socio-economic systems serve and sustain our planet.


The Environmental Justice Working Group began as a SoGES Global Challenge Research Team in 2014 and was established as a SoGES Working Group in 2017. We are a multidisciplinary group of engaged scholars and practitioners concerned with examining the drivers of and solutions to environmental inequity and injustice. We create academic and public spaces for discussing and examining environmental justice issues, particularly through the lens of the six focal areas of SoGES (and beyond). Our organizational aim is to bridge individuals and organizations engaged in environmental justice research and teaching across disciplines, between academics and activists, locally, regionally, and globally. We do this by encouraging engaged and policy-relevant research, often showcased via carefully crafted events that highlight promising EJ work being conducted at CSU, in the wider Fort Collins community, in the U.S., and globally. By creating these spaces for community-based research and engagement, the Environmental Justice Working Group aims to make CSU a model campus for EJ, where we display how to help people across departments and research areas find common ground for future interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration and community-based work.

What is EJ?

Environmental Justice is the view that all people deserve a healthy and safe environment in which to live, work, and play – regardless of their race/ethnicity, their class status, their age, their gender, their citizenship, and other social variables. Hundreds of studies have established that environmental injustice is a persistent and systemic problem around the world, where “ethnic minorities, indigenous persons, people of color, and low-income communities confront a higher burden of environmental exposure from air, water, and soil pollution from industrialization, militarization, and consumer practices.” (Mohai, Pellow, and Roberts 2009:406). Environmental justice researchers and practitioners focus on building more equitable, safe, and sustainable systems that will create more environmental equity. Importantly, biodiversity and ecological well-being are increasingly vital parts of environmental justice.

Aspects of environmental justice include: Distributive justice (equitable exposures to environmental risks and hazards as well as benefits); procedural equity (opportunities for meaningful participation in decision-making for all stakeholders); recognition justice (recognizing the value and rights of various groups, such as tribal populations and ecosystems themselves); and restorative justice (working to restore ecological systems and human communities).

Working Group Leaders:

Neil Grigg – Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University

Melinda Laituri – Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Colorado State University

Stephanie Malin – Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University

Josh Sbicca – Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University

Dimitris Stevis – Professor, Department of Political Science, Colorado State University

Kathryn Powlen – Graduate Student, Human Dimensions of Natural Resource, Colorado State University

Stacia Ryder – PhD candidate, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University

EJWG at a Glance:

  • Consists of over 150 members from academic and practitioner/community organizations
  • Incorporate EJ into over 12 courses taught by our organizations leaders
  • Hosted over 300 attendees for Spring 2016 ‘EJ in the Anthropocene’ Symposium
    • Invited book proposal based on ‘EJ in the Anthropocene’ Symposium
  • Hosted 8 Environmental justice (EJ) roundtables: Energy Justice; Food Justice; Climate Justice; Health Justice; Just Biodiversity; Water Justice; Built Environment Justice; Governance Justice
    • Authored Environmental Justice Roundtable Briefs (white papers) on each event
  • Co-hosted  Fall 2017 ‘Stories of Water Equity and Environmental Justice’ Symposium with  CSU Water Center
  • Co-sponsored Spring 2015 Front Range Environmental Governance Workshop with the Environmental Governance Working Group
  • Hosted or co-hosted 14 invited speakers (2014-present)
  • Hosted 6 Java & Justice Graduate Seminars (2015-present)

Getting Involved: To find out more about our organization, please visit us at: http://environmentaljustice.colostate.edu/. For any questions or to contact us regarding co-sponsoring any events, please email us at: environmentaljusticecsu@gmail.com 


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