Institutional Failure and Contested Illness in Environmental Justice Communities

2/26/2018, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM

Drawing on a case study of a contested birth defect cluster in Kettleman City, California, Richter’s research deepens scholarship on environmental justice.

Drawing on perspectives from environmental sociology and critical race theory, she asks if Mills’ (1997) “conceptually invisible space” might also be “scientifically and legally invisible space.”

Her work highlights the responsibility of scientists in bringing environmental justice to such invisible spaces.

“Science is a central tool in identifying and evaluating the existence of adverse environmental health effects,” Richter says. “Expert knowledge acts as a gatekeeper to scientific, regulatory, and legal recourse for residents of highly polluted communities.”

Richter is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at Northeastern University and a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute. She studies social and environmental inequality, specifically controversies surrounding chemical exposures and health outcomes.

Prior to pursuing her Ph.D. Richter worked at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment in California from 2009-2013. She serves on the board of directors at Alternatives for Community and Environment, a Roxbury-based environmental justice organization. In 2015 she received the graduate department’s “Outstanding Public and Applied Research Award.”

Richter is a 2017-2018 Switzer Environmental Fellow, and received a 2017 National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement award.

The Human Ecology Forum is a free, weekly speaker series based on the work of the academic community, which also draws on artists, poets, and political and religious leaders from around the world. Members of the public are invited to attend.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the COA Thoreau Environmental Leaders Initiative.


Location: College of the Atlantic
McCormick Lecture Hall
105 Eden Street
Bar Harbor

Contact: John Visvader jvisvader@coa.edu
Cost: Free of charge

College of the Atlantic McCormick Lecture Hall 105 Eden Street Bar Harbor