Resource Rebels: Environmental Justice Movements Building Hope

Fall 2015 and Winter 2016 quarters

Taught by

geography, Native American studies

“The only way to build hope is through the Earth.” – Vandana Shiva

Environmental justice makes connections between environmental protection and social justice. This includes addressing inequalities between racial and ethnic groups, social classes, genders, and “North” and “South” world regions widened by capitalist industrialization and Western colonization. Since the 1970s, environmental justice has provided a framework for growing movements of ecologically minded citizens, Indigenous nations, and other land-based peoples (which Al Gedicks calls “resource rebels”) in North America and around the world. These social movements have taken stands against the cultural and economic systems based on resource extraction (of minerals, freshwater, hydropower, etc.), or what Naomi Klein terms “extractivism,” and the industrial production and military projects that harm local communities.

In the 21st century, their work has expanded to encompass climate justice, including mitigation of greenhouse gases by resisting the fossil fuel industry and adaptation to the effects of climate change through strengthening collaborative resilience through sustainable methods to procure food, water, and energy. Key aspects of resilience also include building alliances across cultural and economic divides, and revitalizing Indigenous cultures that provide alternate models through “recovering the sacred,” in the words of Winona LaDuke.

In fall quarter, this program will briefly review environmental problems and policies, but more deeply focus on what organized local communities are doing to respond to these problems, using their local and regional “sense of place,” and organizing regional, national, and global networks to change the policies. Our fall inquiry will examine movements in North America and around the world through the lenses of geography, anthropology, social theory, sustainability studies, and Native studies, and immerse students in the work of these movements through lectures, readings, films, guest speakers, field trips, and sited research projects.

In winter quarter, we will examine resilience strategies at the local and regional scale and develop grassroots social movement skills. These skills include devising public relations and media strategies; presenting information through popular education; using effective and accessible language and imagery; writing press releases, testimony, and grant proposals; facilitating meetings; cross-cultural training; using social media and multimedia; organizing rallies and funding events; and building alliances among communities and coalitions between organizations. The final project will involve developing collaborative relationships with community-based organizations, conducting ethnographic research, and using the research and social movement skills set to make an impact on a particular environmental justice issue.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

environmental work; cultural and natural resource management; sustainability planning; community organizing, nonprofit management, communication, and public relations; cross-cultural and international citizens' diplomacy; and Indigenous advocacy.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$100 per quarter for overnight field trips.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 10188

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Accepting New Students

Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 20095

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