Looking for Environmental Justice at USC

EJvidHi! My name is Charlene and this past semester, I found myself in a six-person upper-division Communication class called Environmental Communication. All of us entered the class with an interest in environmental issues, but no clear idea of what the class would actually cover. Gradually, we came to develop a sense of how communication, both interpersonally and through the media or advocacy campaigns, really changes how people think about and behave towards the “environment.” When it came time for us to decide on a class term project, we weren’t really sure what to do, until one of us happened upon the EPA’s Environmental Justice video contest online. We decided that it was the perfect opportunity to look at an important issue from a communication perspective. In filming our video submission, we started by walking around campus and just asking people what they thought the words “environmental justice” meant. We found that while a few people had a vague idea, nobody really knew the actual answer. Furthermore, many people have never considered the fact that it is the world’s poorest people who in fact bear the largest environmental burden and are often left without an audience willing to hear and help them. We realized that one of the most important things everybody can do is take the time to give opinions about pending environmental issues. We cannot achieve environmental justice if people do not know it is a goal. Therefore, we focused our video on an explanation of what “environmental justice” is, in the hope that we would inspire other people to get involved. Making the film was definitely a great experience, and being chosen as a finalist was so exciting. Although I cannot say for sure what is to come, for our class or for the Earth, I have so much hope that people will believe they can make a difference in terms of climate change and environmental justice. I know that the hardest times are yet to come, but I truly believe that people can overcome these challenges.

About the author: Charlene Fowler is a junior at the University of Southern California.