Students of color speak on racial equity in environmental sustainability

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: This is version 1 of this Preprint.


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Tania M. Schusler, Charlie B. Espedido, Brittany K. Rivera, Melissa Hernandez, Amelia M. Howerton, Kailin Sepp, Malcolm D. Engel, Jazlyn Marcos, Bala Chaudhary


This is a preprint of an article published in Nature Sustainability. The final authenticated version is available online at: Racial and ethnic diversity in environmental sustainability advances social equity and innovation solving social-ecological crises. Yet, Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) remain underrepresented in sustainability fields despite high environmental concern. Universities provide pathways to sustainability careers and help diversify the field by making programs more equitable and inclusive for racially minoritized students. Toward this end, we interviewed undergraduate BIPOC students in interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability degree programs about their experiences. Their observations reflect a legacy of systemic racism that persists today within environmentalism. Many described motivations connecting ecological and social well-being but lamented limited interdisciplinary and global perspectives in the curriculum. Experiences of discrimination, lack of relatability, and limited discussions of race led to feeling isolated and excluded. Support networks, extracurricular participation, and BIPOC-specific opportunities improved student inclusion and belonging. BIPOC students hold knowledge unapparent to non-marginalized groups that illuminates pathways to racial equity in environmental sustainability.



Environmental Education, Environmental Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Race and Ethnicity, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Sociology, Sustainability


Diversity, education, Equity, Inclusion


Published: 2020-12-17 21:35


CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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