Skip to main content


Environmental Justice

Law School LAW - Law School

Course Description

This course will introduce environmental justice as a social movement, including its central substantive concerns (the needs of humans in the built environment rather than the need to protect the environment from humans) and its methods (community-based political organizing rather than professionalized judicial or legislative action). The bulk of the course will then pursue a broader conception of environmental justice today by using social science research, theory, and case studies to investigate the civil rights and poverty aspects of environmental safety and natural resources. The course will include units on: (1) toxic exposure and public health disparities stemming from the disproportionate siting of locally-unwanted land uses in poor neighborhoods of color; (2) access to natural resources and basic public services, including clean water, wastewater disposal, and open space; (3) tools in environmental justice advocacy (including community-based lawyering, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, common law nuisance actions, and transactional lawyering); (4) environmental justice issues in Indian Country, and (5) environmental justice issues in climate change policy. Much of the course material, including student presentations, will be grounded in the experiences and advocacy histories of specific communities, both urban and rural, across the country. This class is limited to 25 students, with an effort made to have students from SLS (20 students will be selected by lottery) and 5 non-law students by consent of instructor. Special Instructions: Students on the waitlist for the course will be admitted if spots are available on the basis of priority and degree program. Course requirements will include class participation, in-class presentation, and either response papers (section 01) or a long research paper for R credit (section 02). A maximum of 10 students will be permitted to write the long research paper with instructor consent. After the term begins, students enrolled in the course can transfer from section (01) into section (02), which meets the R requirement, with consent of the instructor. Elements used in grading: Class participation, in-class presentation; response papers or a final research paper.

Grading Basis

L02 - Law Honors/Pass/Restricted credit/Fail





Course Repeatable for Degree Credit?


Course Component


Enrollment Optional?



LAW2515 is a completion requirement for: