Doing Justice Through Your Research: Following Your Passion and Creating a Just Society as an Ecologist
Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
101B, Minneapolis Convention Center
Leanne M. Jablonski
Carmen R. Cid
Megan M. Gregory
Megan M. Gregory
Ecologists are making important contributions to environmental justice (EJ) through their places of work, research, education, and policy engagement. EJ is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies” (US-EPA). To facilitate citizen involvement in creating positive environmental and social change, ecologists increasingly employ community-based approaches to research and education. Engaging people in constructing and applying ecological knowledge can enhance citizens’ capacity to address environmental issues that affect quality of life, thus promoting EJ (Bryant and Callewaert, 2003).
However, because participatory action research is not well-established in the natural sciences, ecologists often lack role models and institutional support for undertaking community-based research and its praxis of mutual engagement and ongoing reflection. To address these gaps, this session features stories of ecologists who have addressed justice concerns through research and education. Our goals are to (1) inspire and guide ecologists to engage in community-based research and education for justice and sustainability, and (2) contribute to dialogues about institutional change to support such work.
This session will first outline traditions of scientists and academics engaging in society, and pose issues regarding the roles of ecologists and their research in the public sphere. We will feature established ecologists and emerging leaders who have addressed justice concerns in innovative ways. They are from diverse cultures (Asian, Black, Caucasian, Latinas) and work cross-culturally in urban, rural and indigenous settings. Two highlight ESA’s developments in addressing these themes, including SEEDS, WAMIE, and the EJ Section. Others will share stories of promoting EJ through undergraduate education, urban ecosystem research, and an international network to develop agro-ecological solutions to hunger and poverty. Speakers will also highlight trans-disciplinary collaborations that allow ecologists to address EJ issues in a holistic way through work with youth and community development programs, urban planners, and public health initiatives.
This session builds on past EJ, diversity and mentoring initiatives and is part of several ESA 2013 meeting events helping participants link inspiration to action, including 1) a workshop for students and advisors, or other collaborators to develop research and outreach plans that integrate justice concerns and 2) a special session to review and provide input on the draft, “Ecologists’ Guide to Working with Communities,” an EJ section project. Wisdom and best practices will be distributed by print, electronic and social media.