The Environmental Justice Collective at the University of Texas at Austin is a project that emerged out of a series of conversations initiated by students of color in environmental studies during the fall semester of 2018. The EJ Collective recognizes the need to center issues of race, class, gender, ability, etc. within environmentalism and is a space for students to explore and organize around these topics. Understanding that many classes within environmental studies fail to address these topics, the EJ Collective advocates for curriculum changes to fill these gaps. In the past, we organized zine workshops, hosted panels featuring community activists and scholar-activists, and co-hosted discussions on Indigenous epistemologies and decolonizing sustainability with Native American and Indigenous Collective (NAIC).
Co- Leads and Team Members
Azelia Lau – Co-Lead – Nutrition Major
My interest in sustainability began in high school after I joined and lead a club about it. Then, in my junior year at college, at the peak of the Black Lives Matter Movement, I wanted to find an avenue that would allow me to contribute my small effort to help shift the tide. As a pre-med student, I found that the Environmental Justice Collective was the perfect intersection between justice, environmental sustainability, and health.
Srikari Punyamurtula – Co-Lead – Environmental Science and Business Minor
I joined EJC in the fall of 2019 to learn more about environmental justice since I wasn’t really taught about it in my classes. I think that the sustainability movement has room for us all and in order to truly be sustainable, we need equity. I want to be a part of a movement that is inclusive and accessible to all.
Mandy Tran – Social Media Manager – Environmental Science
WHY Environmental Justice?
– Because of the beauty of using science, policy, & creativity from diverse communities to work toward a cause that affects us all 🙂
Sonja Swami – Curriculum Lead –
I loved the idea of advocating for the people and planet, especially for more vulnerable populations that tend to get left out of the conversation. Joining EJC, I continue to learn how we can play an active part in demanding changes in public policy and bring about mutual respect for all people and land.
Akhil Mandalapu – Content Creator –
Public Health Major
For me, environmental justice is a public health issue and so I really was interested in working towards a future where everyone, regardless of their background can live healthy lives in healthy environments.
Anya Gandavadin – Outreach Chair – Environmental Science
I joined EJC so that I could work with other people who cared about creating a more inclusive environmental movement. I am passionate about creating change that is intersectional and addresses the complex and intertwined relationship between social and environmental injustice through service!
Lisa Gutfleisch – Website Manager – Sustainable, Geography Studies and
I think everyone has the right to live a healthy and fulfilling life, but our social environment is often not permitting it. Being involved in EJC allows me to learn more about environmental justice issues and my part in it. It also gives me a platform and voice to share my knowledge so that I can help others to live their best lives possible. I see this organization as an opportunity to strengthen the community and our local environmental plan of action.
Katherine Faulkner – Event Researcher – Environmental Science and Biological Sciences Honors
WHY Environmental Justice?
– As an environmental scientist, it is not enough to merely research and record changes. It is vital to relate that information to its consequences for vulnerable populations.