Environmental Justice Minor

Department of Geography

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205 Carolina Hall, CB# 3220

(919) 962-8901

Elizabeth A. Olson, Chair


Gabriela Valdivia, Director of Undergraduate Studies


Nell Phillips, Undergraduate Program Administrator


The minor in Environmental Justice (EJ) focuses on the intersections of inequity, the environment, and justice. The minor introduces the field’s historical foundations in scholarship on race, inequity, and social movements with of focus on their relation to environmental concerns and provides an overview of environmental justice movement work and literature from local to global scales. The goal of the minor is to provide a starting-point for understanding the meaning, significance, and potential of environmental justice as a field of action and inquiry in relation to questions of development and social difference, and in various geographic contexts. Students who complete the minor will engage with an interdisciplinary curriculum that emphasizes intersecting ideas about landscapes, ecosystems, and environmental health with questions of race, economic production, and power inequities. Students will also use geographic approaches to space, place, and scale to conceptualize, contextualize, and analyze a wide range of environmental justice related topics, and learn about tools and political processes that can be used to address environmental justice concerns. Relevant topics include, for example, the uneven social experiences with food, water, health and land access; exposures to pollution; risks to health and wellbeing; infrastructural inequities; resource extraction; colonization; and climate change.

Required courses provide an introduction to EJ and build insight into how different people, in different contexts, have looked to environmental justice framing and practices for inspiration in social and community movements, justice-oriented governance, formal state and inter-state regulatory bodies, and planning for environmental change.

Department Programs



Graduate Programs


In addition to the program requirements listed below, students must:

  • take at least nine hours of their minor "core" requirements at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 12 hours of C or better in the minor (some minors require more)

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

A minimum of 4 courses (12 credit hours) is required to complete the minor. 

Core Requirements
GEOG 240Introduction to Environmental Justice3
GEOG 435Global Environmental Justice3
One elective course from List One (see below)3
One elective course from either List One or List Two (see below)3
Total Hours12

List One

GEOG 125Cultural Landscapes3
GEOG 232Agriculture, Food, and Society3
GEOG 259Society and Environment in Latin America3
GEOG 262Geography of North Carolina3
GEOG 266Society and Environment in Southeast Asia3
GEOG 281Ethnographies of Globalization: From 'Culture' to Decolonization3
GEOG 414Climate Change3
GEOG 436Governance, Institutions, and Global Environmental Change3
GEOG 437Social Vulnerability to Climate Change3
GEOG 446Geography of Health Care Delivery3
GEOG 451Population, Development, and the Environment3
GEOG 457Rural Latin America: Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources3
GEOG 470Political Ecology: Geographical Perspectives3
GEOG 480Liberation Geographies: The Place, Politics, and Practice of Resistance3
GEOG 542Neighborhoods and Health3
AMST 351Global Waters, American Impacts, and Critical Connections3
ANTH 335The Commons, Ecology, and Human Futures3
ANTH 439Political Ecology3
ANTH 446Poverty, Inequality, and Health3
ANTH 539Environmental Justice3
ANTH 540Planetary Crises and Ecological and Cultural Transitions3
PHIL 273Justice, Rights, and the Common Good: Philosophical Perspectives on Social and Economic Issues3
PHIL 274Race, Racism, and Social Justice: African-American Political Philosophy H3
PHIL/ENEC 368Living Things, Wilderness, and Ecosystems: An Introduction to Environmental Ethics3
SOCI 122Race and Ethnicity3
SOCI 421Enironmental Sociology3

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

List Two

AAAD/POLI 333Race and Public Policy in the United States3
ANTH/ENEC 237Food, Environment, and Sustainability3
ANTH 306Water and Inequality: Anthropological Perspectives3
COMM 375Environmental Advocacy3
ENEC 325Water Resource Management and Human Rights H3-4
ENEC 309Environmental Values and Valuation3
ENEC 350Environmental Law and Policy3
MEJO 560Environmental and Science Journalism H3
MEJO 562Environmental and Science Documentary Television3
HIST 235Native America in the 20th Century3
HIST 241History of Latinos in the United States3
HIST 273Water, Conflict, and Connection in the Middle East3
HIST 382The History of the Civil Rights Movement H3
PHIL 280Morality, Law, and Justice: Issues in Legal Philosophy H3
PHIL 364Ethics and Economics3
SOCI 411Social Movements3
or SOCI 413 Social Movements, Experiential

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

See the program page here for special opportunities.