Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene

Call for Panelists: Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene

Panel Session Organizers: Nino Antadze (University of Prince Edward Island), Lauren Gifford (University of Colorado, Boulder)

*Please note this is a panel session. You can still participate if you're already presenting in a paper session!*

Sponsors: Energy and Environment Specialty Group, TBD

Scientists argue that we have entered a new epoch in planetary history-the Anthropocene. For the first time in our planet's existence, a single species, homo sapiens, is driving planetary-scale changes (Steffen, Grinevald, Crutzen, & McNeill, 2011). Scholars also agree that the scale and intensity of the changes in the Anthropocene, and more importantly, the leading role that humans play in these changes, necessitate rethinking some of the fundamental questions about what it means to be a human, what binds us together, and how we want to live on this planet (Gibson-Graham, 2011; Palsson et al., 2013; Schmidt, Brown, & Orr, 2016). Understandings of the Anthropocene are radically changing perspectives and action "in terms of human awareness of and responsibility for a vulnerable earth" (Palsson et al., 2013, p. 4). At the same time, this irreversible global transformation has pressing and profound implications for environmental injustice, the unfair treatment of vulnerable communities through unequal distribution of environmental harms (Agyeman et al., 2016; Bullard, 1983; McGurty, 1997).

From its origins as a social movement against environmental racism, the concept of environmental justice has evolved to cover a diversity of issues (e.g., food, energy, climate, urban planning) and geographic scales (e.g., the global manifestations of environmental injustice), as well as environmental injustice claims in relation to the non-human world (Schlosberg, 2013). Global environmental justice scholarship and activism is moving beyond demands for equity in the distribution of environmental harms and benefits, toward calls for structural transformation of economic systems, and the reimagining human-environment relationships amid social, political, economic and environmental crises. This panel aims to stimulate the interdisciplinary conversation around what implications the analytical construct of "the Anthropocene" can have on environmental justice scholarship. Panel participants will propose and discuss some of the ontological, epistemological and methodological questions they deem relevant to studying environmental justice within the political and imaginative contexts of the Anthropocene.

We explicitly do not suggest possible themes, as we hope to facilitate exposure to wide ranging discussion on the broad theme of Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene. We are looking for 2-3 additional contributors to join our panel. If interested, please send your name, institutional affiliation, and a list of two or three topics that you would like to address to session organizers (nantadze@upei.ca and lauren.gifford@colorado.edu) for consideration.


Agyeman J., Schlosberg D., Craven L., et al. (2016). Trends and Directions in Environmental Justice: From Inequity to Everyday Life, Community, and Just Sustainabilities. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 41(1), 321–340. Bullard, R.D. (1983). Solid Waste Sites and the Black Houston Community. Sociological Inquiry 53(2–3), 273–288.

Gibson-Graham, J. K. (2011). A feminist project of belonging for the Anthropocene. Gender, Place & Culture, 18(1), 1–21.

McGurty, E.M. (1997). From NIMBY to Civil Rights: The Origins of the Environmental Justice Movement. Environmental History 2(3), 301–323.

Palsson, G., Szerszynski, B., Sörlin, S., Marks, J., Avril, B., Crumley, C., … Weehuizen, R. (2013). Reconceptualizing the 'Anthropos' in the Anthropocene: Integrating the social sciences and humanities in global environmental change research. Environmental Science & Policy, 28, 3–13.

Schlosberg, D. (2013). Theorising environmental justice: the expanding sphere of a discourse. Environmental Politics 22(1), 37–55.

Schmidt, J. J., Brown, P. G., & Orr, C. J. (2016). Ethics in the Anthropocene: A research agenda. The Anthropocene Review, 3(3), 188–200.

Steffen, W., Grinevald, J., Crutzen, P., & McNeill, J. (2011). The Anthropocene: conceptual and historical perspectives. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 369(1938), 842–867.