There is a copy of the syllabus available on Blackboard. Below are some highlights of the syllabus but please be sure to read the full syllabus.

This course focuses on the distributional dimensions of environmental degradation and environmental protection, as well as the movements that oppose injustice in environmental conditions. We will explore the social processes that generate synergistic race and class stratification, and how they influence how ecological, health, and other environmental costs impact different communities. Areas of focus will include the segregation of neighborhoods by class and race, the siting of hazardous facilities in communities of color, unequal protection for environmental health, climate injustice, and how each of these are analyzed through the lenses of critical environmental justice and racial capitalism. In short, we seek to understand why environmentally unequal and unjust conditions exist, how these are related to other forms of injustice, and how environmental concerns are often really socio-environmental concerns. In addition, this course will highlight how members of environmental justice movements stepped in to advocate for communities that had been ignored by mainstream environmentalism, and how these movements were inspired by and often the direct result of other struggles for social justice including a broad variety of civil rights.

By the end of this class, students will be able to:

  • Explain basic concepts and themes fundamental to understanding the topic of environmental justice, including its movement-based origins and present, as well as academic elaborations.
  • Promote critical thinking and your understanding of environmental, social and political history and contemporary conflict, and expand your view of race, gender, class, and stratification by examining environmental topics.
  • Explain theoretical perspectives on the causes and consequences of unequal exposure to environmental problems and unequal access to environmental benefits.
  • Understand multiple ways that race, class, gender, as well as other identities and group memberships affect one’s experience of and responses to ecological problems.
  • Think critically about your own life, how you impact and are affected by dynamics of social inequality and ecological problems.
  • Employ techniques and methods to analyze environmental justice issues and to explain these issues to audiences outside of academia in thoughtful ways that emphasize their relevance to a wide variety of lived experiences, inviting others to embrace environmental justice.

Due to the global pandemic, this class has been designed with a mix of synchronous (everyone together online) and asynchronous (videos you watch on your own) remote learning. This may result in a course structure that is different from what you are used to. Because of this, communication is key and students are encouraged to email me and to come to office hours, and to email me to schedule office hours appointments if you have a conflict with my office hours. Do not hesitate to contact me about any issues you may encounter, including those related to personal circumstances, difficulties in internet access, difficulties with course materials, or anything else that may impact the quality of the course for you.

This is how the course is structured. There is a website (the one you are on right now) that has all course readings and other materials such as my Tuesday lectures, videos, websites, and mapping tools that we will use in the class. These are provided for free and there are no books to purchase. The site password will be provided at the beginning of class. There is also a Blackboard site that we will use for assignments, grading, and communication.


On Tuesdays I will post a recorded lecture video that discusses the week’s readings and details the important ideas. The expectation is that the readings for that week will be completed by Tuesday, before you watch the lecture. This is because the lectures will not be summaries of the reading but will build from the readings to explore a variety of ideas. You may watch the lectures at your convenience (no need to watch them at the scheduled class time) but you should watch them before our Thursday discussion. These videos will usually be shorter than our assigned class time with the understanding (based on experience) that some will watch them twice or pause and take notes, and that the remainder of “in class” time can be applied to your group work and discussions, like discussions in an in-person class would be.


Most Thursdays we will have an all-class Zoom discussion followed by a group activity focused on a short reading, film, website, or some other source. Please read, watch, or explore these sources, as well as read the discussion prompt for that week, before class. Groups will be randomly assigned at the beginning of the course and you will work with the same group all term. While group projects will be graded, they will be graded as complete (or not) and will comprise part of your participation grade. I am not giving letter or number grades for group assignment because group work can be tough, especially in an online setting. I hope that everyone will come prepared, contribute to their group, take turns in different roles such as the person who takes group notes or writes the final response, and help to provide a friendly and inclusive environment.

Online Course Structure

I expect everyone to watch the lectures and come to the Thursday discussion prepared. Please be kind and charitable in the Zoom chats and other public discussions; we may discuss difficult subjects so extra care is helpful as we may have different levels of familiarity with these topics and appropriate terminology. If you have questions, please raise your hand on Zoom or ask them in the chat: if I don’t notice that your hand is up please use the chat to remind me (it’s hard to speak and watch a lot of people at the same time). I also expect cameras to be on to maintain a sense of a classroom setting, but if you need to turn them off for a moment for whatever reason, please do so but turn it back on as soon as possible. Do not take screen captures of me or your fellow students. If you have technical issues (and they always happen) don’t worry, just let me know and we’ll figure it out.

Attendance and Participation

Except in the case of extraordinary circumstances communicated to me in advance or as soon as possible after class, any absence from the Thursday discussion beyond two may affect your overall course grade, with each additional absence equal to a one-point deduction. Also, because your participation grade is combination of attendance, participation in our class discussions, and group work, failure to attend discussions may significantly affect your grade. I will try to open our Zoom chats at least 10 minutes before class. I recommend you try to log in early in case of technical issues. That having been said, I understand that technical issues may occur and will try to be flexible when they do.

Reading Load and Keeping Up

This is a reading intensive class. If you begin to fall behind or feel like you can’t keep up, come talk to me. There’s no shame in it and we can work together to ensure that you can be successful in this class. For example, at the request of a student in a prior class, I have indicated the readings to focus on if you can’t keep up (please see the course schedule below). I also will spend some time early in the class giving tips about how to read articles like those assigned in this class so you don’t waste time or energy.


While I do not require phones to be put away or off because some of us may have reasons to keep them out and on, please do not focus on your phone during class as this interferes with the learning process.   


My one general rule in class is not be disruptive to learning, either yours or that of other students.

Grades will be based on the following items. Late assignments may be penalized by an amount equal to a half letter grade for each day late, unless an extension for extraordinary circumstances is given. All assignments, including group participation responses, are due by 11:59 pm on the due date.


Worth 20% of your grade. Participation will consist of completion of 12 short group responses to Thursday discussion activities, each of which will be worth 1% of your grade (or 12% total). The other 8% will consist of attendance, participation in class discussions, and evidence of being prepared for class and discussion, including completing all assigned readings.


Two take home exams, each worth 20% of your grade. The exams will be open book and open note and will consist of short answer and short essay questions.

  • The first will be a midterm exam that will be distributed during week 7 and will be due on Tuesday, October 12 on Blackboard.
  • The second will be a final exam that will be distributed during week 15 and will be due on Thursday, December 2 on Blackboard.
  • While you are permitted (even encouraged) to study together, you must write the exams yourself and neither provide nor accept assistance from others while writing. Also, do not use outside sources for either exam.

Final Paper Proposal

Worth 10% of your grade. Your proposal for your final paper is due Tuesday, November 2 on Blackboard. Your final paper proposal should be about one page double spaced, include your idea for your final paper and at least 3 peer-reviewed sources that you will use. More information will be provided later in the class.

Final Paper:

Worth 30% of your grade. It is due Thursday, December 9 on Blackboard. Your final paper should be at least 8 pages, double spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font.

While more information will be provided later in the class, here’s a preview:

While Wikipedia has something of a bad name in academia, it is also the primary source that many people use for information about a variety of topics and subjects. Frankly, the environmental sociology Wikipedia page needs some help, and we’re going to provide it. Your final paper will focus on an intervention to improve the environmental sociology wiki using what you’ve learned in this class, as well as your interests and experience. My hope is that your papers will turn into actual edits to the Wikipedia page, so we can assist others who may not have the privilege of taking a college environmental sociology class to understand the field.

Grading Summary% of GradeDue date
Participation20%Duration of term
Midterm Exam20%October 12
Final Paper Proposal10%November 2
Final Exam20%December 2
Final Paper30%December 9
PercentageLetter Grade
94 +A
90-93 A-

Plagiarism is bad, period. It is unethical and undermines the process of learning and the legitimacy of science. All assignments will be carefully checked for plagiarism and any finding of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty may result in a failure in the assignment and/or the course.

If you have a question about whether something constitutes plagiarism, academic dishonesty, or otherwise violates course policies, please email me BEFORE doing that thing so we can discuss it. I am happy to provide advice about best practices and what’s forbidden.
My email:

View complete text of CUNY Academic Integrity Policy and Brooklyn College procedure for policy implementation. If a faculty member suspects a violation of academic integrity and, upon investigation, confirms that violation, or if the student admits the violation, the faculty member must report the violation. That is why I say to please email me BEFORE doing that thing so we can talk. From the CUNY policy please read the section entitled “Academic Regulations and Procedures” in the Brooklyn College Undergraduate Bulletin or Graduate Bulletin for a complete listing of academic regulations of the College.

The Center for Student Disability Services is working remotely at this time.  Please email them at for assistance.

Students should inform the professor if they have a disability or any other situation that may require Section 504/ADA accommodations.  The faculty and staff will attempt to work out whatever arrangements are necessary.

Please provide me with your course accommodation form and discuss your specific accommodation with me as soon as possible to ensure accommodations are met in a timely fashion.

In order to receive academic accommodations students must first be registered with the Center for Student Disability Services. Students who have a documented disability or who suspect that they might have a disability are invited to set up an appointment with the Director of the Center for Student Disability Services, Ms. Valerie Stewart-Lovell or the Assistant Director, Josephine Patterson or their general email

The form as well as the content of student written work will be a part of the student’s evaluation and grade.  Correct grammar, punctuation, spelling and organization and clarity of thought will be assessed.  Students should contact the Brooklyn College Learning Center, for assistance with writing. I am also available to consult with students about their writing.

Brooklyn College Learning Center

In light of recent circumstances and Brooklyn College’s move to distance learning, the Learning Center will be continuing online tutoring via the Zoom platform.

For anyone who might be unfamiliar, Zoom is a cloud-based online platform for video and audio conferencing that incorporates chat features as well as file-sharing capabilities to allow individuals and groups to replicate in-person communication in a virtual environment. At this time, we invite all students interested in receiving online tutoring to familiarize themselves with the Zoom platform by visiting Zoom’s support page.

Writing Tutors

  • To work with a writing tutor, you MUST read and follow these Online Writing Tutoring Student Instructions (pdf) on how to access this service.
  • All requests to work with a writing tutor must be sent via e-mail and contain the information outlined in the Online Writing Tutoring Student Instructions. You must follow these directions EACH time you wish to make an appointment. Any requests for writing appointments that do not follow these guidelines will receive a reply asking for the aforementioned information which will result in unnecessary delays and will curtail our ability to accommodate you in a timely manner. There are no exceptions to this requirement regardless of how many times you have worked with our tutors before.

I would like to create a learning environment that supports a diversity   of thoughts, perspectives, and opinions, and honors everyone’s identity (including race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, ability etc.) In order to accomplish this:

  • If you have a name or preferred set of pronouns that differ from those in your official academic records, please let me know.
  • If you feel that your performance in this class is being impacted by your experiences outside of class, please do not hesitate to come talk to me. If you would prefer to talk to someone outside of the course, the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs is an excellent resource.
  • I (like many of us) am still in the process of learning about diverse perspectives and identities. If anything is said in class that makes you uncomfortable (including by me) please come talk to me about it.

Bereavement Policy:

  1. Students who experience the death of a loved one must contact the Division of Student Affairs, 2113 Boylan Hall, if they wish to implement either the Standard Bereavement Procedure or the Leave of Absence Bereavement Procedure. The Division of Student Affairs has the right to request a document that verifies the death (e.g., a funeral program or death notice). Contact Email:
  2. Typically, this death involves that of a family member, in parallel to the bereavement policy for faculty and staff. However, it is up to the discretion of the Division of Student Affairs to determine if a death outside of the immediate family warrants implementation of the student bereavement policy.
  3. As an option, and in consultation with the Division of Student Affairs, students may take the Leave of Absence Bereavement after the Standard Bereavement.
  4. Reference to the Student Bereavement Policies will be noted on course syllabi.
  5. Students requesting a religious accommodation should contact the Division of Student Affairs as well. The chief student affairs officer, or a designee, and the student will engage in an interactive process with the goal of finding an acceptable accommodation.

Bereavement Procedure:

  • Upon approval from the Division of Student Affairs, the student is allowed one week, commencing from the day of notification to the Division of Student Affairs, of excused absence.
  • Should the student feel that he/she needs additional days, these should be discussed with individual course instructors and/or the Division of Student Affairs.
  • The Division of Student Affairs will contact the student’s faculty and academic staff of the student’s courses.
  • Faculty and academic staff will be advised that extensions must be granted to the student for the period of one week of excused absence.
  • Further extensions may be negotiated with the student when he or she returns to campus.
  • Students are encouraged to discuss options with their instructors.

Leave of Absence Bereavement Procedure:

  • Students may be allowed to withdraw from the semester in which the death occurs.
  • The Bereavement Leave of Absence is for one semester only.
  • Students who have opted to take the Bereavement Leave of Absence and have already attended classes for the semester of the leave will be allowed to re-enter the following semester without having to reapply to the college.
  • Students who wish to take the leave of absence prior to the beginning of the semester will be required to reapply for the following semester.
  • Students who are in good academic standing will be given the opportunity to successfully complete the credits for the semester in which they return.
  • Students will consult with the Division of Student Affairs, on a case-by-case basis, as to whether they should withdraw from their courses during this leave of absence or to request incompletes from the faculty member.
  • Given that there may be a potential impact on financial aid, students who receive financial aid and who take the Bereavement Leave of Absence, upon arrangement with the Division of Student Affairs, will meet with a financial aid adviser prior to taking this option.

  • The New York State Education Law provides that no student shall be expelled or refused admission to an institution of higher education because he or she is unable to attend classes or participate in examinations or study or work requirements on any particular day or days because of religious beliefs.
  • Students who are unable to attend classes on a particular day or days because of religious beliefs will be excused from any examination or study or work requirements.
  • Faculty must make good-faith efforts to provide students absent from class because of religious beliefs equivalent opportunities to make up the work missed; no additional fees may be charged for this consideration.
  • If classes, examinations, or study or work requirements occur on Friday after 4 p.m. or on Saturday, similar or makeup classes, examinations, or study or work requirements will be made available on other days, where possible and practical.
  • The faculty and the administration will not allow any adverse or prejudicial effects to accrue to students availing themselves of this regulation.
  • If students have complaints about the application of this policy, they are entitled to bring action or a proceeding for enforcement of their rights in the Supreme Court of Kings County