Environmental Justice Research Guide
The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines Environmental justice as the "fair treatment for people of all races, cultures, and incomes, regarding the development of environmental laws, regulations, and policies." This is premised on the belief that particular segments of society such as low-income communities, ethnic or racial minority groups, or poor nations may sometimes bear a disproportionate amount of risk associated with environmental degradation and hazards. Disputes involving large industrial projects in developing nations, enforcement of environmental regulations in communities with large minority populations, and other are common examples. Some environmental justice advocates make the case that too often environmental policies protect only wealthy, politically powerful, or educated people. In places where there are no environmental policies or laws in place, issues such as access to information and legal resources, political empowerment, and community rights are raised.
Because environmental justice tends to be a policy or philosophical issue, you will find that much of the scientific and technical literature on environmental issues will not deal with environmental justice directly. However, you may find that utilizing scientific studies or data that support (or don't support) findings of environmental justice will strengthen your research. However, this will require that you use scientific or technical databases and resources in addition to any social science resources.
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Before searching any
database, check out Tips for
for valuable pointers on constructing your search.
Starting out: Since environmental justice is an interdisciplinary area of study, many article databases will cover some literature on the subject. However, depending on the type of literature you need, you may need to utilize specialized social science databases or science databases.
Suggested Databases for Preliminary Research: Both of these databases are good for preliminary research on environmental justice policy and news from a range of science, social science, and humanities sources.
Broad coverage of general and academic journals where environmental justice issues are discussed. Most of the articles that you will find here will be appropriate for term papers addressing the social aspects of this topic, such as the political debate on environmental regulation or news of environmental injustices in communities. National and international coverage. Click here for quick tips and features.Sample searches:
Coverage of leading scholarly, science, social science, and humanities sources. Articles on environmental policy, ethical perspectives, and reports of scientific studies may be found here. Full text access to articles is available. Click here for quick tips and features.Sample searches:
Suggested Specialized Databases in the Social Sciences: These databases are narrower in scope than those listed above. Choose a database whose coverage includes your specific topic.
Information Service (PAIS) International
Science Abstracts (Wilson) or Social Science Citation Index (Web of Science)
Suggested Specialized Databases in the Sciences: These databases are also narrow in scope, and will provide more scientific and technical information than those listed above. Choose a database whose coverage includes your specific topic.
General Science Abstracts
Sciences and Pollution Management
Additional Article Databases: There are many additional electronic article databases that may be useful in your research. If the databases featured here do not meet your needs, go to the UIUC Library Gateway's Online Research Resources page. Select "Environmental Studies" from the Subject Area Covered drop-down menu and click on the Find button. This will display additional resources that may be useful to you, including additional social science and science databases.
Still feeling lost? You may want to look at some Dictionaries or Encyclopedias in order to flesh out your topic. Dictionaries and encyclopedias are also useful for understanding new words or concepts you encounter in articles on your topic. You may also want to look at very general news articles from major newspapers and other popular magazines, such as those indexed in Reader's Guide Abstracts.
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Which library should I use? The UIUC library system is decentralized, and the materials you need may be housed in more than one library. These libraries have resources specifically about environmental justice or that deal with the topic. For more detailed descriptions of the environment-related collections of these and other libraries, go to the Environmental Studies Virtual Library's Collection Initiatives page.
Library and Location Type of Coverage ACES Library
1101 S. Goodwin
Large collection including environmental aspects of land management, rural economic development, toxicity, land use, economic policy and law, and other issues which may play into your research. Also a wide selection of environmental dictionaries and encyclopedias. Biology Library
101 Burrill Hall
407 S. Goodwin, Urbana>
Emphasis is on research-level materials in the basic sciences, with primary emphasis on terrestrial ecology. Some materials dealing with environmental health may be found here. City Planning Library
203 Mumford Hall
1301 W. Gregory, Urbana
This library collects materials dealing with urban land use, pollution prevention programs, environmental assessments, and other materials that discuss social aspects of environmental health and degradation. Commerce Library
1408 W. Gregory, Urbana
Economic aspects of environmental policy and law, including coverage of environmentally conscious industries, companies, and consumers. Education & Social Science Library
1408 W. Gregory, Urbana
Strong collection with international scope covering ecological psychology and ecological sociology, the environmental movement, and other social aspects of environmentalism. Government Documents Library
1408 W. Gregory, Urbana
Environmental policy collection includes government agency guidelines and handbooks. NOTE: Most government documents holdings are kept in the Main Library Stacks, Government Documents section. Map & Geography Library
1408 W. Gregory, Urbana
Maps, atlases and gazetteers, and other geographic materials are available here. You may be interested in country studies, thematic maps that feature certain environmental data, or other items that may be found in this library. Natural History Survey Library
607 E. Peabody, Champaign
Environmental policy as related to ecology, conservation, habitat restoration, and biodiversity. Law Library
104 Law Building
504 E. Pennsylvania, Champaign
Environmental law books and journals. You may find yourself using this library if you are looking for articles that discuss legal or regulatory actions that have dealt with environmental justice issues.
How can I find materials on my topic? Use the online catalog to search for books and journals. You can search for keywords in the title, or you can search by subject heading. Some suggested headings for environmental justice are given in the table below. You can also browse the shelves.
Shelf Browsing Hints
The following Library of Congress (LC) subject headings may be useful for locating books and journals on environmental justice in the UIUC online catalog. Use the "find--browse subject" command in the Quick Search interface of the catalog, or use the "subject words" command in the Guided Keyword Search interface. Be creative with your language!
For additional Environment-related LC subject headings, check out Library of Congress Subject Headings for Environmental Sources Greta de Groat, Electronic Green Journal, Nov. 1997, vol. 7.
Sometimes, after finding a book in the catalog, you can find other similar books on the shelf near it. It is also useful to browse the shelves in a call number area that pertains to your topic. Some good call number areas relevant to environmental justice are:
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Environmental Protection Agency. Terms of the Environment.
Revised Edition, 1997.
This online glossary of environmental terms contains commonly-used words found in EPA publications and technical reports.
Grafton, R. Quentin, Pendleton, Linwood H. & Nelson, Harry W. A Dictionary of Environmental Economics, Science and Policy. 1999.
ACES Library, Reference: 333.703 G759d.
Coverage of terms that are likely to be found in literature on environmental justice. Mainly non-technical terminology.
Kemp, D.D. The Environment Dictionary. 1998.
Map & Geography Library, Stacks: 363.7003 K32e
Includes technical and simple descriptive topics along with in-depth examination of selected current issues. Heavily cross-referenced, and very detailed. Selected references for further reading are given for many entries. This could be an excellent source to use for selecting a topic.
Porteous, Andrew. Dictionary of environmental science and technology, 3rd ed. 2000.
ACES Dictionaries; Map & Geography; Natural History Reference. 628.03 P832d2000
The focus of this dictionary is on "the science and technology of environmental protection and resource management." If you need to look up certain technologies or other scientific terms, this may be a useful source.
Wyman, Bruce. Stevenson, L. Harold. The Facts on File Dictionary of Environmental Science. 2001.
Map & Geography Library, Stacks: 628.03St48f2001
Coverage of environmental hazards and regulations, as well as social and political aspects of the environment. Includes cross-references and seems to provide broader coverage of environmental science than most dictionaries.
Allin, Craig W. ed. Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues 2000. (3 vols.)
Education Library, Reference; Undergraduate Library, Reference: 363.7003 En192.
Environmental justice and environmental racism are treated in volume 2 of this set. These informative entries provide a background on the environmental justice movement and also include cross references and a bibliography for further reading.
Barry, John. Frankland, E. Gene. Eds. International Encyclopedia of Environmental Politics 2002.
ACES Encyclopedias; Education Library; Undergraduate Library: 363.7056 In821
This source provides a nice introduction to and overview of national and international perspectives on environmental issues, including movements such as the environmental justice movement. Includes further reading references and cross-references to other encyclopedia entries.
Paehlke, R. Conservation and Environmentalism: an Encyclopedia. 1995
Map & Geography Library, Reference; Uni High, Reference; Undergraduate Library, Stacks: 363.7003C765
Contains over 500 individual entries, with good coverage of regulatory aspects of many environmental issues, including government agencies and legislation and case law. The entries are grouped under 3 main areas: ecology, pollution, and sustainability.
For additional environmental journals, see the Environmental Studies Virtual Library's Print and Electronic Journals page.
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Resource and Source
Description CIA World Factbook: Country Studies Informative country reports published by the CIA include economic, political, demographic, and other information about countries including information about environmental issues and international agreements, natural hazards, etc. Maybe be useful if your project is international in scope or is specific to another nation. Environmental Routenet Cambridge Scientific Abstracts Resources screened and indexed by Cambridge Scientific Abstracts. Includes links to searchable journals, policy & compliance resources, congressional reports on environmental topics, and other sources of information that cover environmental justice issues and policy. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Homepage Of particular interest is the Environmental Justice Home Page which provides general information on environmental justice issues in the U.S. and the EPA's implementation of environmental justice programs. Other relevant EPA programs and initiatives are the Environmental Justice in Waste Programs,the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences The NIEHS is one of the 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health. If you are researching the human health effects of environmental degradation, the factsheets, pamphlets, and other materials here may be useful to you. Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice A non-profit organization that aims to bring bring together groups of people working on a variety of social, economic and environmental justice issues in order to build a strong movement for change. This site may provide relevant information for you if you are interested in exploring grassroots or community action in the environmental justice movement. Environmental Justice Query Mapper - Environmental Protection Agency The EnviroJustice Mapper uses a combination of facility or geographic information (e.g., city and neighborhood) that you provide and Geographic Information System (GIS) data to create a profile which is then illustrated through the use of GIS maps. The map includes permit information for air, water, solid and hazardous waste systems in the area you specify. Environmental Justice Case Studies- University of Michigan Prepared by UofM law students, these case studies were written on various grassroots struggles for environmental justice in the United States and all over the world. These could be useful to you if you are interested in a particular case dealing with environmental justice. National Response Center - United States Coast Guard Single point of contact for reporting all oil, chemical, biological, radiological and etiological discharges into the environment anywhere in the U.S. and territories. Searchable database of all oil and chemical spill data with summary statistics on incidents. EcoEquity This somewhat radical source of news and information may be of interest to you if your research centers on the notion of global justice and/or environmental rights, especially in relation to climate change.
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by Amy Schuler
Last updated 12/18/02