SLC Environmental Justice theme


The Sustainability Leadership Council (SLC) was formally announced on Earth Day 2019 and charged with providing advice and recommendations to university leaders on policies, programs, and initiatives that will build a greater role for Johns Hopkins in teaching, research, and leadership focusing on sustainability. On April 9th, the SLC hosted its 2nd Annual Symposium, “Collective Action for Environmental Justice” as a virtual eventan exciting opportunity for members of the Johns Hopkins community to come together and discuss sustainability issues as they relate to the university, our broader community, and the planet. Session details can be found below.

Welcome remarks from SLC Co-Chairs Peter Winch and Bob McLean.

The SLC is pleased to announce the participation of Dr. Carolyn Finney as the keynote speaker for 2nd Annual SLC Symposium. Dr. Finney is a storyteller, author, and cultural geographer whose work is grounded in awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action.

Dr. Finney has held faculty positions at Wellesley, UC Berkeley, and the University of Kentucky and is currently a Scholar-in-Residence at Middlebury College. She is the author of multiple publications including “Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors.” We are thrilled to begin the Symposium with Dr. Finney’s address and look forward to the discussion and thought-sharing to follow.

Dr. Katrina Caldwell, Chief Diversity Officer at the Johns Hopkins University, will served as moderator for the keynote and follow up Q&A. Dr. Caldwell has more than 26 years of progressive leadership experience in higher education, with a focus on strategic planning and implementation. Dr. Caldwell holds a Ph.D and master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College. Prior to accepting the role of CDO at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Caldwell served as University of Mississippi’s first vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement beginning for three years, beginning in 2017. 

A recording of the session can be found in the Hopkins@Home library here.

An update from SLC leadership and  Doug Voigt, Urban Design & Planning Partner at Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill on the university’s emerging Sustainability Plan development process.

5 minute break.

Representatives of three affiliate groups presented on projects with an Environmental Justice focus concluding in a group panel discussion.

(1) Ecological Design Collective | Dr. Nicole Labruto & Dr. Anand Pandian

The Sustainable Design Practicum trains students to create conditions for collaborative social change through collective and relational ecological design practices. We build Fellows’ capacity to think critically and ecologically in order to design sustainable interventions, through multiple modes of learning: (1) practical, real-world problem-solving with organizations working to improve social and ecological outcomes in the Baltimore area, (2) academic- and practitioner-guided methodological instruction and collaborative exploration of these methods, and (3) interdisciplinary sustainable design theory and human-centered design process. Fellows are partnered with local organizations working in environment, sustainability, and design to implement a project throughout the academic year through participatory design methods. In 2020-21, the Practicum is partnering with two Black-led environmental organizations in Baltimore, the Baltimore Compost Collective and Black Yield Institute, to co-design and implement environmental justice solutions.

(2) SOURCE & Sustainability Circle | Krithika Pennathur, Kristina Iligan, & Keilah Jacques

This past year, Krithika and Keilah led the design of creating an environmental justice education series, with a unique component of the sustainability circle. The conceptual model for this series involved centering social justice theory, community voices on environmental justice, and having a co-collaborative learning approach from student facilitators and participants. By broadening our definition of sustainability, this series advocated for environmental justice to be integral to those conversations so we can push for community care. 

(3) Center for Social Concern | Romina Rojas

In this collaboration between the Office of Sustainability Eco-Reps and Center for Social Concern, the topic of environmental justice is explored through the lens of community involvement in Baltimore. CSC student organizations and community partners were interviewed to discuss their involvement with the community and how they may have a role in promoting environmental justice in Baltimore. The purpose of this project is to explore the interdisciplinarity of environmental justice, as the topic can be thought of through community service, advocacy work, and even other social issues.

We will also hear briefly from members of the SLC Steering Committee on the council’s ongoing projects to address Environmental Justice. Please find supporting documents linked below:

(1) Environmental Justice Scope Paper

(2) Environmental Justice Working Group Charter

Closing remarks from SLC Co-Chairs Peter Winch and Bob McLean