2017-2018 Undergraduate Bulletin

Environmental Justice Minor

The Environmental Justice minor educates students about the need to provide for human well-being while conserving the natural resources and ecological balance necessary to meet the needs of current and future generations. Using an interdisciplinary framework, the minor introduces students to the interdependent problems of sustainability such as climate change, social, economic and environmental inequalities, pollution and public health concerns that are affecting our city, society, and planet today. Students of the minor will learn the importance of working towards sustainable development and the equitable distribution of environmental benefits and harms that constitutes environmental justice. Through the minor’s interdisciplinary approach, students will develop an understanding of the intricate networks that link together people, cultures, societies, and environments. In the process, they will build the critical thinking and communication skills necessary to share their understanding of the complexities of sustainability, to enter the increasing number of careers and graduate programs requiring these multidisciplinary skills, and to become more effective contributors to society.

Learning Outcomes. Students will:

  • Understand the basic concepts, issues, and debates surrounding sustainability, sustainable development, and environmental justice.
  • Understand how different academic disciplines approach and contribute knowledge to topics related to Sustainability and Environmental Justice, such as environmental political and economic initiatives, social movements, chemical processes, urban planning, artistic works, and ethical considerations of policies and behaviors.
  • Apply such analytical skills as qualitative and quantitative reasoning and critical thinking to interpret a broad array of problems and conditions effecting the environment and human habitats.
  • Think critically about sustainability and environmental justice issues in society, such as global climate change, pollution, environmental racism, the scarcity of natural resources, and public health concerns resulting from environmental conditions.
  • Analyze best practices and policies for sustainability, reflect on how to use them in their everyday lives, and understand their implications for various communities and groups (racial, ethnic, national, class, gender, etc.).

Rationale. The world around us seems to be changing faster and faster, and in ways that are becoming more and more unpredictable and difficult to understand. Among the many phenomena that people in academia, government, the health industry, private business, and other fields are trying to make sense of is our environment and the limits of sustainability. The majority of scientists are attributing strange weather patterns to global warming, while other researchers are identifying how social, political, and economic inequalities are leading to disparities in such environmental matters as water and air quality. Some citizens are forming social movements to correct injustices occurring in society and to create “sustainable” ways of living, while others investigate environmental crimes and search for alternative sources of energy. Through an approach that uses multiple disciplines, the Sustainability and Environmental Justice minor aims to provide students with an understanding of these and other important issues affecting our world Since issues of sustainability and environmental problems are increasingly becoming a part of our daily lives, the legal and health industries, law enforcement, government, and the non-profit and private sectors are all restructuring and expanding to address these concerns. The minor in Sustainability and Environmental Justice will complement and enrich students’ studies at the College by informing them about the diverse frameworks employed to discuss and analyze these problems, and, thus better prepare them for a world in which changing environment is a fundamental aspect of everyday life.

Credits required. 18

Minor coordinator. Professor Sandra Swenson, Department of Sciences (212-237-8820, sswenson@jjay.cuny.edu)

Requirements. Students take two required courses and four elective courses to complete the minor. A maximum of two courses can overlap with a student’s major, other minors or programs.

Part One. Required Courses

SUS 200Introduction to Sustainability Studies

SUS 300Environmental Justice

Total Credit Hours: 6

Part Two. Electives

Select four

AFR 227Community-based Approaches to Justice


AFR 317Environmental Racism


ART 122Eco Art and Design


ECO 260Environmental Economics, Regulation and Policy


ECO 333Sustainability: Preserving the Earth as Human Habitat


ISP 110When Nature Roars: Global Catastrophe & Responsibility


LIT 348Native American Literature


LIT 366Writing Nature: Literature and Ecology


PHI 214Environmental Ethics


SCI 112Environmental Science: A Focus on Sustainability


SCI 222Ecology of the Five Boroughs


SOC 252Environmental Sociology


SOC 364Food Justice


SUS 240Environmental Crime

SUS 280Selected Topics in Sustainability and Environmental Justice

Total Credit Hours: 12

Total Credit Hours: 18