Graduate Certificate in Environmental Justice

Broadly defined, “Environmental Justice” is an interdisciplinary field of study that includes (but is not limited to) theories of the environment, theories of justice, environmental law and governance, environmental policy and planning, philosophy, development, sustainability, and political ecology.  More narrowly, the United States Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies."

Environmental justice emerged from an increased awareness of the disproportionately high impacts of environmental change and degradation on economically and politically disadvantaged communities. It addresses issues such as social, economic and political marginalization of minorities and low income populations.

The Graduate Certificate in Environmental Justice emphasizes the causes and consequences of the distribution of environmental problems. Students focus on why some poor and minority communities are more likely to experience a host of environmental burdens, as well as exploring the impact of that disproportionate environmental exposure. Understanding why some neighborhoods, communities, regions and countries benefit from environmental protection, while others do not, provides students with a concrete skill set and a critical perspective on environmental problems, community organizing and public participation, good governance, and research methods. Students who pursue this certificate will be well situated for careers in public policy, international relations, environmental advocacy, and environmental research.

The Environmental Justice Graduate Certificate can be completed at either Lawrence or Edwards Campus locations. 

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Graduate Admission

Individuals who are not already enrolled as KU graduate students must complete an application to Graduate Studies for admission into the certificate program and submit an application fee along with the following materials:

  • A Statement of Interest in the environmental justice certificate program. This 1-2 page narrative should summarize your education, employment history, your long-term career goals, and how this certificate will help you achieve these goals.
  • Official undergraduate transcript.
  • A letter of recommendation from someone familiar with your academic work or qualified to offer judgment on your ability to undertake graduate-level work (former professor or instructor, workplace supervisor).

Current KU graduate students wishing to enroll in the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Justice program must apply through Graduate Studies and submit the required fee.  A student must be in good standing with their graduate degree program in order to participate in the certificate program.  Awarding of certificates will be handled consistent with guidelines and timing of degree awards of the Office of Graduate Studies. Completion of the certificate will appear on the graduate transcript. KU graduate students should submit the following materials:

  • A Statement of Interest in the environmental justice certificate program and its relationship to your graduate course of study.
  • An unofficial copy of your KU transcript.
  • A letter of support from your graduate degree program (your advisor or graduate director).

Please see the Admission to Graduate Study policy and the KU Edwards Campus page for additional information on admission.

Certificate Requirements

Certificate students must complete 12 graduate credit hours.

Elective courses may have prerequisites or other requirements.  Students should consult with the graduate advisor of that department to assess whether they will be permitted to enroll in a particular class.

Course requirements