Resource Rebels: Environmental Justice Movements Building Hope
Fall 2015 and Winter 2016 quarters
“The only way to build hope is through the Earth.” – Vandana Shiva
Environmental Justice (EJ) links together environmental protection and social justice. EJ addresses inequalities between racial and ethnic groups, social classes, genders, and “North” and “South” world regions, and the ways peoples and environments are harmed by capitalist industrialization and Western colonization. Here in the Pacific Northwest, environmental justice issues come into sharp focus as local tribes work to block coal and oil train terminals, and move their communities away from volatile coastal areas in the face of climate change. This program will offer direct opportunities to collaborate with local tribes and others in the area to learn about and respond to impending climate justice concerns.
Environmental Justice has provided a framework for growing movements of ecologically minded citizens, Indigenous nations, and others --who 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, fossil fuels), or what Naomi Klein terms “extractivism,” and the industrial and military projects that harm local communities.
In the 21st century, environmental justice work has expanded to encompass climate justice. Strengthening collaborative resilience through sustainable methods to procure food, water, and energy and resisting the fossil fuel industry helps to mitigate effects of greenhouse gases and to adapt to the effects of climate change. Key aspects of resilience 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. Students will embark on collaborative research projects with local tribes and others in the area.
In both fall and winter quarters, 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. Skills also include ways of reflecting on our connections to ourselves, each other, and the Earth. The final project will include continuing to develop 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.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day