Environmental Justice & Community Resilience

The Environmental Justice & Community Resilience Program (EJCR) is a new, interdisciplinary and community engagement initiative sponsored by the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Office of Sustainability. The EJCR program will provide a gathering space and support network facilitating action research partnerships grounded in environmental justice and committed to forging diverse campus-community collaborations. Many years of lively conversations linking environmental justice curricula with engaged scholarship reached a pivotal convergence in 2015 with the convening of Swarthmore’s first “Sustainability Charrette,” a campus-wide, strategic visioning workshop that brought together students, faculty, staff, board members, alums, and community partners to learn from invited experts in the field and to collectively brainstorm ideas for moving the college forward. A key recommendation that emerged from the Charrette was to establish a “center dedicated to environmental sustainability aligned with the advancement of social justice.” The EJCR represents the newest constellation of these historical commitments and aspirations. In alignment with the College’s mission to advance critically-engaged scholarship, racial and gender justice, and purposeful, campus-community collaborations with local partners and beyond, Giovanna Di Chiro, Professor of Environmental Studies and former Lang Visiting Professor for Issues of Social Change will serve as the EJCR program’s first faculty coordinator.


Looking Back, Moving Forward: Law, Policy & Environmental Justice Conference

April 22-23, 2022

Looking Back, Moving Forward is a 2-day virtual conference critically examining the past, present, and potential future roles of the law and legal strategies to advance environmental justice (EJ) policy and action. The conference takes as its starting point the 30-year struggle by the renowned EJ group CRCQL (Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living) to shut down the nation’s largest waste incinerator in Chester, PA. Drawing on the lessons learned from CRCQL’s ongoing organizing against environmental racism, our panelists will expand the conversation to explore new and exciting approaches to EJ law and policy-making being used by grassroots EJ movements more broadly.

The conference’s three exciting panels bring together EJ activists, attorneys, and scholars to reflect on the ways that communities, organizations, and thought-leaders are exploring creative and visionary strategies for moving EJ policy and action forward. Some of the topics we will delve into include multi-racial and cross-class coalition-building, community, solidarity and just transition lawyering, and recent steps such as the formation of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the Justice40 initiative to include the voices, perspectives, and expertise of environmental justice communities in the federal policy-making process.

For complete information on panels, speakers and topics as well as to register visit our webinar page.

This conference is co-organized by Giovanna Di Chiro (Swarthmore College), Zulene Mayfield (CRCQL) and Christopher Mele (University of Buffalo). It is co-sponsored by the Environmental Justice & Community Resilience Program, the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Office of Sustainability at Swarthmore College as well as the Baldy Center for Law & Policy and Digital Scholarship Studio& Network at the University at Buffalo. 


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Environmental Justice & Community Resilience Contact

Giovanna Di Chiro

Professor of Environmental Studies
Parrish West 217