Environmental justice and equity issues: In our backyards and beyond. Conference Proceeding uri icon



  • This paper presents three models for integrating environmental justice topics into environmental / civil engineering courses. The first model utilizes a qualitative perspective, based on a video recording of the community panel at the 2019 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference. This panel provides numerous examples of environmental justice issues from the lived perspective of residents, including issues associated with industrial air pollutants from Tonawanda Coke in New York and drinking water in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Flint, Michigan. Segments of this video were integrated into a fall 2020 course for first-year civil engineering students, in relation to the assignments on ethics and sustainability. The details of these assignments and an analysis of student learning are provided. A second model studied the Flint water system disaster in the context of learning about community resilience and systemic racism within a senior/graduate level Civil Engineering Systems course. The decades-old discriminatory practices in housing (redlining, racist mortgage covenants) were discussed. Student perspectives based on the threaded discussion posts and a written assignment provide evidence of the effectiveness of this approach for learning about how non-technical factors are important in determining public infrastructure performance. A third model recommends the use of environmental justice mapping tools, which may be appropriate in a broad range of courses. Examples are provided, but have not yet been used by the authors. These examples present ideas to spur the integration of environmental justice topics into civil and environmental engineering courses, while also inviting programs to more broadly consider an intentional across-the-curriculum approach.

publication date

  • July 26, 2021

Date in CU Experts

  • December 13, 2021 1:20 AM

Full Author List

  • Bielefeldt A; Silverstein J

author count

  • 2