Symposium Information

"Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene"
April 24-25, 2017
Lory Student Center
Colorado State University

Symposium Program

Symposium Goals

Environmental Justice

Environmental justice is a central component of sustainability politics during the Anthropocene – the current geological age when human activity is the dominant influence on climate and environment. Every aspect of sustainability politics requires a close analysis of its equity implications, and environmental justice provides us with the tools to critically investigate the manifestations and impacts of the Anthropocene as well as the debates over its origins and causes. From its origins as a US movement against environmental racism and other inequities in the early 1980s the scope of environmental justice, as a field of research and as a movement, has broadened enormously as shown in the Environmental Justice Atlas and evidenced by many other initiatives around the world. Global EJ activism and research, in fact, is moving beyond demanding equity in the distribution of environmental harms and benefits to a call for the structural transformation of the economy and our relationship with nature as a means to address social, political, economic and environmental crises.

Environmental Justice CSU, the organizer of this symposium, is a global challenges research team sponsored by the School of Global Environmental Sustainability. Like its sponsor, EJ CSU is multidisciplinary and multiscalar and committed to rigorous research and public engagement.

This symposium aims to bring together academics (faculty and graduate students), independent researchers, community and movement activists, and regulatory and policy practitioners from across disciplines, research areas, perspectives, and different countries. Our overarching goal is to build on several decades of EJ research and practice to address the seemingly intractable environmental and ecological problems of this unfolding era. How can we explore EJ amongst humans and between nature and humans, within and across generations, in an age when humans dominate the landscape? How can we better understand collective human dominance without obscuring continuing power differentials and inequities within and between human societies? What institutional and governance innovations can we adopt to address existing challenges and to promote just transitions and futures?

Featured Themes


In recent years, EJ research has enriched the study of an array of environmental issues.  Increasingly, scholars and practitioners of EJ are at the forefront of recognizing that individual environmental issues are inexorably linked. What do we know about EJ with respect to particular environmental issues? In what ways can EJ help us understand dynamics and relations across issue areas and disciplines? How can we infuse transdisciplinary methods more fully into the EJ research agenda? As a citizen science, how can EJ integrate collaborative methods that recognize the role of social movements as creators of knowledge and engage in methodologies that entail a more symmetrical approach to research?


Environmental justice research has also found its way into the study of green transitions and their impact on work and workplaces and across value chains and production networks.  Do the challenges of the Anthropocene justify any green initiative, at the expense of workers and communities, or do the challenges of the era require more just and democratic governance? How should unions, communities and those most vulnerable respond in the absence of a policy of just transition? How can we ensure that the workplaces and the communities engendered by green transitions are both green and just?  How and at what scale should we confront this challenge? In what ways can insights from related investigations, such as those of rights, democracy and governance enrich our understanding of just transitions?


Environmental justice can also inform how production and consumption can be reorganized to address the challenges of the Anthropocene in a socio-ecologically just manner. The transformative vision of EJ can be productively informed by indigenous cosmovisions and decolonial scholarship, as well as heterodox approaches such as ecological economics. Is growth an inexorable necessity for achieving social and environmental justice or should we engage more deeply alternative visions of political economy, political ecology and governance? How can we better communicate about just futures with students and practitioners with diverse backgrounds and priorities? What are some of the visions, policy proposals and transformative remedies emerging from those struggling for EJ that can help reshape the political-economic structure behind injustices?

Presentation Format and Paper Process

There are two types of sessions: paper sessions and roundtables. Each session will be coordinated by a chair (assigned by us or the proposers). Each paper presenter will have 15 minutes for paper presentation. Roundtable presenters will have 10-15 minutes (depending on the number of presenters). In both cases we intend to reserve 30 minutes for discussion. Powerpoints and visuals may be used but please notify us in advance to make sure applications are compatible.

Papers will be submitted to before April 14, 2017. And should be up to 7,500 words, including references. Formatting can be chosen by presenters but please make sure it is consistent throughout the paper.  Please submit in PDF.

Symposium Format

Both Monday and Tuesday of the symposium will run from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm with presentations throughout the day. There will be coffee/tea breaks in the morning and the afternoon as well as for lunch and for dinner. In exceptional cases, if a participant has a flight scheduled for Tuesday night, which would require them to leave early, please let us know so we can program accordingly. Our hope, however, is that all will be here through both days.


There are no registration fees. However, we will ask presenters to formally register in order to better plan for the Symposium.

Additional Events

For participants arriving on Sunday, April 23: There will be an informal event planned on Sunday evening. If you will be here and are interested in being notified of these plans, please contact EJ CSU Program Coordinator Katie Powlen using the EJ CSU email. Additional events are likely to be planned and we will inform you in a timely fashion.

Local Committee

Principal Investigators:

Dr. Neil Grigg
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Affiliation: College of Engineering

Dr. Melinda Laituri
Department: Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
Affiliation: Warner College of Natural Resources

Dr. Stephanie Malin
Department: Sociology
Affiliation: College of Liberal Arts

Stacia Ryder
Department: Sociology
Affiliation: College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Dimitiris Stevis
Department: Political Science
Affiliation: College of Liberal Arts

Other Affiliates:

Megan DeMasters
Department: Political Science
Affiliation: College of Liberal Arts

Katie Powlen
Department: Human Dimension of Natural Resources
Affiliation: Warner College of Natural Resources

Sponsors & Cosponsors


  • School of Global Environmental Sustainability, CSU
  • Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change
  • College of Liberal Arts, CSU
  • Office of International Programs, CSU
  • Office of the Vice President for Research, CSU
  • Partnership for Air Quality, Climate & Health (PACH)


  • Acknowl-EJ
  • Department of Policitical Science, CSU
  • Department of Sociology, CSU
  • EnvJustice
  • Future Earth
  • The Water Center
  • TILT
  • Warner College of Natural Resources