Environmental Justice Minor

The Environmental Justice minor educates students about the need to provide for human well-being while conserving the natural resources and ecological balance necessary to meet the needs of current and future generations.

Using an interdisciplinary framework, the minor introduces students to the interdependent problems of sustainability such as climate change, social, economic and environmental inequalities, pollution and public health concerns that are affecting our city, society, and planet today. Students of the minor will learn the importance of working towards sustainable development and the equitable distribution of environmental benefits and harms that constitutes environmental justice.

Through the minor’s interdisciplinary approach, students will develop an understanding of the intricate networks that link together people, cultures, societies, and environments. In the process, they will build the critical thinking and communication skills necessary to share their understanding of the complexities of sustainability, to enter the increasing number of careers and graduate programs requiring these multidisciplinary skills, and to become more effective contributors to society.

Students will:

  • Understand the basic concepts, issues, and debates surrounding sustainability, sustainable development, and environmental justice.
  • Understand how different academic disciplines approach and contribute knowledge to topics related to Sustainability and Environmental Justice, such as environmental political and economic initiatives, social movements, chemical processes, urban planning, artistic works, and ethical considerations of policies and behaviors.
  • Apply such analytical skills as qualitative and quantitative reasoning and critical thinking to interpret a broad array of problems and conditions effecting the environment and human habitats.
  • Think critically about sustainability and environmental justice issues in society, such as global climate change, pollution, environmental racism, the scarcity of natural resources, and public health concerns resulting from environmental conditions.
  • Analyze best practices and policies for sustainability, reflect on how to use them in their everyday lives, and understand their implications for various communities and groups (racial, ethnic, national, class, gender, etc.).


The world around us seems to be changing faster and faster, and in ways that are becoming more and more unpredictable and difficult to understand. Among the many phenomena that people in academia, government, the health industry, private business, and other fields are trying to make sense of is our environment and the limits of sustainability.

The majority of scientists are attributing strange weather patterns to global warming, while other researchers are identifying how social, political, and economic inequalities are leading to disparities in such environmental matters as water and air quality. Some citizens are forming social movements to correct injustices occurring in society and to create “sustainable” ways of living, while others investigate environmental crimes and search for alternative sources of energy.

Through an approach that uses multiple disciplines, the Environmental Justice minor aims to provide students with an understanding of these and other important issues affecting our world. Since issues of sustainability and environmental problems are increasingly becoming a part of our daily lives, the legal and health industries, law enforcement, government, and the non-profit and private sectors are all restructuring and expanding to address these concerns. The minor in Environmental Justice will complement and enrich students’ studies at the College by informing them about the diverse frameworks employed to discuss and analyze these problems, and, thus better prepare them for a world in which changing environment is a fundamental aspect of everyday life.


The Sustainability and Environmental Justice minor requires students to take two required courses and four elective courses to complete the minor.

Credits required: 18 

Part I. Required Courses Subtotal: 6 credits 

EJS 200: Earth Justice. Introduction to Sustainability Studies
EJS 300: Environmental Justice

Part II. Electives Subtotal: 12 credits

Choose four courses below.

AFR 227: Community-Based Approaches to Justice
AFR 317: Environmental Racism
ART 122: Eco-Art and Design
CJBA 367: Wildlife Crime
ECO 231: Global Development and Crime
ECO 260: Environmental Economics, Regulation and Policy
ECO 333: Sustainability: Preserving the Earth as Human Habitat
EJS 240: Environmental Crime
EJS 277: Professionals in Residence: Environmental Justice
EJS 280: Special Topics in Sustainability and Environmental Justice
ICJ 101: Introduction to International Criminal Justice
ISP 110: When Nature Roars: Global Catastrophe and Human Responsibility
LIT 366: Writing Nature: Literature and Ecology
LIT 384: Native American Literature
PHI 214: Environmental Ethics
SCI 112: Principles of Environmental Science*
SCI 222: Ecology of the 5 Boroughs
SOC 252: Environmental Sociology
SOC 364: Food Justice

Total credits: 18

For more information, please contact Dr. Sandra Swenson (ssweson@jjay.cuny.edu) or Dr. Jennifer Rutledge (jrutledge@jjay.cuny.edu).