Spring Semester 2008
Lectures: Thursdays 5:30-7:30 pm 1 Story Street, Rm 304 | Discussion Section: Thursdays - 7:30-8:30, 1 Story Street Rm. 303
Course Instructors: James HoyteJames_Hoyte@Harvard.Edu • 935 Holyoke Center • (O) 495-1548 • (F) 495-8520
& Tim Weiskel, TWeiskel@FAS.harvard.edu

Course Background

This course will examine the interplay of race, socio-economic status, and interest group politics in the formulation and implementation of U.S. federal and state environmental policy. It will involve an interdisciplinary examination of some fundamental environmental problems faced by individuals and communities of color. In particular we will consider the proposition that people of color and socio-economically disadvantaged individuals, whether residing in urban or rural communities, bear a disproportionate burden of environmental pollution and its health consequences. Studies suggesting that people of color have environmental burdens imposed upon them unfairly due to over-siting of industrial plants and landfills in their communities and from exposures to pesticides and other toxic chemicals at home and on the job will be reviewed and analyzed. Consideration will be given to the viewpoint that there exists within the United States, as well as globally, a pattern of environmental inequity, injustice and racism. Furthermore, we will evaluate the contention that underlying this pattern is an historical failure on the part of interest groups, particularly the mainstream environmental movement, to provide a vision and strategy to address environmental racism and injustice.

Key topics to be considered during the semester include racism and social justice, environmental racism, pollution impacts and health effects in communities of color, risk assessment, community responses to environmental threats, pollution in developing nations, indigenous peoples, and climate change. We will review studies and analyses that document environmental injustice. The possible causes for patterns of injustice will be examined and discussed. Considerable attention will be paid to grassroots and community-based efforts to deal with environmental threats. Recent proposals to address the problem of environmental racism and injustice will be discussed and analyzed. Occasionally, community leaders, lawyers, organizers, academics, and government officials will join the class to discuss current issues and problems.

This Course Requires Students to:

  • attend and/or view lectures and study class lecture notes made available in most cases via the Internet. 
  • complete "in-class," "take-home" or "online" short assignments that will be presented occasionally throughout the term;
  • complete Assigned Reading -- and suggested readings, where appropriate. Regularly consult, study and absorb the material listed under Weekly Assignments (ie. Week 1, Week 2, etc.) where appropriate. Class and online discussions will often assume you know about and are familiar with this material.
  •        [N.B. Beyond the works listed below, additional Assigned Reading and handouts may be distributed in class or via the World Wide Web from time to time during the semester. These materials form an integral part of the course, and they are to be read and reflected upon as well as those readings listed below.];
  • complete and submit a Prospectus with an Annotated Bibliography for their Term Research Paper. The deadline for submitting the prospectus is Thursday, 20 March 2008 in class.  Suggestions  on the  prepartion of the research paper and corresponding class presentation will be outlined in the web document:  Guidelines for ENVR-E-145 Prospectus, Term Paper and Class Presentation.
  • prepare and deliver a class presentation covering the issues and perspectives on environmental justice reflected in the term paper.
  • complete and submit a Term Research Paper with supporting Annotated Bibliography on a selected topic concerning environmental justice. To receive a grade in the course, all papers must be received in "hardcopy," printed format on or before Thursday, 1 May 2008  Submission in electronic form of this paper will not be accepted as valid.
        N.B. It is recognized that students from different levels of educational experience may well be taking this course, ranging from undergraduates through graduate and professional school students. All students taking the course will be expected to fulfill the requirements enumerated above, but the assessment of their work will take into account their respective levels of educational experience. The subject for the term research paper should be discussed with the course instructor.

Required Texts
Available at the Harvard Coop

Cole, Luke and Sheila Foster,
2001 From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement. New York: New York University Press
Rechtschaffen, Clifford and Eileen Gauna
 2002  Environmental Justice: Law, Policy and Regulation, Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press
Holt, Thomas C
2002 The Problem of Race in the 21st Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press
Julian Agyeman (Editor), Robert D. Bullard (Editor), Bob Evans (Editor)
Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World (Cambridge, MIT Press, 2003),

Plus readings assigned in each weekly resource page +

The unassigned, required reading, listening & viewing (see left hand column +) to be drawn from: