Activist community

SEAS continues to expand the environmental justice program with new expertise, community organizers


Source: School of Environment and Sustainable Development

Clockwise from top left are Shakara Tyler, Cedric Taylor, Justin Schrott and Michelle Martinez.

The UM School for Environment and Sustainability is expanding its environmental justice program with exciting hires, bringing new expertise and courses that will provide students with more opportunities to learn from leaders who bring real-world experience and leadership experience. real change.

SEAS was the first school in the United States to launch an environmental justice program that offered undergraduate and graduate specializations and is now home to one of the largest faculty and student bodies in the field anywhere. national. By expanding the curriculum and building on its history as a leader in environmental justice, SEAS continues to foster the educational experience that communities affected by injustice demand from universities.

SEAS welcomes the following leaders to the program:

michelle martinez (MS ’08), ddirector of the Tishman Center for Social Justice and the Environmentand SEAS lecturer

Michelle Martinez is the first director of the Tishman Center for Social Justice and the Environment. Martinez, a SEAS alumnus who studied under Professor Bunyan Bryant, will continue to build on Bryant’s legacy of activism and involvement in grassroots movements. In recent years, Martinez has participated in SEAS events and contributed to SEAS Masters projects. In her new role, she will develop new courses in empowerment, community organizing and grassroots action, as well as drive powerful initiatives that support students pursuing lifelong careers in justice. environmental and climatic. She will initiate a strategic planning process in her first year to consider the organization and growth of the new centre. Martinez’s first class will be in the winter semester of 2023.

Martinez has 15 years of experience practicing environmental justice in his hometown of Detroit. Most recently, she served as Executive Director of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition; she is a founding member of the coalition and continues to serve on the board. Michelle also serves on the board of directors of We the People Michigan and is a columnist for Planet Detroit, an online publication that provides the Detroit public with climate and environmental information.

Justin Schott (MS ’06), SEAS speaker

Justin Schott will be teaching a 3-credit graduate energy equity course this fall in addition to continuing his role as project manager of the Energy Equity Project, which is hosted by SEAS.

Prior to joining EEP, Schott served as Executive Director of EcoWorks, a Detroit nonprofit, from 2015 to 2020. He is a passionate social entrepreneur and a recognized leader in sustainability in Detroit. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Schott designed and managed the launch and operations of numerous community programs, including the Youth Energy Squad (Founder), which grew from a summer pilot project employing four students in 2009 to a partnership citywide with Detroit Public Schools Community. District. Schott also worked closely on the creation of utility programs, including the Home Energy Consulting Program, which provided home energy-efficient facilities and education to 10,500 households in its first seven months. . Schott chaired the Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm and serves on the steering committees of the Detroit Environmental Agenda; Housing, Health and Heat Wave Project; and Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition, and served as project manager for Detroit’s climate strategy.

shakara tyler, SEAS speaker

Shakara Tyler will be teaching a 3-credit graduate course in environmental justice this fall.

Tyler is a returning generation farmer, educator, and organizer who engages in black agrarianism, agroecology, food sovereignty, and environmental justice as commitments to abolition and decolonization. She received her doctorate from Michigan State University in community sustainability and works with black farming communities in Michigan and Mid-Atlantic. She explores participatory and decolonial research methodologies and community-centered pedagogies in the food justice, food sovereignty, and environmental justice movements. She is also the chair of the board of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, a board member of the Detroit People’s Food Co-op and co-founder of the Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund, and is a member of the Black Dirt Farm Collective.

Cedric Taylor, visiting associate professor

After a successful year teaching an environmental justice course at UM Flint, Cedric Taylor will remain with SEAS through 2022 as a visiting associate professor. He will teach What Happened in Flint: The Causes and Consequences of the Water Crisis and Documentary Filmmaking for Activism: Benton Harbor.

Taylor is a sociologist and documentary filmmaker. His academic and creative endeavors focus on racial health disparities, environmental justice, and visual sociology. A former president of the Michigan Sociological Association, Taylor is a public sociologist who uses documentary film, visual media, and storytelling to engage the wider community in conversations about inequality. He is director and co-producer of Nor a Drop to Drink: Flint’s Water Crisis, which was screened nationwide and abroad. Taylor is an associate professor of sociology at Central Michigan University.

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