Critical Conversations: Environmental Justice

CSREA - Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America
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Critical Conversations, one of CSREA’s signature discussion series, invites scholars to explore a central topic through the lens of race.

This event gathers scholars of environmental justice to discuss the uneven burdens presented by climate change, linkages between race and urban policy, and how communities are resisting the effects of extractive capitalism.



Myles Lennon is an environmental anthropologist, Dean’s Assistant Professor of Environment & Society and Anthropology at Brown University, and a former sustainable energy policy practitioner. His first research project explores the intersectional dimensions of solar infrastructure in New York City, illuminating the sensorial and emotional power of renewable energy in a gentrifying skyline built on racial capitalism and threatened by climate collapse. He is currently conducting long-term research on young, Black land stewards’ complex efforts to navigate settler colonialism and redress white supremacy through land-based labor in the United States. His research has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

Gerald Torres is Professor of Environmental Justice at the Yale School of the Environment, with a secondary appointment as Professor of Law at the Law School. A pioneer in the field of environmental law, Torres has spent his career examining the intrinsic connections between the environment, agricultural and food systems, and social justice. His research into how race and ethnicity impact environmental policy has been influential in the emergence and evolution of the field of environmental justice. His work also includes the study of conflicts over resource management between Native American tribes, states, and the federal government.

Gwendolyn Purifoye is Assistant Professor of Racial Justice and Conflict Transformation in the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. As an urban scholar and ethnographer, her research investigates how material infrastructures, transportation systems, and public spaces shape the experiences of minoritized and marginalized individuals and communities. Purifoye has spent several years conducting extensive fieldwork in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Newark where she examines the lived experiences of Black and Brown folks in public places and neighborhoods. Her first book, Race in Motion: Public Transportation and Restricted Mobile Spaces (under contract with NYU Press) uses ethnographic and archival data to examine how public transportation is used to support persistent inequalities and inequities that are racialized, spatialized, materialized, and embodied. Purifoye collaborates with community organizations and equity networks in Chicago on efforts to increase transit and spatial equity in the city. She also served on a Regional Transit Agency’s (RTA) Strategic Planning working group and is currently a researcher and advisory board member for the City of Chicago’s UN Women Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces project.

Elizabeth Rush is Assistant Professor of the Practice of English, IBES Fellow at Brown University. She is also the author of The Quickening: Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth and Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Rush’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications from the New York Times to Orion and Guernica. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Howard Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation and the Metcalf Institute.


Register to attend at this link.