The Communications Office
Monica White headshot in a colorful dress in front of tall sunflower plants

White, an Andrew Carnegie Fellow, is the Distinguished Chair of Integrated Environmental Studies and associate professor of environmental justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Occidental College is pleased to welcome Monica M. White for a two-day campus residency Feb. 29-March 1. On Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. in Choi Auditorium, she will present a free public lecture titled “WE Stayed: Agriculture, Activism, and the Southern Black Rural Families Who Kept the Land.” She will also visit classrooms to talk with students while on campus.

White’s research investigates Black grassroots organizations that are engaged in the development of sustainable, community-based food systems as a strategic response to issues of hunger and food inaccessibility in both contemporary times and the 20th century. In addition to her scholarship, and in collaboration with the National Black Food and Justice Alliance, White serves as the Director of the HBCU Project, to facilitate the development of centers for agroecology at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

White is an Andrew Carnegie Fellow for 2022-24, which puts her in an exceptional group of established and emerging humanities scholars that are strengthening U.S. democracy, driving technological and cultural creativity, exploring global connections and global ruptures, and improving natural and human environments.

White’s first book, Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement (University of North Carolina Press, 2019) received the First Book Award from the Association of Association for the Study of Food in Society, the Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award from the Division of Race and Ethnic Minorities Section of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and an Honored Book Award from the Gendered Perspectives section of the Association of American Geographers.

White has received a multi-year, multi-million dollar USDA research grant to study food insecurity in Michigan. She has also received several teaching and service awards, including Honored Instructor, UW-Madison Division of Housing; the Michigan Sociological Association Marvin Olsen Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Sociology in Michigan; the Outstanding Woman of Color, University of Wisconsin-Madison; and the Vilas Early Career Investigator Award from the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

White is past president of the Board of Directors for the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. She is the first Black woman to earn tenure in both the College of Agricultural Life Sciences (established 1889) and the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies (established 1970), to which she is jointly appointed. As the founding director of the Office of Environmental Justice and Engagement (OEJ) at UW-Madison, White works toward bridging the gap between the university and the broader community by connecting faculty and students to community-based organizations that are working in areas of environmental/food/land justice toward their mutual benefit.

Created by Occidental’s Black Alumni Organization (BAO), the Stafford Ellison Wright Endowment enables distinguished Black scholars, artists, elected officials, and others to spend time in residence at Occidental each year. BAO members believe that a student’s educational experience will be enriched by in-depth contact with individuals who serve as symbols of excellence.

The Endowment honors Occidental’s first Black graduates, all members of the Class of 1952: Dr. Janet Stafford, George F. Ellison, and Barbara Bowman Wright.