InTeGrate Modules and Courses >SERC > Lisa Nirva > EJ and Freshwater in Flint, Michigan
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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« InTeGrate: Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources Discussion

EJ and Freshwater in Flint, Michigan  

Since 1996, nine years after publication of the foundational document of the movement Toxic Waste and Race authored by NAACP and United Church of Christ and two years after then President Clinton issued an executive order on Environment Justice, I received an NSF grant to develop a course in Earth Science and Environmental Justice.

Since then, awareness of the topic has increased nearly exponentially. Use of Google Ngram viewer using the phrases "environmental justice" and "environmental racism" (see link below) reveals that although the phrase "environmental racism" has reached a plateau, discussion of"environmental justice" has continued to rise.

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=environmental+racism%2C+environ...

Over the last 20 years I have taught my students about the intersections of earth science and environmental justice because I have always believed and continue to believe that earth scientists need to involve themselves in the movement by teaching to students and citizens the basic earth science relevant to environmental justice. Because of this conviction I proposed and led the development of the InTeGrate module, "Freshwater and Environmental Justice". Though there are many arenas in which earth scientists can contribute scientific information to advance social justice throughout the 'Critical Zone', justice in the realm of access to clean drinking water continues to plague regions of discarded populations.

So, my mind turns to the recent disclosure of Pb-contaminated drinking water surreptitiously supplied to the poor in Flint, Michigan. I pose to the group, how can geologists use our knowledge to increase the scientific knowledge about Pb-contaminated drinking water so that understanding of the situation in Flint, empowers concerned citizens to be a positive force for change there? What scientific elements related to Pb contamination could be incorporated into this module?

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« InTeGrate: Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources Discussion

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »