Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities, and Trade: Mapping Environmental Justice Project (2014)

Client Organization: 
European Commission: Community Research and Development Information Service
Project Location : 
Ann Arbor, MI
Summary of Project Idea: 

The environmental justice movement emerged in the United States in the 1970s within the context of the grassroots activism of the civil rights movement. In the following decades, the EJ movement continued to grow and evolve. Today, EJ is recognized by the US EPA as a central priority. Major environmental organizations have staff positions and projects dedicated to the issue. EJ topics are widely studied within academia. In an increasingly globalized world, environmental injustices are not contained within national borders and activists around the world are sharing knowledge and best practices to improve their effectiveness

The EJOLT Project is a European Union-funded collaboration of twenty-three academic and activist organizations from around the world working to bring “science and society together to catalogue ecological distribution conflicts and work towards confronting environmental injustices.” The project at the core of the EJOLT mission is a five year effort to compile a comprehensive database documenting environmental justice conflicts. The database will include conflicts from around the world, focusing on environmental problems with a strong grassroots community activism component.

The goals of this project are to contribute forty case studies to the EJOLT database and to conduct in depth research and literature review on broad trends of the evolution of environmental justice organizations in the U.S.  and their role in resolving environmental conflicts. We acknowledge that EJOs are just one of many actors within the environmental justice movement. Much research has been done demonstrating the enormous impact of other types of environmental justice groups (including community groups, churches, indigenous groups, youth organizations, community development corporations, etc.) on EJ victories across the country. Much less has been written about the role of EJOs and we are hoping to explore these types of groups further in order to understand their place in the wider EJ movement.

By achieving these goals, this project contributes valuable and practical information to the EJOLT project that will serve as a tool for activists across the world to understand the dynamics and tactics employed in environmental justice conflicts in the U.S.  Additionally, these results will foster improved communication between environmental justice stakeholders in the U.S. and other countries. 

SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Behavior, Education, and Communication
Environmental Justice
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Rebecca Hardin
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Alejandro Colsa, MS Environmental Justice
  • Bernadette Grafton, MS Behavior, Education and Communication
  • Katy Hintzen, MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Sara Orvis, MS Environmental Justice
Project Status: 
Past Project