The Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Sustainability Initiative (JEDSI) seeks to examine the relationship between social inequalities, lived experiences, and environmental outcomes. To this end, JEDSI currently focuses on eight primary areas of research, teaching, and practice:
- Environmental History
- Nature, Outdoor Experiences, Attitudes, and Perceptions
- Environmental Inequalities, Resilience, and Sustainability
- Food and Farming: Access, Sovereignty, Food Justice
- Institutional Diversity, Transparency, and Workforce Dynamics
- Diversity Pathway Programming
- New Horizons in Conservation Conference
- Mentoring and Profiles of Environmental Professionals of Color
We study environmental history and events from historical and contemporary perspectives. Our work analyzes the contributions of leading figures in the environmental sector. We also bring to the fore people whose voices are often ignored in conservation narratives. Hence, we document the experiences and contributions that people of color and women in this realm.
Nature, Outdoor Experiences, Attitudes, and Perceptions
Researchers, policymakers, managers, and activists express interest in understanding how people from different backgrounds and cultures experience, perceive and relate to nature and the outdoors. Our research examines racial, ethnic, gender, and class differences in environmental behavior and nature and outdoor experiences. We also study environmental attitudes and perceptions.
Environmental Inequalities, Resilience, and Sustainability
We theorize about the environmental justice (EJ) movement, engage with EJ activists and communities, and conduct research about historical and contemporary EJ issues. We examine the occurrence of environmental hazards, discriminatory policies and practices, and document the existence of open space and other amenities in EJ communities. We identify forms of community resilience that can help communities to thrive and foster long-term sustainability.
Food and Farming: Access, Sovereignty, and Justice
We research food systems, food insecurity, access to healthy and affordable foods, food sovereignty, and food justice. We probe discriminatory policies and practices that farmers of color contend with. In so doing, we work with small farmers, urban farmers, and community gardeners. We collect data on the types of food outlets in cities, examine the roles that small farmers, farmers markets, urban farmers, community gardeners, and emergency food assistance organizations play in reducing food insecurity. We also study mechanisms that communities and groups use to enhance food sovereignty.
Institutional Diversity, Transparency, and Workforce Dynamics
We produce pathbreaking research and publications on diversity in the environmental sector. We study students in environmental programs; the staff, board, and members of environmental institutions; preference to work in green organizations; wages and equity in said organizations; recruitment and retention in the sector; the adoption of diversity measures and the disclosure of diversity activities in enviros; and leadership in these institutions. Environmental professionals use our work to enhance diversity in environmental organizations and the broader environmental movement.
Diversity Pathway Programming
In addition to researching many types of diversity pathway programs, we operate two pathway programs.
- Yale Conservation Scholars - Early Leadership Initiative. We are home to the Yale Conservation Scholars Program at Yale School of the Environment. The program provides one to three summers of internship opportunities to undergraduates who are historically underrepresented in the conservation field. The Scholars spend the summer interning in an environmental nonprofit, research organization, or governmental organization. About a fourth of our program participants pursue graduate degrees.
- Environmental Fellows Program. We also direct the Environmental Fellows Program. The program was housed at the University of Michigan from 2016-2020. It moved to Yale in fall 2020. The program provides a summer internship to master’s and doctoral students who are historically underrepresented in the environmental sector. Fellows do internships in environmental grantmaking foundations or environmental nonprofits around the country.
The New Horizons in Conservation Conference
We organize a national event, the annual New Horizons in Conservation Conference. The conference is a gathering of students and professionals of color in the environmental field as well as Whites who are interested in learning more about and advancing diversity practices in their organizations. Almost 900 people from around the world participated in the 2021 conference. The next New Horizons in Conservation Conference will be held in May 2023, on the Yale Campus in New Haven, Connecticut. There will be an online component to the next conference.
Mentoring and Profiles of Environmental Professionals of Color
We mentor the students and young professionals in our programs and lab. Additionally, we develop profiles of environmental professionals of color who have outstanding careers in the environmental sector. Our database contains more than 200 such individuals. Those seeking mentors may use such profiles to find and connect with them. The profiles also help students and young professionals understand how senior professionals forge successful careers.