Environmental Injustice: Evaluating the evidence
In this part of the course, students are introduced to the empirical, quantitative research purporting to demonstrate that environmental hazards are disproportionately sited in minority and low-income neighborhoods. Several class sessions are devoted to understanding the methods used in these studies, and students are also given an introduction to spatial analysis. They then write a short paper summarizing their evaluation of the evidence.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
We begin this section by reviewing the empirical literature showing that hazardous waste facilities are disproportionately located in low-income, minority communities. The leading study is Bullard's Dumping in Dixie. The articles by Susan Cutter explain several methodological problems with the kind of research Bullard did. An updated study, Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty, uses spatial analysis and other methodological improvements. I assign the methods appendix of that study, which explains how Bullard dealt with the problems noted by Cutter. I also introduce Cutter's more complex model of social vulnerability and we review her methods for measuring that. The students then receive a basic introduction to spatial modeling, using ArcGIS. This introduction is designed to make more concrete the method used by Bullard to study spatial distribution of hazardous waste faciliities. They go through an exercise exploring the spatial distribution of toxic release inventory sites in New Orleans, considering various explanations for the distributions they discover. The final exercise is the paper evaluating whether the empirical support for Bullard's environmental injustice claim are adequate.
Environmental Justice - QRE Section (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 12kB Sep8 10)
Environmental Justice - Reading List (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 11kB Sep8 10)