Environmental injustice is a problem around the world and takes many forms, resulting from exposures to many different environmental hazards -- including pollution, floods, water scarcity and extreme heat -- that disproportionately impact people already disadvantaged because of race, poverty and political disempowerment. Understanding the many factors that  contribute to environmental injustice is difficult and requires interdisciplinary, comparative, cross-generational perspectives. The goal of the Environmental Governance Research Internship and Certificate Program is to help interns build such perspectives and the research skills needed to understand environmental injustice in different settings. 

 In the Environmental Governance Research Internship and Certificate Program, interns learn to design and carry out research to understand factors contributing to environmental injustice.  They also propose solution pathways and gain experience debating alternatives.  The program is organized in 60-hour units focused on different research themes, methods and critical concepts. Certificates are awarded for successful completion of each unit.  

 Many different factors contribute to environmental problems (social, political, economic, biochemical, technological). This program thus gives participants with different interests (in the social and natural sciences, public health, engineering, urban planning and the humanities) the opportunity to work together in interdisciplinary research teams, leveraging their different skills.

 The Certificate Program’s (60-hour) Summer 2021 Unit will be introductory, introducing an array of research skills and concepts for understanding environmental governance.  Interns will also have the opportunity to attend special sessions through which they can work toward certification in other units in the Program, including units focused on environmental communication, qualitative methods, and controversy analysis.  


The program welcomes high school, undergraduate and graduate students, community members and professionals. 

The Environmental Governance Research Internship and Certificate Program is run by the Environmental Governance Lab at the University of California Irvine.


The 2021 summer session will run June 21-July 30 (6 weeks).  All of the work can be done virtually and much can be done asynchronously. Interns are expected to coordinate work with their research groups and are encouraged to attend dailly (Monday-Thursday) Zoom conferences, 1:00-2:00 pm PT. If it is safe to travel, there will be optional, short field trips in Southern California.


In this program, we do research to produce case studies of environmental injustice in diverse communities around the world. Interns learn to use environmental, health and social data provided by the US EPA and CalEPA, the US Center for Disease Control, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and other organizations. They learn to design qualitative research and about ways different kinds of data can be brought together for holistic understanding. They also learn to work with important concepts -- “social determinants of health,” “historic disadvantage,” “the precautionary principle,” “greenwashing” and “media injustice,” for example. Interns’ case studies can be published online so that they can be useful in efforts to address environmental injustice (see examples produced by UCI students here). Case studies and the skills learned in producing them can also be important additions to resumes.  

We focus on three kinds of environmental disasters -- fast, explosive disasters (that kill quickly), slow disasters like everyday air and water pollution, and combo disasters linked to climate change.  We study how these disasters impact human health, worsen social inequalities and are entangled with systemic racism.  We also study how people have become environmental activists to find and advocate for solutions.

Through collaborative work with other interns, engaging different points of view, interns develop their own political perspectives and learn how ethical values can be translated into action. 

We also do career visioning activities, helping interns imagine roles they can play in environmental health care and governance in the future.  These activities are good preparation for writing personal statements for college and graduate school applications, for job interviews and resume building, and for work in many roles as environmental advocates.


The Environmental Governance Research Internship and Certificate Program is run by UCI’s Environmental Governance (eG) Lab, directed by Professor Kim Fortun. The eG lab brings together researchers and teachers focused on an array of environmental governance challenges, including pollution, chemical security, public lands management, energy transition and environmental justice.   

Summer 2021, the Environmental Governance Research Internship and Certificate Program will be coordinated by Kaitlyn Rabach (krabach@uci.edu).  


The Environmental Governance Research Internship and Certificate Program is run by university researchers for educational, non-profit purposes. While the program is built to be flexible, applicants do need to commit the necessary time (60 hours per unit, with roughly 10-hours per week, ideally synchronized with others in the programs. When participants fail to commit the time or complete the program, it undermines the overall program and disrespects the time of the researchers and mentors running the program).  Participants are also expected to approach Program material and engagements open to diverse perspectives and committed to inclusive public health and prosperity. The program is cost-free.  Space is very limited. Applications reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis.


Apply for the Environmental Governance Research Internship and Certificate Program here, providing short essays explaining your interest in and preparation for the program.  One reference is required and can be submitted here.  Reference can be submitted by a teacher, employer or community member.  

Applications will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis and will be closed when the program is full and by Friday, June 4 at the latest. Acceptance decisions will be announced by Monday, June 7. 

Questions? Contact program coordinator Kaitlyn Rabach, krabach@uci.edu


Kartik Amarnath describes the “oppressive roots of illness” and how work on environmental justice led him to medical school. 

Misbath Daouda, an Environmental Health Sciences Phd student, explains the importance of social science and understanding people’s lives when developing new energy technologies. 

Jan-Michael Archer, an urban studies and green design doctoral student in the University of Maryland’s Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health Laboratory, works on digital mapping tools to help characterize environmental injustice. 

OreOluwa Badaki, a Phd Candidate in Literacy, Culture, and International Education, writes about the importance of working across generations on environmental problems.  

Dr. Jessie Buckley is an environmental and pediatric/perinatal epidemiologist who studies the role of environmental chemical exposures in the development of childhood obesity.  

Dr. Rory Hearne, activist and author of “Housing Shock: The Irish Housing Crisis and How to Solve It,” writes how the global housing and homelessness crisis is linked to the climate crisis

Andrea Partenio, MS in urban planning and sustainability fellow for Bloomberg Associates, has worked in New York CIty and Milan, Italy on equitable and sustainable design projects for these cities.