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  • Research Grants

    The Initiative provides grants to SCU faculty members to conduct research on environmental justice, especially involving a community-based approach. 

    Here is the request for proposals for Spring 2024 grants. Applications are due April 3, 2024.


  • Research Grants Awarded
  • Maia Dedrick (Anthropology), Amy Lueck (English), and Becca Nelson (Center for Sustainability - Forge Garden)
    Native Plants for Stewardship, Harvest and Sustainable Use in Ohlone Cultural Projects

    This project supports the purchase, cultivation, digitization, and public interpretation of Native plants for SCU’s Forge Garden. This work will support Ohlone cultural knowledge sharing and public education about land stewardship, cultivation, and uses of plants for traditional practices like basketry and food preparation. Ohlone youth will engage with plants during an annual summer cultural camp, while SCU students and community members will learn from interpretive materials featured at the Forge, including in-person signage and a stop on the Thamien Ohlone augmented reality campus walking tour that is currently in development.

  • Jesica Siham Fernández (Ethnic Studies)
    The Youth for Justice Project: Fostering Sociopolitical Development for Environmental Justice Action

    The Youth for Justice Project fosters youth sociopolitical development via art and advocacy action projects. Through participatory action research with students at a Jesuit middle school in downtown San José, youth are supported in their understanding of intersecting environmental justice issues impacting their quality of life. The goal of the YJP is to center youth in efforts toward actualizing sustainability for systems-impacted communities in the Silicon Valley.

  • Chan Thai (Communication)
    Water Transforms Life: Interviews with Community Members in Negros Occidental, Philippines

    Access to water is essential for life and health, yet the distribution of water in the Philippines remains inequitable. In partnership with Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation, Inc (AIDFI), this project seeks to understand the transformative effects access to water has on physical, financial, and social health in remote borangays (villages) in the Philippines.  The grant will support the research partners to supplement quantitative survey data with qualitative data that will provide a more rich and nuanced understanding of the effects of access to running water.

  • Leslie Gray (Environmental Studies and Sciences) & Michael Kevane (Economics)
    Gendered Adaptation to Climate Change in Tanzania

    This project will examine climate justice issues in Tanzania, where vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by high levels of poverty and reliance on rainfed agriculture. The research will investigate how smallholder farmers are affected by and react to climate change, and how adaptation is mediated by social differences. In particular, women and men experience climate change differently, with adaptive capacities varying by access to resources, knowledge, and institutions. This grant will support the research team to conduct scoping activities, explore research collaborations with Tanzanian institutions and researchers, identify community partners, and visit potential sites with varied agro-ecological systems. This grant was co-funded by the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

  • Jessica Kuczenski (Engineering) & Allan Báez Morales (Frugal Innovation Hub)
    Nurturing the Future: Engineering Students Tackle Food Insecurity through Community Gardening

    This project will leverage connections to local community gardens and urban farms to help fight food insecurity and raise awareness of the nitrogen cycle’s role in food production in collaboration with engineering students in ENGR 1L - Introduction to Engineering Lab.  The grant will help support the School of Engineering to reimagine its first-year curriculum to focus on sustainability and grand challenges for engineering, creating new student research opportunities that offer a multidisciplinary perspective and include human-centered design to address environmental challenges and their social and societal impact. This grant was co-funded by the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

  • Molly King (Sociology)
    Ready-to-Roll: Emergency Preparedness Intervention for People with Mobility Disabilities in the Face of Climate Disaster

    This study uses surveys to investigate how people with disabilities prepare for climate-related disasters. Together with community partner United Spinal, the project will work to rectify the disproportionate impact of climate change on disabled populations by addressing the current lack of disaster preparedness among people with mobility disabilities by studying the impact of providing disaster kits and education outreach.

  • Maryam Mobed Miremadi (Bioengineering) & Maryam Khanbaghi (Electrical Engineering)
    Fair Distribution of Electric Power One Microgrid at a Time

    Power outages are very costly. Investment in grid modernization will save the U.S. economy billions of dollars, but this investment doesn’t seem to be equitably shared. This community-based research project assesses loss of electricity in low-income communities and strategies to help these communities to benefit from reliable and affordable clean energy.

  • Won Jung Kim & Kathleen Jablon Stoehr (Education)
    Research-Practice Partnership with Beginning STEM Teachers and their Students in East San Jose Communities

    The project involves conducting a research-practice partnership with beginning STEM teachers and their students to critically examine and take conscious actions on climate and environmental issues. This partnership will support students to act as rightful youth experts in examining and exposing environmental injustices experienced by students’ local and global communities.

  • Jesica Siham Fernández (Ethnic Studies)
    The Youth for Justice Project: A Racial & Environmental Justice School-Based Art for Action Afterschool Program

    The Youth for Justice Project is an afterschool program in downtown San José that supports preadolescent youth in developing their sociopolitical citizenship through a critical ethnic studies art-centered curriculum. The project supports middle school youth in their understanding of racial and environmental justice and centers youth voices within communities experiencing systemic inequities.

  • Sharmila Lodhia (Women’s & Gender Studies) & Sonja Mackenzie (Public Health)
    Mapping the Legacy of Redlining in San Jose, CA during the COVID-19 Pandemic

    This project will augment a student-developed website illustrating how current racial segregation and COVID-19 trends in San Jose, CA are shaped by redlining practices. Through outreach with community organizations we aim to further develop this interactive tool to meet the education and advocacy goals of organizations working at the intersections of environmental justice and public health.

  • CJ Gabbe (Environmental Studies & Sciences) & Jamie Chang (Public Health)
    Assessing Extreme Heat Vulnerability for the Unhoused in San Jose

    Extreme heat harms communities in unequal ways, with people who are vulnerable most affected. There is limited evidence about how heat affects people who are unhoused. Our community-based research assesses (1) heat exposure for people living in homeless encampments in San Jose; and (2) strategies that people who are homeless use to cope with extreme heat.

  • Lisa Martinez (Bronco Urban Gardens) & Laura Nichols (Sociology)
    Growing Neighborhood Resilience via School-Based and Community Garden Research

    The purpose of this project is to formulate a participatory research process with parents to collect data from students at Gardner and Washington Elementary schools who participate in SCU’s Center for Sustainability Garden Clubs and Garden Labs. The grant will allow for students and parents to work together with SCU partners on a community-defined project related to environmental justice and healthy living in their community.

  • Lee Panich (Anthropology)
    Reclaiming Traditional Ecological Knowledge for the Muwekma Ohlone Preservation Foundation

    This project supports the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe’s efforts to restore traditional landscape management practices via its Preservation Foundation. We seek to recover traditional ecological knowledge—including information on plants, animals, and gathering places—from early anthropological field notes to contribute to the environmental health and sovereignty of the contemporary tribal community.

  • Naomi Levy (Political Science) & Ryan Tans (Political Science)
    The Consequences of Coastal Reclamation in Indonesia

    Reclamation promises to reinforce coastlines against rising seas, but it also threatens to draw people to the coast, compounding risks and displacing existing communities. In this project, we partner with Walhi, an environmental advocacy NGO, to document the effects of reclamation on wealthy and poor coastal communities in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

  • Kristin Kusanovich (Theatre & Dance) & Omar Davila (Child Studies)
    Climate Creativity: An Environmental Justice project for Youth Creators & Protectors

    This community-based, environmental justice project invites children/youth/families from Santa Maria Urban Ministries programs in the greater Washington neighborhood of San Jose to imagine themselves as artistic creators and protectors of the climate. Participants shape research questions and goals that are culturally and neighborhood-specific, investigate relevant scientific concepts/findings/solutions, express their feelings and visions through higher-order thinking in the visual and performing arts, and present their creations, discoveries, and advocacy plans in the first youth-led tUrn Climate Creativity headliner at SCU.

  • Molly King (Sociology)
    Disability and Climate Change Knowledge

    This study uses interviews to investigate how disability identity and information seeking affect the range of potential responses to climate change. It will help to rectify the disproportionate impact of climate change on disabled populations by addressing the current lack of research on how people with mobility disabilities prepare for and deal with environmental change.

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