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Connecticut College awarded $200k grant to develop global environmental justice curriculum

With a new grant to revolutionize the environmental justice curriculum, Connecticut College faculty will help students better understand their place in the world and the responsibility they bear to their neighbors. "We have seen an increase in the number of students with an interest in international studies and environmental programs," said project lead Jane Dawson, the Virginia Eason Weinmann '51 Professor of Government at Connecticut College.

"Developing specific programming to merge these academic areas will ensure that our students consider global environmental justice issues seriously and deeply." A $200,000 grant from The Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation will allow a core group of faculty to be trained in the teaching of international environmental issues and learn firsthand about the links between global environmental problems and social injustices. The funding will support a faculty development seminar, fieldwork in India, Peru and South Africa and a curriculum development seminar during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years.

The 19 participating faculty members will revise existing courses and develop new courses with a focus on environmental justice, provide students with new research and study abroad opportunities, expand community outreach and host a regional conference with Connecticut College's Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment. "This is a unique opportunity for faculty from a broad range of disciplines - philosophy, dance, physics, gender and women's studies, economics, religious studies - to gain new expertise in an emerging and increasingly urgent field of study," Dean of the Faculty Roger Brooks said. "The Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation is giving us the opportunity to revolutionize the way we teach environmental justice."

Following on-campus training, faculty will examine specific cases of international environmental justice issues in three key sites abroad. In South Africa, for example, many preservationist efforts have been perceived as promoting park creation and wildlife protection at the expense of the socioeconomic development of impoverished communities. A group of six faculty members will visit Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town for an on-site seminar about how these issues play out on a local, national and international level.

About The Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation The Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation is dedicated to the life of the mind and spirit. Since its founding in 1952, the Foundation has focused its attention primarily on the field of education, which nurtures and liberates the best in human imagination and action. The Foundation devotes most of its funds to projects that make a significant institutional difference in liberal arts colleges.

July 20, 2011