Skip to content

Environment and Justice in the Human Landscape

When: Wednesdays, September 21 – December 7
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm ET
West Village F, Room 020, Northeastern University | Livestream


Social justice is an essential issue to address in the human landscape. This course will explore the policies, practices, ethics, metrics, and outcomes related to achieving environmental justice, which is both an evolving field of racial equity study and policy-making, and a metaphor for pursuing racial and gender justice in many fields. Economic mitigation and social reparations will be considered. This weekly Wednesday evening presentation and discussion course is part of the Open Classroom series of Power to the People public offerings addressing approaches to pursuing social and racial equity in developing public policies in the United States and abroad. 

Presenters include faculty, community-based advocates, public officials, real estate and finance officials, and environmental policy organizations. The course is connected with the Boston Public Library Map Center’s exhibition, More or Less in Common: Environment and Justice in the Human Landscape, and to a two-day November 4-5 Dukakis Center/BPL conference on environmental justice. 

Matriculating students seeking academic credit must register for SPPUA 5225/5226, and participate in class discussions on Wednesdays from 4:35 pm to 5:50 pm. The class is also offered in conjunction with Honors section HONR3310, Racial Dialogue. Matriculating students will write short exploratory papers and a semester-long research paper. There is no final examination.

Weekly lectures and on-line presentations are open to the general public without registration.

Upcoming Sessions

Spatial and Environmental Resilience In and Around the Emerald Necklace

  • Karen Mauney-Brodek will discuss the Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s work on restoring the Muddy River, cleaning up the Fens, re-designing the entrance to Storrow Drive, carrying on the Olmsted legacy of parks and open spaces as public sites of healing, and recent community engagement efforts in Roxbury.

Ground Truth: Shaping Narratives of Environmental Justice

  • We will join the President of the Leventhal Map and Education Center of the Boston Public Library, and with a panel of invited guests, for a roundtable discussion of narratives of environmental justice, addressing how investigating historical and present-day patterns of urban inequality, documented through narrative and visual works, can bring an important perspective to efforts for climate justice advocacy.

Environmental Justice in Albaydha: The Story of a Rural Desert Community

  • As climate crises displace people around the world, what can be learned from Albaydha, a semi-nomadic rural community in Saudi Arabia whose grazing lands were destroyed by desertification? This session will examine how participatory processes informed by Social Impact Lab principles and frameworks have engaged over a thousand families in the design and implementation of a community-led resettlement initiative. The program employs sustainable building technologies and ecosystem regeneration while honoring traditional family structures and cultural practices. Lynn Zovighian and Rebecca Riccio will explain how their commitment to centering community members’ voices has led to this project being designated a national housing pilot for vulnerable communities in Saudi Arabia.

Communities Responding to Extreme Weather

  • Rev. Vernon Walker, Program Director at Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW), a Roxbury  community-based organization that engaging local communities in preparing for climate change and mitigation strategies. He is also teaching this semester at Tufts.

Real Estate Development and Climate Justice

  • The Built Environment for many represents the intersection of Climate Justice and Land Use. This session is joined by real estate developer, Longfellow Real Estate Partners and non-profit, The Urban Land Institute. They are partnering with Northeastern to launch a new Real Estate Institute within the university. Spearheaded by Jamie Peschel, Co-founder and Senior Partner of Longfellow, and several years in the making, this newly announced institute will seek to create opportunities for Northeastern students to pursue education and careers in the land use industry—roles ranging from planning and development to design and construction, and everything in-between.  Join us as we present just a sample of what the institute will offer!

Climate Justice & Sustainability Hub

  • Northeastern is committed to serving as a model of sustainability and equity, and as a catalyst to drive meaningful action. The Climate Justice and Sustainability Hub’s mission is to support this bold vision. ​Tonight, we will be joined by Exec. Director Leah Bamberger to discuss the hub’s initiatives. 

Rising Tides Conference

  • This conference explores issues of racial and social justice in the context of environmental action to address climate change. It is linked to Northeastern’s Myra Kraft Open Classroom and to an environmental justice map exhibition at the Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library. Engaging with civic community action toward emerging environmental policies brings forward issues of justice and social equality. This conference will address how citizens engage with environmental governance and how policymakers engage with equitable green development. Our keynote speaker is Senator Edward Markey, whose new federal climate legislation includes $60 billion to address issues of climate justice brought on by decades of racial, economic, and social discrimination.

The Promise and Progress Towards A Green New Deal for Boston

  • Members of Boston’s Green New Deal Coalition have partnered with Northeastern’s Climate Justice & Sustainability Hub to host an Open Classroom discussing the promise and progress towards Boston’s Green New Deal. Speakers include the City of Boston’s Green New Deal Director, Oliver Sellers-Garcia, members of the Boston GND Coalition, and Leah Bamberger, Director of the Hub at Northeastern. Join us afterwards for food, conversation, and to learn more about the Coalition’s member organizations!

Racial Inequality and Struggle for Equity in the Boston Public School System.

  • Our speakers will be Dr. Lindsa McIntyre, the High School Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, and 2019 Massachusetts High School Principal of the Year; Reverend Stephen Kendrick, author of Sarah’s Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston and How their Struggle of Equality Changed America (2004); and Jim Vrabel, author of A People’s History of the New Boston.

Note: This open classroom will meet in Blackman Auditorium in Ell Hall at 4:30pm.

Unfortunately, tonight’s Myra Kraft Open Classroom is cancelled due to the unavailability of our planned speaker. Tune in next semester!

Sign Up for Updates

Please note: If you are signing up for Open Classroom updates, other event-related announcements, and/or information about our programs, you will also receive our monthly newsletter. We will not distribute your contact information to any third party at any time.