Environmental Justice: Where racism, climate and COVID meet Events and opportunities throughout the year that encourage dialogue, understanding, and informed, compassionate action related to ensuring environmental justice (EJ) for all and ending the pandemic of racism.

Black and Indigenous people, people of color, minorities, and poor communities are disproportionately impacted by the relentless challenges related to systemic racism, the COVID-19 pandemic, pollution burdens and climate change. Join the Penn State community this year as we talk and learn together about the barriers to, and solutions for ensuring Environmental Justice (EJ) for all.

Penn State's Environmental Justice Year

On Thursday and Friday, April 1-2, 2021, Dr. Robert J. Bullard, the 'Father of the Environmental Justice Movement' spoke virtually at Penn State and met with student, faculty, and community leaders to discuss how Penn State can advance EJ in our communities.

Dr. Robert J. Bullard
"Environmental Justice is the principle that all people are entitled to equal environmental protection regardless of race, color or national origin. It’s the right to live and work and play in a clean environment." - Dr. Robert J. Bullard, 'Father of Environmental Justice'

Leading up to Dr. Bullard's presentation, partners across Penn State and surrounding communities hosted events and programming connected to Environmental Justice (EJ). All events were free and open to everyone.

The colloquium was co-sponsored by Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Office of Human Resources, Office of Educational Equity, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Sustainability Institute. (PLEASE NOTE: per Dr. Bullard's request his talks were NOT recorded.)

2020-2021 Environmental Justice Programming

All opportunities are free, and open to all.

Through May 9 | When the Bough Breaks Exhibition organized by Susanne Slavick. When the Bough Breaks will be installed in Art Alley January 16 through May 9, 2021. Despite our history of decimating vast tracts of forests, often in the name of civilization, trees remain indifferent to our existence. They continue offering shade, shelter, sustenance and survival. They long precede the human race and will ultimately succeed us, despite our alternating negligence and reverence. Facing ongoing human conflict and impending climate catastrophe, the reality or representation of trees can offer solace and space—for the necessity of talking and listening. The works of these artists and accompanying poets embrace the tree — materially and conceptually— through figure and metaphor, analysis and allegory, and as record and reflection. Works by: Patricia Bellan-Gillen, Denise Burge, Zoë Charlton, Ellen Harvey, Alex Lukas, Clayton Merrell, Sarah Slavick, and Susanne Slavick. This exhibition was supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. studentaffairs.psu.edu/hub/art-galleries.

Weekly starting April 8 | 7:00-8:30 p.m. on Zoom. Shaver's Creek Book Club reading Carolyn Finney's Black Faces, White Spaces. Carolyn Finney's acclaimed work dives deep into the under-representation of African Americans in nature, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism through the lenses of environmental history, studies on race and culture, and geography. Dr. Finney will join the final meeting of the book club on April 29. Presented by Shaver's Creek and Webster's Bookstore. Free and open to the public. Registration required.

To add an event to the calendar, email sustainability@psu.edu

Anytime Offerings

These webinars, podcasts, films and resources are available to anyone at anytime

2021 Centre County Reads: THE ADDRESS BOOK. In this wide-ranging and remarkable book, Deirdre Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, and how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany. The flipside of having an address is not having one, and we also see what that means for millions of people today, including those who live in the slums of Kolkata and on the streets of London. Filled with fascinating people and histories, The Address Book illuminates the complex and sometimes hidden stories behind street names and their power to name, to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn’t—and why. https://www.centrecountyreads.org/

Panel Discussion: Race, COVID-19 & Inequality. Join on ZOOM for a panel discussion with Penn State Brandywine and Penn State Abington staff and faculty members exploring the inequities of COVID-19 and race. Recording available: https://engage.bw.psu.edu/mlk-day/

Ibram X. Kendi, "How to be an Anti-Racist" talk, sponsored by College of Earth and Mineral Sciences recording is available at www.watch.psu.edu/kendi (Penn State login required).

The Education College Dean's Equity Forum presentation by Dr. Mildred Boveda recording can be accessed here. Dr. Boveda's talk on "Developing Intersectional Competence: Are General and Special Education Preservice Teachers Prepared to Respond to Multiple Differences?" was the first in the series for The College of Education.

Racism in the Value Chain of Food and Agriculture, a recorded webinar that explores historical and current inequalities in starting up a food or beverage-based business. Panelists will speak on their experiences in being a BIPOC owner and working, marketing, and selling within industries that are historically white-owned. Hosted by Penn State Extension. Access here.

Held October 15, 2020: Pride in Our Community Pep Rally showcased PSU students' culture through performances and an overall showcase of pride in our community of color at Penn State. Access recordings via Facebook live.

Author Spotlight: An Evening with Elizabeth Rush. Acclaimed author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Rush made a virtual visit to the Centre Region on Oct. 21, presented in collaboration with The Sustainability Institute at Penn State and the Schlow Library Foundation. Access her talk, "On Rising Together, Creative and Collective Responses to Climate Change" here.

Take Note Podcast from WPSU: Robert Bullard On The Critical Role of Environmental Justice. Access here

Sustainability Showcase recordings, including ​Justice-Centered Science Pedagogy: Teaching Towards Sustainable Futures; Climate Change: An Ecological and Health Equity Crisis; Food Justice is More than Growing Food and Feeding People; Decolonizing Social Justice: A Storyteller’s Guide to Changing the World Access recordings here.

Penn State Office of Diversity and Inclusion Calendar of Events

Learn More

The 17 Principles of Environmental Justice were adopted in 1991 by delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit.

Image by Nyla Holland, Environmental Justice intern at the Sustainability Institute at Penn State.

Throughout the spring semester the 17 Principles of Environmental Justice will be highlighted and explored via Instagram on the Sustainability Institute's account, @sustainpsu. Follow this account for more information about EJ and related events.

Image on left by Waverly Huang

This collaboration is made possible by the following partnering colleges, units and organizations