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Certificate Programs
Environmental Justice and Inequality

The world needs interdisciplinary thinkers to tackle environmental challenges faced by marginalized communities.

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The Certificate of Advanced Study in Environmental Justice and Inequality is designed to equip people interested in social and justice issues, including environmental professionals, community leaders, and advocates, with the analytical skills to deeply engage existing research and evidence on the unique environmental vulnerabilities faced by marginalized communities. This engagement uses a theory and case-based grounding in the structural and systemic factors that generate and perpetuate these inequities. The program's interdisciplinary approach includes tools and methods drawn from geography, sociology, environmental and public health, policy and law, sustainability science, and critical race theory. It builds upon these frameworks to develop new strategies for equitable and liberatory practice.


Program Learning Outcomes

Students in our fully online program will develop leadership skills in the following areas:

  1. Analyze connections among political, economic, and social forces and describe how these forces act in concert to shape environments

  2. Apply environmental justice frameworks to sustainability and environmental issues

  3. Evaluate the claims and structures that shape environmental justice movements and marginalized communities

  4. Critique the strategies and frameworks used to research environmental justice and inequalities

  5. Evaluate the roles of law, policy, and governance in creating environmental justice and addressing environmental inequality at different scales

  6. Formulate and communicate strategies linking research on environmental inequalities to concrete actions

Earn our Certificate of Advanced Study and Step-Up Your Credentials (3 courses)*

The certificate of advanced study in Environmental Leadership requires the completion of three courses:

This course provides legal, policy and management tools to understand and advance environmental justice. The approach is interdisciplinary and includes analytical tools used in geography, environmental and public health, policy and law, and critical race theory. The course will expose students to the unique environmental vulnerabilities that marginalized communities are at heightened exposure to, including toxics siting, public health disparities and food access, while featuring pathways towards building sustainable and just societies.

This course examines environmental and social justice conflicts from a global/ international perspective. We discuss distributional justice issues of hazardous waste sites around the world and related procedural injustices in siting, operation, and human rights concerns. Through case studies and research, students analyze crucial processes and relations generating environmental inequalities at different scales, and investigate how economies’ extractive activities generate conflicts and resistance across the world. Learning activities include participating on a course discussion board, conducting interviews, engaging in media analyses, peer review, mini group projects, journal reflections, and a final presentation.

This graduate-level, seminar-style course focuses on how environmental inequalities are operationalized and measured in research and public policy contexts. Since the overarching goal of environmental justice effort is to move toward a world with socially and environmentally equitable outcomes, the methods of environmental inequality are based on what is necessary to foster such change: engagement of communities and cultivation of capacity to understand and respond to environmental concerns; moral and empirically sound collaborations, which presuppose methodological rigor; and the goal of making a visible and positive difference for communities. This course uses synchronous and asynchronous methods to review contributions by community-based and social theory leaders; frameworks for structuring and maintaining community ties; and ethical considerations for working with indigenous and other historically colonized communities. It offers examples of operationalization with a focus on public health research.

All courses are offered online and designed to accommodate working professionals' schedules. Course activities include readings, instructor-developed video presentations and podcasts, guided exercises, online discussions, and completion of class exercises toward a final project. Students regularly engage with the professor in online discussions, synchronous learning sessions, and phone or online office hours.

* We understand flexibility is important. Want to test the waters and enroll in just one course? No worries! Pick the course that sounds most interesting and click "register for a course."


Headshot of Lemir TeronDr. Lemir Teron, Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, ESF;

Dr. Lemir Teron is an assistant professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry in the Department of Environmental Studies.  His research focuses on urban sustainability, energy policy and environmental justice.  Dr. Teron was awarded the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Member for Teaching Excellence Award by the SUNY ESF Undergraduate Student Association.  He received a 2020 Unsung Hero Award at the 35th Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in Syracuse, New York for his commitment to racial and environmental justice.  Dr. Teron earned his PhD from the University of Delaware and completed a NOAA supported postdoc at the Environmental Cooperative Science Center at Florida A&M University.   

Headshot of Michael MikulewiczDr. Michael Mikulewicz, Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, ESF;

Michael is a critical geographer who studies the intersecting social, economic and political inequalities caused by the impacts of, and our responses to, climate change and other environmental issues. His current research is guided by the concepts of climate & environmental justice, adaptation, post-politics, resilience, urban sustainability, and intersectionality.

Michael is the co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Climate Justice and the forthcoming Climate Justice in the Majority World, an edited collection of research on climate equity by scholars from the Global South. He has published his work in Climate and Development, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Geoforum, Area, New Political Economy, The Lancet Planetary Health, among others. Michael obtained his PhD in Human Geography from the University of Manchester, UK. Before joining ESF, he worked at the Mary Robinson Centre for Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland.

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Our Open Academy team can answer questions about our certificate of advanced study.