Environmental and Social Justice

Portland Harbor Willamette River


We are working on creating community-driven solutions to current challenges revolving around sustainability in 1) the US-Mexico Borderlands region and 2) Portland, Oregon. We are combining culture, history, science, and more to develop resources for communities to advocate solutions that meet their needs and values. These projects are currently on-going and are part of significant interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder collaborations. Below are different goals that might appeal to different types of students.

Borderlands: In the Borderlands, we are working with the several local community leaders in Agiabampo and Sirebampo, La Paz and Hermosillo to combine people’s lived experiences with environmental and related science. We are conducting research for environmental and social justice, such that they are empowered and confident to advocate for change as climate change exacerbates current threats. More info here.
  1. Law and Policy: Research existing policy in Mexico and Arizona.
    1. One person that is bilingual, Spanish fluency is preferred but not required.
  2. GIS: Developing maps to be used in StoryMaps and collating information about this region.
  3. Resource security: Develop an understanding of current socioeconomic, political, and resources issues by reading literature and more to understand current water and food security and sovereignty.
  4. Indigenous: Research history of Indigenous and local culture of specific regions (i.e., Agiabampo and Sirebampo).
  5. Animation: We will be integrating stories and information to create animations.
Portland, Oregon: In Portland, we are working with the Portland Harbor Community Coalition to consult on current actions being taken by the EPA to identify what else needs to be considered, based on expertise and community priority. This project has already been years in the making, more info here.
  1. Policy-related: Translate existing research into a form that is understandable to the public.  
  2. GIS-related: Developing StoryMaps and collating information about this region.
  3. Environment: Research water quality, natural hazard, air quality, climate change, and risk data.
  4. Science Communication: Translate research into published works that is understandable to non-experts.

Issues Involved or Addressed

Communities’ lived experiences are unique and varied—a “one size fits all” solution to sustainability issues is neither possible nor responsible. We believe that working alongside community partners to understand and address their environmental challenges, as informed by historical contexts and community values, is necessary to develop equitable, sustainable, and resilient solutions. This project builds capacity for students and communities to pair stories with community-driven research to develop sustainable solutions. We will focus on water and food sustainability and sovereignty to develop international relationships, address current challenges, and empower students and communities for community-driven action, growth, and change.


  1. Climate change
  2. Community based participatory research
  3. Water security
  4. Food sovereignty
  5. Indigenous history
  6. Policy and law
  7. Environment
  8. Environmental justice
  9. Social justice
  10. Spanish
  11. GIS and mapping
  12. Sustainability
  13. Resilience
  14. Science communication
  15. Animation
  16. Physical art

Portland, Oregon:

  1. Superfund site
  2. Community based participatory research
  3. Contamination
  4. Public health
  5. Policy and law
  6. Environment
  7. Environmental justice
  8. Social justice
  9. Climate change
  10. Earthquakes
  11. Natural hazard
  12. GIS and mapping
  13. Sustainability
  14. Resilience
  15. Nature-based solutions

Methods and Tech

  • Archival environmental research
  • GIS
  • Community based participatory research
  • Multi-stakeholder science communication
  • Policy and legal research
  • Animation
  • Environmental modeling and simulation

Academic Majors of Interest

  • Environmental science
  • Public health
  • Pre-law
  • Environmental and Civil Engineering
  • Hydrology
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology
  • Honors
  • Education
  • Art
  • Animation
  • Geography
  • Indigenous studies
  • Communication
  • Biosystems Engineering
  • History

Preferred Interests and Preparation

  • Highly motivated, dedicated student that desires to take initiative
  • Excellent time management, organizational, and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to collaborate and maintain relationships with various offices and programs on campus, as well as in the community
  • Strong interest in environmental justice, social justice, environmental science and engineering, agriculture, environmental health, participatory research, history, and/or data management and analysis
  • Excellent analytical and interpretation skills

Application Process

Please submit applications here

Team Advisors

Caitlyn Hall, PhD

Nicole Antebi, MFA