Environmental Justice Working Group

Mission Statement: The main goal of the Environmental Justice Working Group is to create space for engaged interdisciplinary scholarship, training, and teaching, and community-building around issues of environmental injustice. They aim to make Colorado State a central node for environmental justice in the American West. They work to build a rich and collaborative community of scholars, practitioners, non-profit partners, and community members passionate about building a better society, where all people can feel safe and healthy where they live, work, and play and where our socio-economic systems serve and sustain our planet.


The Environmental Justice Working Group began as a SoGES Global Challenge Research Team in 2014 and was established as a SoGES Working Group in 2017. They are a multidisciplinary group of engaged scholars and practitioners concerned with examining the drivers of and solutions to environmental inequity and injustice. They create academic and public spaces for discussing and examining environmental justice issues, particularly through the lens of the six research areas of SoGES (and beyond). Their organizational aim is to bridge individuals and organizations engaged in environmental justice research and teaching across disciplines, between academics and activists, locally, regionally, and globally. They do this by encouraging engaged and policy-relevant research, often showcased via carefully crafted events that highlight promising environmental justice work being conducted at CSU, in the wider Fort Collins community, in the U.S., and globally. Their most successful examples to date are Spring 2017 ‘Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene’ Symposium and the Fall 2017 ‘Stories of Water Equity and Environmental Justice’ Symposium, co-hosted with the CSU Water Center. They also produce written research productstranslating and as with their roundtables, symposia, and similar events. By creating these spaces for community-based research and engagement, the Environmental Justice Working Group aims to make a model campus for environmental justice, where they display how to help people across departments and research areas find common ground for future interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration and community-based work.

What is EJ?

Environmental Justice is the view that all people deserve a healthy and safe environment in which to live, work, and play – regardless of their race/ethnicity, their class status, their age, their gender, their citizenship, and other social variables. Hundreds of studies have established that environmental injustice is a persistent and systemic problem around the world, where "ethnic minorities, indigenous persons, people of color, and low-income communities confront a higher burden of environmental exposure from air, water, and soil pollution from industrialization, militarization, and consumer practices." Environmental justice researchers and practitioners focus on building more equitable, safe, and sustainable systems that will create more environmental equity. Importantly, biodiversity and ecological well-being are increasingly vital parts of environmental justice.

Aspects of environmental justice include: Distributive justice (equitable exposures to environmental risks and hazards as well as benefits); procedural equity (opportunities for meaningful participation in decision-making for all stakeholders); recognition justice (recognizing the value and rights of various groups, such as tribal populations and ecosystems themselves); and restorative justice (working to restore ecological systems and human communities).

Working Group Leaders/Contacts:

Neil Grigg – Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Melinda Laituri (co-founder) – Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability

Sheryl Magzaman - Assistant Professor, Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Stephanie Malin (co-founder) – Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

Josh Sbicca – Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

Dimitris Stevis (co-founder) – Professor, Department of Political Science

Kathryn Powlen – Graduate Student, Human Dimensions of Natural Resource

Stacia Ryder – PhD candidate, Department of Sociology

Carey Weiner – Extension Specialist, Powerhouse Energy Campus

Environmental Justice working group a glance:

  • Consists of over 150 members from academic and practitioner/community organizations
  • Incorporate environmental justice into over 12 courses taught by their organization’s leaders
  • Hosted over 300 attendees for Spring 2016 ‘Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene’ Symposium
    • Invited book proposal based on ‘Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene’ Symposium
  • Hosted 8 Environmental justice roundtables: Energy Justice; Food Justice; Climate Justice; Health Justice; Just Biodiversity; Water Justice; Built Environment Justice; Governance Justice
    • Authored Environmental Justice Roundtable Briefs (white papers) on each event
  • Co-hosted Fall 2017 ‘Stories of Water Equity and Environmental Justice’ Symposium with CSU Water Center
  • Co-sponsored Spring 2015 Front Range Environmental Governance Workshop with the Environmental Governance Working Group
  • Hosted or co-hosted 14 invited speakers (2014-present)
  • Hosted 6 Java & Justice Graduate Seminars (2015-present)

Getting Involved:

To find out more, please visit: http://environmentaljustice.colostate.edu/. For any questions or to contact the Environmental Justice Working Group regarding co-sponsoring any events, please email: environmentaljusticecsu@gmail.com