ENV 631a () / 2023-2024

Poverty, Environment and Inequality

Credits: 3
Fall 2023: Tu, 1:00-3:50, Kroon G01

This course explores the relationship between poverty, environment and social inequality.  It examines how race and class interact in American rural and urban environments to produce or sustain inequalities.  The course examines how structural factors and community characteristics influence environmental outcomes.  Students will begin by examining the relationship between degraded environments and poor schooling.  They will examine the environmental hazards that exist in or adjacent to urban and rural public schools.  Students will analyze inner-city and poor rural communities as they examine disinvestment, the concentration of poverty, efforts to disperse the poor, and the potential for community revitalization.  The class will examine homelessness and the ways in which climate disasters impact housing experiences.  The course also examines another aspect of poverty – the issue of food security; it looks at the rise in community gardening in poor communities as an attempt to combat lack of access to healthy food.  
Students will examine residential segregation and zoning.  The class will also study the spatial inequalities that arise from the siting of hazardous facilities in minority and low-income urban and rural communities.  The course examines the classic environmental justice question – which came first the facilities or the people?  It examines economic questions related to costs of hosting noxious facilities and if and how communities can seek compensation to host such facilities.  The course also examines the quandary communities face when presented with economic models that seek to provide compensation – the question of the long-term health of the people and environment take center stage as community residents seek to determine how to balance economic development with concerns about sustainability.  Students will analyze water, energy, and climate justice.