Broadly defined, “Environmental Justice” is an interdisciplinary field of study that includes (but is not limited to) theories of the environment, theories of justice, environmental law and governance, environmental policy and planning, philosophy, development, sustainability, and political ecology.  More narrowly, the United States Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies."

Environmental justice emerged from an increased awareness of the disproportionately high impacts of environmental change and degradation on economically and politically disadvantaged communities. It addresses issues such as social, economic and political marginalization of minorities and low income populations.

The Graduate Certificate in Environmental Justice emphasizes the causes and consequences of the distribution of environmental problems. Students focus on why some poor and minority communities are more likely to experience a host of environmental burdens, as well as exploring the impact of that disproportionate environmental exposure. Understanding why some neighborhoods, communities, regions and countries benefit from environmental protection, while others do not, provides students with a concrete skill set and a critical perspective on environmental problems, community organizing and public participation, good governance, and research methods. Students who pursue this certificate will be well situated for careers in public policy, international relations, environmental advocacy, and environmental research.

Graduate Admission

Individuals who are not already enrolled as KU graduate students must complete an application to Graduate Studies for admission into the certificate program and submit an application fee along with the following materials:

  • A Statement of Interest in the environmental justice certificate program. This 1-2 page narrative should summarize your education, employment history, your long-term career goals, and how this certificate will help you achieve these goals.
  • Official undergraduate transcript.
  • A letter of recommendation from someone familiar with your academic work or qualified to offer judgment on your ability to undertake graduate-level work (former professor of instructor, workplace supervisor).

Current KU graduate students wishing to enroll in the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Justice program must apply through Graduate Studies and submit the required fee.  A student must be in good standing with their graduate degree program in order to participate in the certificate program.  Awarding of certificates will be handled consistent with guidelines and timing of degree awards of the Office of Graduate Studies. Completion of the certificate will appear on the graduate transcript. KU graduate students should submit the following materials:

  • A Statement of Interest in the environmental justice certificate program and its relationship to your graduate course of study.
  • An unofficial copy of your KU transcript.
  • A letter of support from your graduate degree program (your advisor or graduate director).

Please see the Admission to Graduate Study policy for additional information on admission.

Certificate students must complete 12 graduate credit hours.

Required Courses (6)
EVRN 528Environmental Justice and Public Policy3
or ISP 673 Environmental Justice
EVRN 721Environmental Regulation and Policy3
Science and Technology (Choose one) (3)
EVRN 730Environmental Toxicology3
or EVRN 750 Environmental Air Quality Assessment
or PRVM 830 Environmental Health
or EVRN 745 Environmental Data Analysis and Statistics
Policy, Society, and Ethics (Choose one) (3)
EVRN 620Environmental Politics and Policy3
or EVRN 628 The Politics of Public Health
or EVRN 701 Climate Change, Ecological Change and Social Change
or ISP 800 Indigenous Issues in the United States
or ISP 874 Natural Resource Management: Indigenous Perspectives
Total Hours12

If a certificate student is already enrolled in a graduate program in the School of Engineering or the School of Journalism and has permission from the graduate advisor, the student may also choose to take one of these courses within that school as an elective:

JOUR 580Environmental Journalism3
CE 875Solid and Hazardous Wastes3

Elective courses may have prerequisites or other requirements.  Students should consult with the graduate advisor of that department to assess whether they will be permitted to enroll in a particular class.