Reflection: Real World Applications Environmental bias - Section 1: UNIT FRAME: Environmental justice in the STEM classroom


Environmental justice is a framework that necessarily requires educators to embed environmental justice content in the real world. This can be a difficult task, and there are limited resources available for the creation of this kind of unit.  By design, the current unit contains some general resources, but is highly specific to a location in Brooklyn. For educators interested in building curriculum better tailored to a different geography, here are some promising models:

  • For educators in the United States, this link is a good starting point for general information about environmental justice in your region.
  • For another perspective on teaching environmental science through a citizen science and environmental justice lens, I recommend Catherine Salvin's excellent chemistry unit out of the Yale National Initiative or the attached bibliography out of Berkeley.  
  • Additionally, I recommend some lessons from Teaching the Leveesa curriculum project out of Columbia's Teacher College that focuses on Hurricane Katrina. 
  • Rethinkingschools has regular features that explore environmental justice; here is an article that highlights a course with a similar approach to this curriculum.
  • This article in Earthzine provides an overview of many of the themes, concepts, skills, and purposes of the lessons in this unit.  It is a quick, valuable read for teachers interested in exploring the place of social justice issues in STEM curriculum.

  Making environmental science real
  Real World Applications: Making environmental science real
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Environmental bias

Unit 3: Environmental justice
Lesson 1 of 16

Objective: Students will be able to 1) use maps to visually identify the proximity of human populations in different socio-economic classes to sources of pollution; 2) define environmental bias; 3) propose explanations for environmental bias.

Big Idea: Not all communities have equal access to healthy natural environments. How might we use maps to understand where and why unhealthy natural environments disproportionately affect members of low-income and ethnic minority groups?

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