Environmental Justice and Sustainability Symposium

Brilliant minds gathered at Florida A&M University’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences for the Environmental Justice and Sustainability Symposium.

Environmental justice and sustainability is the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens. Also, it includes finding alternative ways to help sustain a healthy environment.

This was one of the many events that were held in honor of Elmira Mangum’s presidential inauguration.

“I want FAMU to be known as a school that understands the environmental problems across the world,” Mangum said.

There were a variety of guest speakers who touched bases on a lot of important issues that threaten our existence, but more importantly they understood that in order to bring change we must first be able to effectively communicate this problem to others. Environmental issues affect everyone, especially those in lower income communities.

Heather McTeer Toney, an administrator for the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, had three simple questions to ask the audience.

‘First did you take a breath today?  Have you had any water? And did your feet touch the ground?…’ Toney asked. “If you can say yes to any of those questions then you are impacted by our environment and our environment impacts you.”

Low income minorities and tribal populations are more likely to live in unhealthy environments  due to their lack of knowledge and because these areas are less resistant, which makes them easier to pollute.  

Wendall McGahee, a sophomore philosophy and religion student from Jacksonville, Fla., said that he didn’t know much about the topic beforehand but the symposium was very interesting and offered him a lot of insight on environmental sustainability.

Academic advisor Bruce Strouble believes this issue directly affects college students, especially those at FAMU.

“It’s something that’s pertinent to each of us… it’s going to affect the job market and how we raise our children,” Strouble said. “It could have dramatic effects in every aspect of our social, economic and political existence.”

FAMU is trying to institutionalize sustainability. The goal of the symposium is to articulate the necessity of FAMU to comprehensively engage local, regional and global environmental justice issues through teaching research and public service.

This is where student are needed. They have the skills to take what they learn in school back to their respective communities and explain it to them in a way that they will understand.

When we talk about environmental sustainability, climate resilience and change, and other issues that result from unhealthy environments we’re talking about things that will impact the people that we know and love. That’s why this is so important.

“I think I was a very good symposium in a whole especially on our campus…there is a greater challenge to get communities of color more engaged in environmental justice and umm…in terms of sustainability,” said Kenneth Jones, a professor at the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication.