Past Events from the Building In Justice Initiative

Panel Presentation & Discussion
Ethical Considerations in Research with Communities Experiencing Environmental Injustice

Occurred: Tuesday, April 19, 2022 

Audiences joined us for a panel presentation and discussion of ethical considerations in conducting research with communities experiencing the impacts of environmental injustice. Featuring experts from both academia and communities, the session focussed on issues such as the need to understand and address previous negative experiences with research, the importance of valuing other ways of knowing, the benefits, and the costs, of truly partnering with marginalized communities in research processes and specific methods for developing clear expectations and acknowledging people’s contributions.

The panel presentation was held in a hybrid in-person/online forum from noon-1:15pm. It was followed by in person small and large group discussions.


Dr. Mary Ann Jacobs, Chair and Associate Professor, American Indian Studies, University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Read Dr. Mary Ann Jacob’s profile here.

Dr. Mary Ann Jacobs is the Chair and Associate Professor for the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. In addition to teaching, grant work, and service, she is the primary editor of Upon Her Shoulders: Southeastern Native Women Share Their Stories of Justice, Spirit, and Community (Blair Publishing June 2022). She has previously authored articles in The North Carolina Medical Journal, The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, Reflections: A Social Work Narrative Journal, Childcare in Practice, The Journal of Social Service Research, and the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services.

Danielle Koonce, PhD Candidate, University of Maryland 

Read Danielle Koonce’s profile here.

Danielle Koonce is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Maryland where she studies Social Movements, Race and Rural Space. Danielle’s dissertation investigates how Blacks living in the rural South engage in Environmental Justice. Danielle and her family reside in eastern North Carolina where she volunteers for EJCAN (Environmental Justice Community Action Network) to help organize and serve her surrounding communities. 

Catalina Garzon, Senior Health Educator, Tracking California 

Tracking California Website

Catalina provides stakeholder and community engagement support to Tracking CA’s advisory group (TIAG) and facilitates the use of qualitative and participatory methods in several of the program’s community-engaged research and education projects. She is dedicated to integrating community-based and participatory approaches into research, education and communications that elevate the voice and power of those directly impacted by environmental and health disparities. Catalina brings over twenty years of experience with coordinating community-based planning, participatory action research, popular education, and participatory curriculum development partnerships with community-based organizations and coalitions. Her interests include embarking on experiential learning opportunities like STEAM activities and environmental scavenger hunts in the East Bay Regional Parks with her 5 year old.

Dr. Kay Jowers, Area Director, Just Environments, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University

Read Dr. Kay Jower’s profile here.

Kay Jowers, JD, Ph.D, is the Director of the Just Environments Program, a joint initiative between Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Her work focuses on bringing scholars, students, and community co-researchers together to understand the structural sources of environmental and climate injustices and challenge the deeply held assumptions that perpetuate them. Through partnerships grounded in research and data justice principles, her collaborations focus on generating research and policy solutions that address the traditional issues of alleviating environmental burdens as well as on creating healthy sustainable communities with access to quality and affordable housing, food, green spaces, utilities, etc. She also co-directs the Environmental Justice Lab, a collaboration with the Duke Economics Department, where students, faculty, and community partners work together to use computational social science methods to study environmental inequality and assess the efficacy of policy solutions.


Yeoman, B. (2021) The Contested Swamps of Robeson County. The Assembly. Retrieved March 25, 2022.

Soloman, A. Elbein, A. & Medley, K (n.d.). A pipeline in the sand, The Bitter Southerner. Retrieved March 25, 2022.

The National Congress of the American Indian Publication, ‘Walk Softly and Listen Carefully‘ Building research relationships with tribal communities. Retrieved March 25, 2022.

African American Environmental Justice Action Movement. 1997. “Defining the Role and Principles of Lawyers and Academicians in the Environmental Justice Movement.

Harrison, Jill Lindsey. 2015. “Coopted environmental justice? Activists’ roles in shaping EJ policy implementation.Environmental Sociology 1:4, 241-255, doi: 10.1080/23251042.2015.1084682.

Alejandro, Colsa Perez, Bernadette Grafton, Paul Mohai, Rebecca Hardin, Katy Hintzen, and Sara Orvis. 2015. “Evolution of the environmental justice movement: activism, formalization, and differentiation.” Environ. Res. Lett. 10 105002.