Sylvia Hood Washington, Pioneering Scholar on Environmental Justice, to Speak on April 4

April 1, 2016

Tim Lucas, 919/613-8084,

DURHAM, N.C. – Sylvia Hood Washington, an environmental epidemiologist, engineer and historian who was the first African American scholar to publish a formal history of environmental injustices in the United States, will present a free talk at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 4.

Washington’s talk, “Resilient Resources: Pathways to Sustainable Justice,” will be held at Field Auditorium in Environment Hall, located at 9 Circuit Drive on Duke’s West Campus.

The event, which is open to the public, is cosponsored by the Nicholas School, the Nicholas Institute of Environmental Policy Solutions, the Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.

In her talk, Washington will explore the ethical, ecological and human health impacts of environmental injustice and what can be done to end the legacy of inequality.

In a 2009 talk at Yale University, she said, “Environmental health disparities and the rise of the environmental justice movement are human artifacts of man’s interconnectedness to the landscape. When he poisons the land, he poisons himself, even though he does not see himself reflected in others’ humanity.”

Washington has researched the impact of industrial pollution on human health and ecosystems for more than 30 years.  

She is the author of Packing Them In: An Archaeology of Environmental Racism in Chicago, 1865-1954 and editor of the groundbreaking 2006 book, Echoes from the Poisoned Well: Global Memories of Environmental Injustices, which documents the history of environmental racism against poor, working class, and ethnic minority neighborhoods in Chicago, as well as against Native Americans and Indigenous Australians.

She also is the founder and editor of the journal Environmental Justice; serves as co-advisor to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board; and is president and CEO of Environmental Health Research Associates.