Environmentally conscious students host conference

The FAMU College of Law and the FAMU Center for Environmental Equity and Justice have joined forces in the fight for environmental justice.

The two are hosting “New Directions in Environmental Justice: An Environmental Law and Justice Symposium,” Thursday and Friday in Orlando.  

“The partnership evolved from our mutual interests in the areas of environmental law and justice, our interests in interdisciplinary approaches to scholarship and problem solving and most importantly, our common objective to leverage our resources and experiences to better serve our students,” said Richard Gragg, a professor who served on the planning committee for the symposium.  

Fourth-year political science and law student Robbie Burnett says she is looking forward to the conference.

“I’m going on the trip to get more experience. I feel like it’s very important for (African-Americans) to be involved with the environment,” Burnett said. 

According to the College of Law’s website, the cost is $50 for general attendees seeking CLE credit; $35 for FAMU alumni and members of the Environmental and Land Use Law Section (ELULS) of the Florida Bar; $25 for the general public not seeking CLE credit; and $10 for general students. FAMU faculty, staff and students may attend at no charge, but Rattler ID information must be provided on the registration form. Gragg said the symposium is an opportunity that the entire student body should take advantage of.

“The Environmental Law and Justice Symposium is beneficial for FAMU students because, as citizens and participants in public and private sector decision-making processes, they will have to deal with the policies and decisions we make today to address the present and emerging local, regional, national and global environmental issues and their impact on public health and welfare,” Gragg said.

The event will feature several prominent African-American pioneers of the environmental justice movement including officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, environmental scholars and activists and environmental representatives from other universities.

The EPA defines environmental justice as the “fair treatment for people of all races, cultures and incomes, regarding the development of environmental law, regulations and policies.”

Keynote speakers include Beverly Wright, founder and director of Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in New Orleans, Quentin Pair from the U.S. Department of Justice and Prof. Maxine Burkett from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s School of Law.

“The symposium is beneficial in the fight for environmental justice because the Obama administration is reinvigorating federal efforts to address these pressing issues. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is leading the effort with the ‘Interim Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of an Action,’ the ‘Draft Plan Environmental Justice 2014,’ and the interagency work group on environmental justice,” Gragg said. “The biggest benefit is the training and exposure of FAMU students to environmental law and justice issues to help prepare them for their active roles as participants, advocates, activists, professionals, legislators, jurists and policy and decision-makers in the public and private sectors of our society.”