As a professor of environmental studies at Swarthmore, Giovanna Di Chiro
takes issue with the idea of “impact.” Part of the higher education and nonprofit vernacular, the term conjures up images of explosions, craters, or Newton’s cradle desk toys. It is a word that, when used to describe environmental activism or an initiative, leaves out the concept of environmental justice entirely, she says.
“Activists and scholars in the environmental justice movement are committed to building relationships of collaborative engagement, grounded in reciprocity,” says Di Chiro. “We ask ourselves: For whom are our impacts positive?”
Di Chiro was the keynote speaker at the Global Environmental Justice Conference
, hosted by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) on November 15. The day-long event, part of the Environmental Justice and Health Initiative at F&ES, brought emerging scholars from around the world and from across disciplines to discuss how scholarship, social justice, and environmental management can be effectively integrated.
The conference featured panel discussions on a range of topics, including extractive industries and human rights, environmental governance, climate change adaptation, and engaging with multiple knowledge systems. Each panel discussed the human elements associated with these environmental challenges. They also discussed how marginalized groups, often most vulnerable to these challenges, are often left out of the decision-making processes.