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New Brown U. curriculum track: environmental studies with ‘social equity focus’

After “years of student interest,” a new undergraduate curriculum track at Brown University will bring a “social equity focus to the environmental studies and environmental science concentrations.”

The brainchild of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society’s “Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan,” the track’s coursework will cover “the intersection of race, class, gender and systems of oppression with regards to environmentalism.”

According to The Brown Daily Herald, students will be required to take classes on race, class and gender inequality, and environment and inequality, research methods, and policy and politics.

A new course, “Equity and the Environment: Movements, Scholarship, Solutions,” will examine the history of the environmental justice movement “as well as view environmentalism through the lens of various identities.”

Predictably, some students feel the new curriculum is insufficient — they want environmental justice a part of the other “hard science” tracks.

From the article:

Both [Lauren] Maunus and {logan] Dreher believe that ENVS 0705 should be a core requirement for all concentrators, not just those pursuing the environment and inequality track. “Science is informed by culture and society,” Dreher said.

Though requiring all environmental studies concentrators to take a class relating to environmental justice would illuminate the topic for students pursuing other tracks, “logistic and bureaucratic reasons” may make it difficult to create this requirement, said Kurt Teichert, senior lecturer in environmental studies. …

Both students and faculty within IBES agree that the new track is a step in the right direction. But its creation raises questions about what additional steps IBES can take in order to attract racial, socioeconomic and gender groups historically underrepresented in the field.

“We recognize the importance of having greater diversity in our faculty,” Teichert said, adding that students hear different perspectives in courses taught by faculty with diverse backgrounds.

Maunus agrees that more faculty should be brought on from historically underrepresented groups but noted that the three IBES hires this summer “were all white men, despite the goal of having more faculty of color.”

White men hired? Again? Despite all colleges do to discourage such actions?

Read the full piece.

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MORE: Syllabus: Students ‘will participate’ in anti-oil rally for ‘decolonizing’ environment class 

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