Environmental & Climate Justice Studies


UC Santa Barbara


defending environments & the climate


The eye of super typhoon Maysak, March 31, 2015

[PHOTO: NASA 2013]


defending environments & the climate

corporate Caracas skyline with No Carbon graffiti

[PHOTO: Widick 2006]

Columbia Glacier, NASA HYPERWALL


defending environments & the climate

[PHOTO: NASA 2014]

Night Lights


defending environments & the climate

[PHOTO: NASA 2012]

Signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Paris, 2015


defending environments & the climate

[PHOTO: Widick 2015]

World Social Forum 6 Street Mural, Caracas, Venezuela


defending environments & the climate

[PHOTO: Widick 2006]



defending environments & the climate

[PHOTO: Widick 2009]

literary and social

Pipeline Protest, Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, March10, 2017


defending environments & the climate

[PHOTO: Jim Dougherty 2017]



WELCOME to the EJ/CJ Digital Hub, a project of the Environmental & Climate Justice Studies Research Hub (EJ/CJ) at UCSB’s Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies — working to advance scholar-activism across the horizon of globalization, in defense of vulnerable human communities, fragile environments and a just climate future.

Today’s most pressing environmental problems come to us nested inside an historical moment characterized by growing racial and gender formations of economic inequality, increasingly neoliberal and authoritarian political institutions, degradation of human rights and public discourse, and pernicious forms of institutional violence that cut across and exacerbate each of these concerns.

EJ/CJ brings together scholars to engage with these global drivers of environmental and climate crisis and investigate their deep structures and histories. We produce critical knowledges at the intersection of the Humanities and Social Sciences, build transformative knowledge networks that bridge academic, social movement, and policy domains, and actively intervene publicly in each of these crucial zones of conflict.

EJ/CJ is currently comprised of seven Constituent Projects and convenes UCSB scholars Liz Carlisle, Alenda Chang, Sylvia Cifuentes, Coyotecatl Contreras, Julia Fine, John Foran, Lauren Gifford, Summer Gray, Ken Hiltner, Emily Hite, Michael Ionnides, Amra Solomon J., Aleksander Korvelas, Julie K. Maldonado, Miranda O’Brian, David Pellow, Elana Resnick, and Richard Widick.

If you think that your work can contribute to our mission of building the UC community of Environmental and Climate Justice Studies, we invite you to contact us and tell us how you would like to get involved.

Please scroll down and visit our Constituent Projects, our news and events calendars, and our pathways into emergent environmental/climate governance and social movements at every scale, as well as our growing archives of EJ/CJ films, photography, literature, and manifestos from around the world.


Live Virtual Sessions were convened May 18 — 21, 2022


October 4 — 25, 2021


What is driving environmental & climate injustice?

Growing economic and environmental inequality associated with ongoing world-economic system expansion (globalization) is exacerbating environmental problems and politics, inhibiting effective justice-driven local self-governance as well as the massive collective national and international responses that the Nations have decided are necessary, especially as concerns climate governance (i.e., the 2015 Paris Agreement).

The end result? … an accumulation of local, place-based environmental grievances across the horizon of globalization.

At each of these places, individual and collective political demands emerge as a growing cry for fair governance and equitable sharing of the social and environmental costs of economic activity.

Such demands set the stage for democratic renewal at every scale, from local to global, across that same horizon.

On the global scale, take for example the emergence of international environmental self-governance.

From the UN’s 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, which produced the Stockholm Declaration and the UN Report on the Human Environment, to the UN’s 1982 World Charter for Nature, its 1987 Brundtland Report (Our Common Future), its 1992 Rio Earth Summit (Rio Declaration on Environment & Development; Agenda 21; United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), its 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and finally its 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the peoples and nations of planet earth have grown increasingly adept at self-organizing international spaces for the collective management of environmental problems.

But how well do these international efforts understand and respond to the role of inequalities—of accumulated wealth and power; of structural racism and sexism—in driving the carbon-fueled economic expansion and the consequent accumulation of environmental problems? and how effectively have the policy responses they generate actually mitigated the damages or ameliorated the consequent suffering of the multitudes?

What accounts for the common disconnect between those who have benefitted the most from carbon maldevelopment and those who suffer the worst of its effects?

Consider how UN-led stewardship of the post-war economy championed free trade globalization, effectively ramping up global economic productivity and churning out previously undreamed of wealth—but which expansion also produced today’s dramatic socio-economic and ultimately environmental and climate inequalities.

Are today’s ongoing UN environment and climate initiatives reproducing those same inequalities in the long term (re)distribution of 21st century environmental values?

And if so, does that mean that we have learned nothing from the 20th century? — from the myriad novels and films and poems and essays of the colonized, conquered and cajoled? or from the colonizers and conquerers themselves?

How can we as scholar-activists learn to better hear and feel the voices ringing out from these places of conflict?

Questions of meaning, interpretation and translation, integral to the Humanities but marginalized in the Social Sciences, will be crucial tools in the coming years and decades of social, environmental and climate struggle.

We will thus need more than our social sciences and histories, more than our literatures and philosophies.

We will need new hybrid forms of engagement and understanding for a new century of intersectional struggles, we will need to remember, and we will need time.

EJ/CJ proceeds from a profound belief that, with insight and perspective garnered from both the Social Sciences and the Humanities, our projects and these pages can contribute to re-engineering the carbon-fueled cultural economies that are currently devastating our shared environments and plunging our common climate into chaos.



The Global Environmental Justice Project


The Environmental Humanities Initiative


Transformative Educational Resources for Climate Action


The International Institute of Climate Action & Theory

Eco Vista

Taking The Community Of Isla Vista Into The Future


Eco Vista Climate Justice Press

QUOTE:  Our economy is broken, with hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top. The number of billionaires has doubled since the financial crisis and their fortunes grow by $2.5bn a day, yet the super-rich and corporations are paying lower rates of tax than they have in decades. The human costs – children without teachers, clinics without medicines – are huge. Piecemeal private services punish poor people and privilege elites. Women suffer the most, and are left to fill the gaps in public services with many hours of unpaid care. We need to transform our economies to deliver universal health, education and other public services. To make this possible, the richest people and corporations should pay their fair share of tax. This will drive a dramatic reduction in the gap between rich and poor and between women and men (OXFAM Report, January 2019, p. 2). Download the OXFAM Report



CHESC 2020 – The California Higher Education Conference, July 6 – 10, 2020


Understanding the outsized role of the so-called Carbon Majors is a crucial task for environmental & climate justice studies …

{ see our numbered footnotes to selected carbon majors below }


Learn about Chevron/Texaco’s toxic legacy in Richmond, California


Read about Chevron’s 2012 Refinery Explosion in Richmond, CA.


Read about Chevron/Texaco in Ecuador – decades of destruction and struggle


Read the 2011 UNEP report detailing Shell’s history in the Niger river delta.


Saudi Aramco, the state oil company of Saudi Arabia, is the worlds most profitable company (NYT 2019).


Read about British Petroleum’s Gulf Oil Spill …

Read more about the carbon majors

Bailing out the carbon majors during the covid-19 recession?  Read more >>>


At the convergence of Peoples, Labor, and Environmental Movements, where environmental policy is being made at every scale


Voluntary organizations keeping watch on the political sphere at every scale


Environmental & Climate Justice Films

Photography in the Conflict Zones


THIS IS INEQUALITY AT THE BOILING POINT – a New York Times photo essay by Sonimi Sengupta, August 7, 2020


t was a record 125 degrees Fahrenheit in Baghdad in July, and 100 degrees above the Arctic Circle this June. Australia shattered its summer heat records as wildfires, fueled by prolonged drought, turned the sky fever red.

For 150 years of industrialization, the combustion of coal, oil and gas has steadily released heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, driving up average global temperatures and setting heat records. Nearly everywhere around the world, heat waves are more frequent and longer lasting than they were 70 years ago.

But a hotter planet does not hurt equally. If you’re poor and marginalized, you’re likely to be much more vulnerable to extreme heat. …” View the NYT Photo Essay >>>

CONFLICT ZONE: The Tar Sands Industrial Region of Alberta, Canada

Garth Lenz, Canadian photographer

TED Talk & Slide Show The True Cost of Oil (revealing the extent of and the dangers of the tar sands industrial transformation of the Canadian heartland).

The photography of Garth Lenz.

Environmental Literature

Caroline Matilda Kirkland:

A New Home, Who’ll Follow? Or, Glimpses of Western Life (1839) —

Henry David Thoreau:

— Walden (1854) —

George Marsh:

— Man and Nature (1864) —

Frederick Jackson Turner:

The Frontier in American History (book, 1893) —

The Significance of the Frontier in American History (paper, 1893) —

John Muir:

—  My first summer in the Sierra (1911) —

A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf (1916) —

Environmental & Climate Justice Manifestos from around the world!

“As we hurtle into the twenty-first
century, oil is still King. But it does
not rule benevolently. Rather, the
reign of those who control the
politics of petroleum continues to
undermine democracy while fostering
human rights violations and
environmental disasters across the
Earth …”  Read more here.

2004 – The Climate Justice Declaration was penned at the conference titled  “Just Climate? Pursuing Environmental Justice in the Face of Global Climate Change” — convened by the Environmental Justice Initiative at the University of Michigan.  Read it here


The Environmental & Climate Justice Studies Research Hub

A project at the Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies, University of California.


Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies

“Providing an intellectual and programmatic focus for the University’s activities in global, international, and area studies.

While the Center is administratively located in the Division of Social Sciences in the College of Letters and Sciences, the Center’s Executive Committee includes faculty from across UCSB’s Colleges and Schools.”

Girvetz Hall, rooms 2317-2328, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-2150

Institute For Social, Economic and Behavioral Research, 2201 North Hall UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-2150

College of Letters and Science

Campus Maps

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