Bridging the Divide: Activism and Academia in the Environmental Justice Movement

Publication Year



Environmentalism, Academia, Activism, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice


Civic and Community Engagement | Environmental Studies | Leadership Studies | Politics and Social Change


This thesis will tack the rise of mainstream environmentalism and environmental justice (EJ), and then analyze the contemporary relationship between academia and these two movements, while focusing in particular on EJ. In chapter one I follow the historical roots of mainstream environmentalism and other alternative discourses that eventually led to the rise of the EJ movement. In chapter two I explore the current state of EJ and mainstream environmentalism in the U.S., focusing in particular on where EJ and mainstream diverge and converge, and where possibilities exist for future collaborations among the two movements. Finally, the third chapter analyzes the past, present and future role of academia within the EJ movement. Throughout the three chapters I will use the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) - an important EJ activist organization - as a case study to highlight EJ and mainstream environmentalism today, as well and the complexities of the academia-activism relationship within the EJ movement.

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