~Environmental Justice Readings   



The goal of this assignment is to reflect on the connections between human society and the world we inhabit. You will read several articles that draw connections between how we think and live as a society, how privilege and access may affect our views, and how we interact with our environment. Then you will reflect on the points made by the authors by answering four questions, one from each article. The ideas presented in these articles may give context for many of the topics we discuss in class throughout the rest of the semester.





Read the article by Bill McKibben, Making a Planet Worth Saving.

Read the article by Marcia Bjornerud, How Geology Can Ease Your Mind.

 Read the article by Curley and Lister, Already Existing Dystopias.

 Read the article by Jeannette Armstrong, Native Perspectives on Sustainability.




Choose one discussion question from each group below and write a response (~200 words, or ~1 paragraph, max for each).  You will write one response for each of the 4 articles referred to below (4 total responses, and you have 2 to 4 questions to choose from for each Article). 


1. The article, "Making a planet worth saving," by Bill McKibben, was written shortly after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.


  • What connections does McKibben draw between our society's reliance on fossil fuels, climate change, and racial inequality? Explain.
  • How are individual health, police brutality, and environmental pollution connected?
  • What are the connections between racial justice and climate justice?


2. Based on the article, "How geology can ease your mind," by Marcia Bjornerud:


  • How does the "time denial" that Bjornerud describes contribute to the environmental problems we have today?
  • How does a long-range understanding of Earth history and Earth processes contribute to development of sustainable environmental policy?


 3. Based on the article, "Already Existing Dystopias" by Curley and Lister:


  • What are some of the connections drawn between colonialism, tribal sovereignty, and climate change by Curley and Lister?
  • How do structural and political phenomena like the “colonial entanglement” described in this article complicate the societal and scientifically-driven push to increase renewable energy use to address environmental degradation?


4. Based on the article, "Native Perspectives on Sustainability" by Jeannette Armstrong:


  • Given Armstrong's response (in terms of human languages) about the word "sustainability", what are the risks involved in amplifying only a single socially-dominant language or point of view when addressing complex environmental issues?
  • What is one component of the concept of sustainability as described by Armstrong that was new or interesting to you, and how can we incorporate this idea into our policies or practices to improve sustainability as a society?
  • What are some of the implications of thinking about humans as "separate from, or dominant, or somehow not part of the natural world" when trying to act sustainably or create sustainable practices in society?
  • What is your view about whether humans are separate from or a part of the natural world (or another viewpoint)?  How do you think your view informs the way you interact with the natural world?


Answer one of the above questions for each Article (1-4) in a Word document and hand it in on Canvas under your lab section.  You will find the assignment listed under “Environmental Justice Readings” on the assignment page.