With the Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, the State Policy Program has initiated three environmental justice research community-building projects. The first brings environmental justice experts to Duke to present research in progress and is intended to build momentum for the second project, an interdisciplinary workshop on environmental justice to address three questions:
- What do we already know about the causes of environmental inequality and what do we still need to know?
- What are the prevailing discourses of environmental justice, how do they affect research and policy, and how are such discourses changing?
- What are the prevailing policies and strategies for addressing or redressing environmental inequities and injustices and how should we assess their efficacy?
The third project is a collaboration with a local Durham, North Carolina, group—Communities in Partnership—the University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State that is aimed at understanding and addressing environmental justice issues in the Old East Durham neighborhood. The project has four community-driven components:
- Spatial analysis of historic businesses, brownfield locations, public housing, housing affordability, and other factors related to environmental justice concerns using a research method called ground trothing in which community members “correct” spatial data and provide prior-use information
- Photographic depictions by community members of challenges and opportunities they face in changing their neighborhood
- Walkshops, in which community members walk their neighborhood with a specific theme in mind, for example, environment and health
- Identification of policy mechanisms—for example, community-based land trusts and community benefits agreements with brownfield redevelopers—to address community-prioritized environmental justice issues.