Social Responsibility

Environmental Justice Activism

Seniors in the Environmental Analysis capstone program designed this page to introduce readers to critical environmental justice. The resources and knowledge we have brought together provide a foundation for visitors to engage in generative dialogues that dismantle extractive and uneven relationships between The Claremont Colleges and its surrounding environments.

This page includes videos from environmental justice scholars and activists, an EJ connections map, key terms for our work, and more resources.

- Betel Tesfamarian (PO ‘20), Jonathan Gunasti (PO ‘20), Hans Zhou (PO ‘20), Mia Kania (SCR ‘20)

Environmental Justice Resources


Environmental Justice Activists on Their Work:

Scholars and community organizers shared how their work engages with critical environmental justice and how college students can become involved. Listen to their answers below!

Cindy Donis. Community Organizer at East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.

Alhelí Calderon. MD, MPH from Universidad Autónoma Baja California, Tijuana Campus.

Ki'Amber Thompson. Pomona EA and English Class of 2018, Founder of the Charles Roundtree Bloom Project in San Antonio, Texas (follow  @crbloomproject on Instagram), pursuing a PhD in Sociology at UC Santa Cruz.

Kristan Culbert. Master's Candidate at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, Class of 2020.


The EJ Connections Map:

The EJ Connections Map is a dynamic visual database of scholars and organizations whose work is closely tied to critical environmental justice. Rather than acting as a comprehensive list, this database builds on past efforts to map the ubiquitous presence and importance of environmental justice work in Southern California.


Key Terms that guided our work:

Critical environmental justice is a term created to capture new developments in Environmental Justice (EJ) Studies that question assumptions and gaps in earlier work in the field by adopting a multi-disciplinary approach that draws on several bodies of literature, including critical race theory, political ecology, ecofeminist theory, and anarchist theory (Pellow, 2016)

Decolonization entails the repatriation of Indigenous land and life to achieve Indigenous sovereignty and secure its futurity. It moves beyond critical consciousness, is incommensurable with Third World decolonizations, and is only accountable to Indigenous people. Decolonization involves the dismantling of imperialism within settler colonial states and is connected to global anti-imperialism struggles (Tuck & Yang, 2012). 

Scholar-activism is critical political work that articulates and bolsters the demands of community organizers or communities that mobilize to dismantle interlocking systems of domination. Scholar-activism entails the creation of a counter consciousness through intersectional analyses and solidarity building that leverages the resources in academic institutions to build up grassroots movements (Hall, 2016).


Theoretical foundations of our approach:

Bios of the Creators

Betel Tesfamarian (she/her)

Betel graduated from Pomona College with a B.A. in Environmental Analysis in the Environmental Justice: Race, Class, and Gender track, and a minor in Africana Studies. She is an international student from Ethiopia but currently lives in Accra, Ghana. Her thesis is titled “Belonging While Black at Lake merritt: The Black Spatial Imaginary and Place-making in Oakland, CA”. She is the co-founder of the 5C African Students Association (ASA) and is interested in working as a paralegal for a couple of years before pursuing law school. 

Jonathan Gunasti (he/him)

Jonathan graduated from Pomona College in 2020 with a B.A. in Environmental Analysis on the chemistry track. His senior thesis explores how contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) challenge our paradigm of pollution. As of fall 2020, he is studying environmental health and epidemiology at Emory University.

Hans Yuxin Zhou (he/him)

Hans graduated from Pomona College in 2020 with a B.A. in Environmental Analysis on the Environmental Justice: Race, Class, and Gender track and Classical Studies. His thesis, “Situating Asian American Environmental (In)Justices through Radical History Walking Tours,” examines how Asian American communities can find their places in the U.S. environmental movement.

Mia Kania (she/her)

Mia graduated from Scripps College in 2020 with a B.A. in Environmental Analysis on the Sustainability and Built Environment track and a minor in Music. Her thesis, “Equity, Education, and Emergency: Examining Social Resilience Building Pilot Programs, Methods, and Successes in Massachusetts Communities,” explores the emerging field of social resilience and how it can be applied in preparation for and reaction to extreme weather events. Post-grad, she is interested in working in community-based design or planning for a couple of years before pursuing a graduate degree in sustainable urban planning.