Rabach, K., T. Schütz and K. Fortun. 2019. Environmental Injustice Fall 2019. Disaster STS Network. University of California Irvine.

Environmental Injustice is a lower-division undergraduate course taught by Prof. Kim Fortun at the University of California Irvine. 

In the course, students analyze environmental disasters, pollution, and the causes and impacts of climate change -- and how these impact human health and worsen social inequalities. They also study how people have become environmental activists to find and advocate for solutions.

The course examines many different factors that contribute to environmental problems (social, political, economic, biochemical, technological). It is designed to give students in different majors (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. Through collaborative work with other students, engaging different points of view, they develop your own environmental and professional ethics. Students also develop research skills that can be used in other courses, independent research and many job settings. 


The case studies are designed around a set of analytic questions:

  1. What is the setting of this case?

  2. What environmental health threats (from worst case scenarios, pollution and climate change) are there in this setting? 

  3. What factors -- social, cultural, political, technological, ecological -- contribute to environmental health vulnerability and injustice in this setting?

  4. Who are the stakeholders, what are their characteristics, and what are their perceptions of the problems?

  5. What have different stakeholder groups done (or not done) in response to the problems in this case? 

  6. How have big media outlets and environmental organizations covered environmental problems related to worse case scenarios in this setting?

  7. What local actions would reduce environmental vulnerability and injustice related to fast disaster in this setting?

  8. What extra-local actions (at state, national or international levels) would reduce environmental vulnerability and injustice related to fast disaster in this setting and similar settings?

  9. What kinds of data and research would be useful in efforts to characterize and address environmental threats in this setting and similar settings?

  10. What, in your view, is ethically wrong or unjust in this case?

Click on images below to see case studies.