Latinx Environmental Justice
This course explores the involvement of the Latinx environmental justice movement since the 1960s. It addresses theories and concepts of environmental racism and environmental justice, underscoring how Latinx have challenged, expanded, and contributed to the environmental justice discourse. In this course, students will explore national case studies of environmental and racial injustice as they bear on Latinx communities both in rural areas and in urban barrios throughout the United States. The course will analyze these case studies through the lens of Latinx artistic and literary texts (essays, paintings, short stories, documentaries, and short films) as they provide a unique historic and multicultural perspective of the Latinx experience with environmental injustice and of how Latinxs imagine alternative transitions and responses to environmental marginalization. In addition, the works of Latinx artists and writers will serve as case studies to deconstruct racial stereotypes of Latinxs as unconcerned about environmental issues, shedding light on how they share a broad engagement with environmental ideas. The case studies analyzed in this course emphasize race and class differences between farmworkers and urban barrio residents and how they affect their respective struggles. The unit on farmworkers will focus on workplace health issues such as toxic chemicals and collective bargaining contracts. The unit on urban barrios will focus on gentrification, affordable housing, and toxic substances in the home. We will also review current and past programs that have been organized to address the aforementioned problems. This is an Academically Based Community Service Course (ABCS course) through which students will learn from and provide support to a Latinx-serving organization in the City of Philadelphia on preventing exposure to hazardous substances, thus bridging the information gap on environmental justice issues in the Latinx community in Philadelphia. Information dissemination and education efforts will be conducted by collaborating with Esperanza Academy Charter School in Philadelphia to implement lessons on preventing exposure to hazardous substances. Studying environmental justice and pairing it with community service will heighten students' awareness of the complexities of culture, race, gender, and class while providing them with an invaluable experience of cross-cultural understanding.
This course fulfills Arts & Humanities Approaches to Environmental Inquiry elective.