Fostering community-driven research for social and environmental justice
Greetings from the Environmental Justice Law and Advocacy Project
While you recently received the spring newsletter from SCU’s Environmental Justice and the Common Good Initiative, we wanted to highlight how SCU Law School members are engaging with the Initiative, and ways for you to become involved. We are members of the faculty collaborative that created the Initiative in 2019 and would be pleased to answer any questions you may have about how it could support your teaching and research.
Tseming Yang and Zsea Bowmani
Environmental Justice Law and Advocacy Lab Launches
Led by Tseming Yang and Zsea Bowmani of SCU’s School of Law, our innovative Lab has begun training law students and undergraduates to find effective and creative solutions to clients' environmental legal needs. The Lab is also cultivating future environmental law students through undergraduate engagement, educating local governments and leaders in the value of incorporating environmental justice in their decision making, and augmenting the University's expertise in environmental law and justice.
The Lab has engaged students and community partner All Positives Possible in developing a resource guide for community advocates to use California’s civil rights laws to fight environmental discrimination. Students have also collaborated with organizations such as Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice to provide research and public comments on local impacts of an animal rendering plant and several concrete plants in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. In Imperial County, CA, the lab’s research supported the Quechan Tribe’s investigation of a proposed gold mine at Indian Pass, which would have threatened this environmentally-sensitive site that is sacred to the tribe. Bowmani recently presented some of these projects at UC Berkeley and the Yale New Horizons in Conservation Conference. See the Lab’s blog for more information.
Programming and Publications Spotlight
The Human Right to Water in Tribal Communities
Bidtah Becker, Deputy Secretary for Environmental Justice, Tribal Affairs and Border Relations, CalEPA, and Heather Tanana, College of Law, University of Utah discussed tribal water issues, including access, infrastructure, quality, operations and maintenance. The presenters discussed the history and status of tribal water access, as well as opportunities created by new funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the State of California’s efforts to use its first-in-the-nation law establishing a human right to water to make this right a reality in Indigenous communities. Organized and moderated by the Initiative’s Iris Stewart-Frey and Clare Pace (UC Berkeley), the event was co-sponsored by the Initiative, the Northern California Environmental Justice Network for Community-Academic Partnerships, SCU’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, the UC Berkeley Water Equity Science Shop, Stanford’s Environmental Justice Working Group, and SJSU’s Department of Environmental Studies.
Santa Clara University joined the founding group of academic institutions pledging to embark on a seven-year journey to strengthen our contributions to integral ecology and environmental justice. These University Pathways are part of the larger Laudato Si’ Action Platform, developed by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to promote steps to integral ecology by Catholic organizations and all people of good will. The Initiative’s Chris Bacon helped to design the University Pathways’ Community Resilience and Empowerment goal, which includes “identifying and mobilizing constituents, welcoming the local community members into the university space, building trust, and finding solutions to local environmental problems.” The Initiative will support SCU’s efforts, led by the university’s Division of Mission and Ministry and our Center for Sustainability, to involve the university community in defining and implementing our path to deepen integral ecology in our academics and research, operations, and outreach.
The Initiative provides grants to SCU faculty and academic staff members to conduct research on environmental justice, especially involving a community-based approach. Here is the request for proposals for our previous rounds of grants. The next due date to submit applications is January 31, 2023.
Laudato Si’ across the Curriculum Program
This program supports SCU faculty and academic staff members to develop curricular projects that engage students in environmental and social justice research, especially using a community-engaged research and/or advocacy approach. Participants can develop a new curricular project or revise an existing one, and can apply to include a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant in the program. The program is named for Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, which urged humanity to act on the twin crises of ecological destruction and social justice. Here is the request for proposals for the 2022 cohort of participants. The program will accept a new round of applications in the 2022-2023 academic year.
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