MEST 317X: Exploring Environmental (In)Justice

Introduction to the class: environmental-justice-syllabus 

Class meets Thursdays, 2.30 to 5 pm, Building 37 – mid-level conference room

The class is open to any one, at any time. Please let me know if you’re interested in attending a class.


Important websites for you to refer to regularly:


First block Readings:

Week 1: Environmental Justice Principles:

  • Defining environmental justice. Introduction. From the book: Defining Environmental Justice: Theories, Movements, and Nature. By David Schlosberg.  Publication date: 2007. Document can be downloaded here: defining-environmental-justice

Week 2: Deeper examination of environmental justice principles:

  • Power, Justice and the Environment: Toward Critical Environmental Justice Studies. By David Naguib Pellow and Robert J. Brulle.  Paper can be downloaded here: 9780262661935_sch_0001

Weeks 3 and 4: Urban environmental justice 

  • Global Change and the Ecology of Cities. Nancy B. Grimm, et al. Science 319, 756 (2008); DOI: 10.1126/science.1150195] – can be downloaded here – grimm_etal_science_2008
  • Concepts for studying urban environmental justice. Jason Corburn.  2017. J. Curr Envir Health Rpt.2017). doi:10.1007/s40572-017-0123-6 (6 pages) – can be downloaded here – concepts-for-studying-urban-ej

Optional reading: Developing ‘infrastructure’ – Dec 08, 2016 by   – Accessed here:  

Optional reading: Urban-rural exploitation: An underappreciated dimension of environmental injustice. K. Kelly-Reif, S. Wing / Journal of Rural Studies 47 (2016) 350e358 urban-rural-exploitation-an-underappreciated-dimension-of-environmental-injustice

Optional reading:  Urban green space, public health, and environmental justice: The challenge of making cities ‘just green enough’ J.R. Wolch et al. / Landscape and Urban Planning 125 (2014) 234- 244 It can be accessed here – and downloaded here – urban-green-space-public-health-and-environmental-justice-copy

Optional reading: Rethinking urban metabolism: Water, space and the modern city. Matthew Gandy. City. Vol 8: No 3. December 2004. (17 pages).  Can be downloaded here — rethinking-urban-metabolism-gandy71-copy

Urban environmental justice in Lebanon: 

Additional reading on urban environmental justice, to be read before our guest lecturer meets with us on March 9, 2.30 – 5pm.

  • New Globalism, New Urbanism: Gentrification as Global Urban Strategy.  2002. Neil Smith. Antipode: A radical journal of geography. 34: 427–450. doi:10.1111/1467-8330.00249.  Article can be downloaded here — 05-smith-new-globalism-new-urbanism-gentrification
  • Do read all the mandatory readings listed previously, and pay particular attention to the readings specific to Lebanon and to the paper on ‘Global Change and the Ecology of Cities’
  • Please also note the articles posted on the main page of this website – namely the articles on sand mining

Please note that the Walking Tour of Beirut and the Sunday Market, led by Jana Nakhal, will be on Sunday March 12, from 10.30 am to 3.00 pm.

Weeks  5 and 6: Power Analysis and Transformative Change

  •  Class meets on Saturday March 18 (2.30 – 5.00) for power analysis discussion
  • Class meets on Thursday March 23 (2.30 – 5.00) for continuing discussion on power analysis, using examples from the Environmental Justice Atlas ( Please have the memos from the previous reading completed.

Week 7: Environmental Justice Movement

  • Third World Environmental Justice. Richard Schroeder , Kevin St. Martin , Bradley Wilson & Debarati Sen. (2008) Society & Natural Resources, 21:7, 547-555, DOI: 10.1080/08941920802100721. Article can be accessed here or downloaded here: 3-22-2017_Third Worl






— Leading class discussion: 15% – choose a date and topic (20 minute class presentation and then discussion)

  • Choose a date, between March 30 and May 4, and then schedule an appointment with me to discuss topic and presentation
  • You will provide a summary of the main ideas of the text, list and define key terms, present explanation of scientific information listed and most importantly, come with a plan to facilitate the class including a series of ‘discuss-able’ questions. You are also encouraged to bring in background materials on the topic, including music, photos, videos, etc. You are required to meet with me prior to class to discuss the material and possible formats for the presentation. You will get an ‘A’ on the discussion, if you: – briefly but thoroughly summarize the key concepts and arguments of the assigned readings for that week – draw connections between the current readings, course themes, and other readings/aspects – effectively facilitate the participation of everyone in class – incorporate questions from class members – show preparation and creativity in the presentation, and add your own insight to the reading

— Researching and writing a case story: 22%

  • By March 30: Choose an environmental injustice story – or an environmental justice story (i.e. one with or without mobilization) – to cover in any Arab country, and explain, in one paragraph, why you chose that story. Identify individuals or organizations to interview – 5%
  • By April 13: Draft case story due – 7%
  • By April 20: Final case story due – 10%

Note: Catherine Moughalian can assist you with the case study.  (

— Research Paper – 45%

  • By April 6: Identify issue to be researched, can either be solely within the Arab region, or can reach across the region into non-Arab countries. Use the EJ Atlas as a data source for your research.  Submit a two-paragraph paper explaining what will be researched / investigated. Tackle and research an issue of interest to you – such as the source of the conflict (example, a particular company or form of governmental policy), the form of resistance, or the potential for transformative change.  – 5%
  • By April 13: Outline due
  • By April 27: Draft research paper due -15%
  • By May 11: Final research paper due – 20%
  • May 11: Presentation of research in class- 5%

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