The Environmental Justice Research Group is a community-engaged research team led by Professor Bhavna Shamasunder.
We work closely with community partners in Southern California and across the United States to study the impact of environmental injustice in low income communities and communities of color who live on the frontlines of industrial pollution and who are disproportionately impacted by exposures to chemicals in consumer products. Our research topics include neighborhood oil drilling, beauty products exposures, air pollution, and cumulative social and environmental burdens on health. We incorporate community partners in all aspects of our research and train undergraduate students in community based research.
Community-engaged research is an approach to research that centers community experiences, and crafts research questions in collaboration with communities most affected by an issue. It means working cooperatively with groups of people connected by a common concern, interest, or circumstance with regard to problems affecting their well-being. We partner with frontline groups, residents, and community organizations to amplify the voices of community members and make sure the research data clearly reflects their lived experiences. An important part of community-engaged research is report-back, which means that we share results with community partners and participants in accessible formats.
Environmental justice is the effort towards building healthy and safe environments without pollution or environmental hazards for all people no matter their race, income, ethnicity, or any other aspect of their identity. The environmental justice movement works against the disproportionate harm and environmental burdens that BIPOC communities face and acknowledges that this environmental racism is rooted in the historical context and present day continuation of racism and colonialism. This fight has been led by grassroots efforts and is in collaboration with a number of other movements including workers rights, civil rights, environmentalism, and feminism.