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Welcome to our Spring EJ Newsletter!

MAY 2021

We hope this quarterly newsletter serves as an opportunity to share and reflect on EJ community building at Stanford and beyond, showcasing the vibrant dynamics behind diverse areas of scholarship, activities, collaborations, and events.

The Environmental Justice Working Group (EJWG) at Stanford is an intergenerational collective working to embed environmental justice into our research, teaching, and community-engagement at Stanford. Our EJWG Coordinating Council meets every two weeks. We comprise a dedicated leadership team with faculty, staff, and student co-leads and representatives from 20 different organizational affiliations on campus. We serve a broader community of 600+ members and connect broadly with Bay Area EJ leaders supporting academic-community partnerships.


Community leaders, students and faculty collaborate in the fight for clean air in Stockton


Stockton residents live with a significant air pollution burden and one of the highest childhood asthma rates in the state. Funding through the Community Air Protection Program under AB 617 presents an opportunity for impacted communities to take the lead on addressing these long-standing patterns of environmental injustice. Community-based research and advocacy are critical to document the presence and extent of the inequities and ensure resources are directed toward community priorities.

Since January 2021, community organizations in Stockton and students and faculty from several universities have been collaborating in the fight for clean air. With input from community leaders, student teams have analyzed air permits, identified and mapped top emitters, pollutants, and changes in emissions, studied and mapped health impacts, and compiled resources on how residents can protect themselves and their families. Partners include: Little Manila Rising, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Stockton and Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, and students and faculty from Santa Clara University and the Environmental Justice and the Common Good Initiative, Stanford University, and the University of California, Berkeley. At Stanford, students from Stanford Climate and Health, Earth Systems Masters Seminar (EARTHSYS 290) and the Future Bay Initiative have been involved.

During a virtual event on April 14 with nearly 80 people in attendance, Stockton residents shared their experiences and advocacy efforts, and students from Santa Clara University (ESS Capstone) and Stanford shared their research findings. The presentations documented as persistent problems the disproportionate presence of large air pollution emitters near Stockton neighborhoods with lower income and a greater percentage of the residents identifying as people of color, and the continued operation of many industrial facilities despite expired emission permits. On May 5, UC Berkeley students in the Civil & Environmental Engineering course, Design for Global Transformation, shared their final presentations on emissions reduction strategies for nature and food systems, industry, transportation and energy in Stockton. Community and university partners plan to continue working together, and new collaborators are welcome! (Photo: Port of Stockton. Matt Holmes, Jan. 19, 2021)

Learn more:

Get involved! There is a great need for more research and other support as the implementation phase of the Community Emissions Reduction Plan begins! To get involved, please email Jonathan Pruitt, Catholic Charities (, Matt Holmes, Little Manila Rising (, Esther Conrad, the Haas Center for Public Service (, and India Rogers-Shepp, Stanford Climate and Health, (

New EJ Minor

The Earth Systems Program will launch a new Environmental Justice Minor in the 2021-22 academic year. The EJ minor will enable students to apply a holistic understanding of environmental justice frameworks, histories, and theories to the problematization of social-environmental challenges across multiple disciplines. Opportunities for community-engaged learning are key to the design of the new minor, and students who complete the minor will be eligible for the Cardinal Service Notation. Also new in 2021-22, the Earth Systems Program will require coursework in environmental justice, environmental ethics, and/or environmental human rights as part of the major's core curriculum; however this change will not affect the major's total unit count.

Anti-Greenwashing Toolkit

The Center for Interdisciplinary Environmental Justice (CIEJ) has produced an Anti-Greenwashing Toolkit with resources to share and spark discussion among educators and activists. The toolkit includes: 1) An opinion piece challenging electrification as a climate solution, 2) An "Salt to Stars" comic with gorgeous art by @sophcal which narrates the impacts of and Indigenous resistance to lithium mining for EVs/renewables, 3) 10 Dos and Don'ts for Green New Deal organizers to redirect climate action away from extractivism toward decolonization, 4) An infographic about electric vehicles' "secret life", and 5) A Science for the People Magazine article written by CIEJ "No Comemos Baterias: Solidarity Science Against False Climate Change Solutions". All resources are available here. (Photo: Tesla drivers, scientists, social justice organizations, and environmentalists are urging us towards massive capital investments in renewable energies. But greenwashed energy technologies are not sustainable, nor are they climate change solutions. Original Art by Sophie Wang and CIEJ)

Internship Opportunity with Iconic EJ Scholar Catherine Flowers

Catherine Flowers, the award-winning sanitation researcher and advocate, White House EJ Advisory Council member, MacArthur Fellow, and author of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, is offering an internship for students to work on water/water systems in the US. The interns will support efforts to document wastewater infrastructure issues across the United States. Internship opportunities will be available here in June. (Photo: "oh dear.. save water!" by VinothChandar is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Students for a Sustainable Stanford 

The Education Project Group of Students for a Sustainable Stanford (SSS) focuses on promoting and furthering education surrounding sustainability and using a justice-focused lens in these educational initiatives. 

During this school year, they have formed a partnership with the Palo Alto-based nonprofit, Acterra, who focuses on local solutions to climate change. With Acterra, we aided in the creation and development of the You(th) Be the Change Program, a workshop aimed at middle school students. This workshop taught students topics ranging from the science behind climate change to how frontline communities in the Bay Area will be disproportionately impacted by these changes. 

Furthermore, their group created and taught a class at the Stanford Winter Enrichment Experience for Teens. It focused on the history of the EJ movement, environmental injustices in the Bay Area, and ways students could get involved in environmental activism.

ASSU Student Committee in Sustainability

The student committee on the new school focused on sustainability and climate held a deliberative polling event on May 8th. Approximately 200 students discussed proposals on the new school written by the student committee, with topics including academic and curricular structure, ethical funding sources, institutional support and prioritization of environmental justice, and more. We have also held BIPOC community focus groups and an informal discussion on engaging and centering frontline communities in the new school, and are still working on compiling and summarizing the results of these discussions and events for open sharing.In addition, we are working on channels for open and transparent student and community participation in the design of the new school and advancement of environmental justice. Please click here to view an op-ed written by the student committee, as well as a recent blog post on engaging with these issues in the new school.

Stanford Students for Environmental and Racial Justice

In collaboration with KITA Products, and the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, Stanford Students for Environmental and Racial Justice (SERJ) have launched a sticker fundraiser to support the establishment of the Amah Mutsun Cultural Burns Program. All (past and current) proceeds will be matched through the end of Spring quarter (June 4th)! Since the launch of the sticker in the winter, we have raised nearly $1,600--all of which will be matched! We hope to raise an additional $900 by June 4th.

Logo of the The Amah Mutsun Land TrustThe 2020 wildfires in the Santa Cruz Mountains and throughout California highlight the urgent need to restore Indigenous stewardship, especially cultural burning. Indigenous cultural burning is prescribed fire initiated by Indigenous peoples that promotes ecological and cultural resources, sustains ecosystems, builds wildfire resilience, and is informed by traditional ecological knowledge and practices. This initiative would help the Amah Mutsun restore Indigenous cultural burning to their ancestral territory, recover losses from the CZU Lightning Complex fires, and establish this new program. 

More on AMLT: The Amah Mutsun Land Trust is a non-profit established by the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band to protect and restore Indigenous cultural resources and sacred lands within the ancestral territories of the Mutsun and Awaswas peoples, along California's Central Coast. Through three brutal periods of colonization, the Amah Mutsun were removed from their ancestral lands, and prohibited from engaging in the land stewardship practices their ancestors had followed for thousands of years.Image of the fundraiser sticker

Support the fundraiser by purchasing a sticker here

You can also learn more about the Amah Mutsun cultural burning here.

Additionally, the Amah Mutsun are calling for support in protecting their most sacred site, Juristac, from a proposed open pit mine development. Find out how you can support at these monthly presentations held by South Bay Indigenous Solidarity, the next one being held June 17th (more event details here). Learn more at and contact with any questions.

Upcoming PhD Defense:
Upstream Oil Production, Ambient Air Quality, and Preterm Birth in California

David Gonzalez, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources

Wednesday June 2, 2021 | 1:30-2:30 pm PT | Zoom Webinar

An estimated 17.6 million United States residents live within 1 mile (1.6 km) of active oil or gas wells, including 2.1 million Californians. Prior studies have found higher exposure to pollution and higher risk of adverse health outcomes among people living near unconventional (i.e., hydraulically fractured) natural gas wells. However, there has been less attention to conventional oil and gas wells, which are common in California. In my dissertation, I investigated how exposure to oil production in California affects ambient air quality and the risk of preterm birth, a leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality. In Chapter 1, using a classic epidemiological study design, my colleagues and I found associations between exposure to oil and gas wells in the San Joaquin Valley and higher risk of preterm birth. Chapters 2 and 3 extend this work and integrate epidemiology, applied econometrics, and environmental science. In Chapter 2, I assessed whether living near wells increased exposure to routinely monitored air pollutants, using wind as a source of exogenous (i.e., random) variation. In Chapter 3, I leveraged a matched-sibling design to determine whether higher exposure to oil production increased risk of preterm birth among births to the same parent. I also examined racial disparities in exposures to oil and gas wells. This work can help inform ongoing state and local policy discussions around evidence-based interventions to protect public health. (Photo: "Sergeant Major oil well - Evanson Place - Arnegard North Dakota - 2013-07-04" by Tim Evanson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

EJWG Environmental Justice Graduate Student Research Fellowships

Stanford's EJ Working Group is pleased to announce the recipients of our Environmental Justice Graduate Student Research Fellowship! This $5,000 fellowship will support five Stanford graduate students with summer research in 2021. This fellowship has been made possible through a Stanford Sustainability Seed Funding grant awarded to the EJWG to “seed” initiatives that can be undertaken in the new school of sustainability, which is currently under development at Stanford.

The fellowship will support scholarly research and research training that relates to both (a) the environment, defined broadly as the places where we live, work, and play; and (b) social justice movements working to address deeply rooted histories of structural inequity, violence, and racism against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) communities, and other groups that have been made marginalized through social hierarchies.


Toxic Soil: A threat to urban agriculture and food security in marginalized communities
Alexis Wilson

Alexis Wilson (she/her) is a second year PhD student in the Department of Earth System Science, a Graduate Public Service Fellow, and Graduate Fellow for the “Partnerships for Climate Justice in the Bay Area” Haas Center initiative. Her passion lies in understanding and combating environmental racism and climate injustices on local and global scales. Alexis’ current research focuses on identifying and remediating soil contamination in urban gardens, particularly in marginalized communities in the Bay Area. Her goal is to provide information to community members about the health of their soil, potential contamination, and options for remediation. She is pursuing this work in partnership with local environmental organizations and centering community-identified needs in the research process. She will use an interdisciplinary approach to advance our understanding of the important intersection of soil biogeochemistry, environmental justice, and food security, global issues becoming increasingly important.

Reimagining Just Resource Governance and Renewable Energy Transitions in Mexico
Zoe Vangelder

Zoe Vangelder is a 2nd year PhD student in the Anthropology department. Their research examines how agrarian indigenous social movements and allied solar engineers are articulating a vision for a just transition, empowering Mexico’s rural and indigenous communities to appropriate renewable energy technologies and reorient national conversations around energy use. They ask how these technopolitical encounters between indigenous activists and solar engineers might be articulating a new resource governance paradigm. Zoe’s work this summer will explore the mechanisms that enable the meaningful involvement of all people in the development and implementation of environmental policy, and asks how new stakeholders are reimagining the arts of democratic eco-governance to facilitate a just transition.

An Ethnographic Case Study of Hong Kong’s Anti-Land Reclamation Movement
Shan Huang

Shan is a 6th year PhD student in the Anthropology department whose dissertation examines how top-down developmental schemes in Hong Kong are confronted by grassroots actions aimed at promoting alternative urban futures. His work this summer will include completing and refining a chapter of his dissertation that focuses on the Farm to Table, an NGO-led project aimed at building an “agricultural community” on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Farm to Table is specifically invested in concretely and collaboratively envisioning the possibilities of urban-rural cohabitation that are both socially just and environmentally friendly. Shan’s work seeks to understand what Farm to Table staff and affiliates do in local community to make these environmental and social visions tangible and participatory for both local residents and incoming citizens.
Understanding Social Drivers and Barriers to Sustainable Mobility in Sonoma County 
Sita Syal & Nora Hennessy

Sita is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Mechanical Engineering department, whose work focuses on quantifying human influence and equity in sustainable energy systems models through an integration of qualitative and quantitative methods. Nora is a 3rd year PhD candidate in the Energy Resources Engineering department whose research focuses on equity and environmental justice in the energy transition. Together, as part of the Decommissioning ICE Vehicles (DIVE) research lab led by Dr. Margot Gerritsen, they are working to understand access to clean mobility benefits in Sonoma County. Their work this summer will involve engaging the low income and Latinx communities of Sonoma County in interviews to understand the transportation needs of the community and the barriers to electric vehicle adoption and removal of conventional vehicles from the road in these communities. They are working with Alegria De La Cruz, the county’s Chief Equity Officer, Efren Carrillo, Director of Government Relations and Co-Director of Housing Development for Burbank Housing, and Karen Eggerman, DIVE project partner and Partner at Tensleep Advisory. 

More events can be found on our website's calendar.
Featured Upcoming Events

Fall EJ Pedagogy Workshop

Keep your heads up for a virtual EJ pedagogy workshop in early fall! The workshop will be organized and facilitated by leaders of Stanford's Environmental Justice Working Group and EJ community leaders. The goals of this workshop will be to: (1) Deepen our collaborations/connections/learning opportunities with our Northern California EJ network; (2) Facilitate an EJ learning space for faculty who want to integrate EJ learning components into their classes; and (3) Create a vibrant, living, repository for collecting EJ teaching materials.

With interactive activities and breakout sessions, the workshop will help support participants in developing powerful EJ teaching materials (e.g., decolonizing syllabi, EJ assignment sheets, lesson plans) and build an inclusive EJ classroom culture (e.g., facilitating difficult conversations and building diverse and collaborative relationships). The event will also teach best practices for community engagement, teaching ethics of EJ for research-based classes, and teaching positionality in a classroom setting. 

Indigenous Leadership for Just Transitions: Silicon Valley Connections to Global Mining Justice

Global efforts for advancing clean energy and a green economy require conversations about justice, fairness and equity. Indigenous leaders from mining justice campaigns in different parts of the world are joining together to discuss tools and strategies for advancing environmental justice, Indigenous human rights, and sustainability.
With global supply chains, Silicon Valley clean energy/battery storage initiatives are becoming a driver for increased mineral production, and can also be part of the solution, e.g., alleviating impacts on affected communities. Indigenous leaders will present on challenges of nickel mining in the Russian Arctic (Aborigen Forum), lithium extraction in South America (communities of the Salar de Atacama and Cuenca de Salinas Grandes y Laguna de Guayatayoc), proposed gravel mining in the South Bay (Ahmah Mutsun Tribal Band, Protect Juristac Campaign), as well as Indigenous human rights principles of Free Prior and Informed Consent (First Peoples Worldwide and Cultural Survival). Please save the date for a special half-day symposium on Thursday, June 24, 9am-12pm Pacific.


Featured Past Events

Joint Research Workshop on Environmental Justice & Planetary Health

This 3-part series explored intersections between environmental justice and human-planetary health, taught best practices, discussed research challenges, and considered on-ramps for engaging with authentic EJ & health equity approaches through your research. Recorded sessions are available here.

Event Highlights Included:

  • Keynote with Catherine Flowers, an internationally recognized advocate for the human right to water and sanitation, who discussed her new book and considered the links between EJ practice, advocacy, & research for social impact.
  • Panel Discussion that touched upon effective approaches for building respectful EJ and health research partnerships with frontline communities.
  • Facilitated Break-out Sessions with discussions exploring best practice, research challenges, and on-ramps for scholars, practitioners, and students interested in engaging with authentic EJ research and practices.

Start planning ahead!
Check out our website for a list of upcoming Stanford EJ courses to be offered this summer, as well as a sneak peak of some featured classes below!

(click on the images for more information!)
We are excited to share our Environmental Justice blog series devoted to highlighting our most pressing and timely EJ issues! These stories center the work of community organizations, highlight urgent issues and innovative solutions, and perhaps most importantly, illuminate the stories and storytellers fighting for a better world.

Interested in submitting a short blog post to be featured on our site? Please email us!

Click on each icon to read more!

Ways to get involved: TwitterFacebookEmail listserv

Comments, suggestions, or questions? Please contact us at
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EJWG Coordinating Council members (as of fall 2020):

Sibyl Diver, Earth Systems Program; Emily Polk, Program in Writing and Rhetoric; Esther C Conrad, The Haas Center for Public Service; Richard Joseph Nevle, Earth Systems Program; Patrick Archie, Stanford Educational Farm; Jorge Ramos, Jasper Ridge Biological Reserve, Environmental Education; Jessie Brunner, Center for Human Rights and International Justice; Penelope Van Tuyl, Center for Human Rights and International Justice; Rob Jackson, Earth System Science, Woods Institute for the Environment, Precourt Institute; Rodolfo Dirzo, Department of Biology, Woods Institute for the Environment; Lupe Carillo, School of Earth, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Isabel Carrera Zamanillo, School of Earth, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Jane Willenbring, Geological Sciences; Sarah Fletcher, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Ayoade Balogun, Associated Students of Stanford University, Environmental Justice and Sustainability Committee; Bianca Silva Santos, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources; Nathaniel Arthur Ramos, Students for Environmental and Racial Justice; Chris Tan, Students for a Sustainable Stanford/ Students for Environmental and Racial Justice; Nancy Chang, Students for Environmental and Racial Justice/Stanford Food Recovery; Christopher LeBoa, Stanford Food Recovery; David J.X. Gonzalez, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources; Navami Jain, Stanford Climate and Health, Stanford School of Medicine; Tanvi Gupta, Students for a Sustainable Stanford; Josiah Josef Keoni Quon Rodriguez, Stanford Hui o Nā Moku, The Pacific Islander Coalition of Stanford University; Daniel Ahrens, Stanford Environmental Law Society; Maya Nell Burke, Students for Environmental and Racial Justice; Erin Pang, Fossil Free Stanford

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