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San Diego State University

Environmental Justice and Water


One of the most pressing issues of our era is environmental degradation and its impact on humans and other species. In these vein ethnic studies scholars have been particularly concerned with how marginalized communities bear “unequal” environmental “burdens” at home and globally. Some of these environmental burdens include water pollution and restricted or altered access to water, land and food. Scholars and activists concerned with these and other unequal burdens form part of an “environmental justice” movement, whose goal it is to create more equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities. Professor Devon Peña, a nationally and internationally recognized scholar, will speak on water and environmental justice concerns amongst Chicana/o, Mexican, and indigenous communities in a transborder context.


The lecture targets students, faculty, staff and the broader community, and has the following key learning goals:


(1) To define environmental justice and its changing significance in historical context;

(2) To discuss the relationship between water concerns in working poor agricultural communities and global capital;

(3) To describe local and transborder community efforts to redress environmental justice concerns related to water.4

Devon Peña is Professor of American Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, and the Program on the Environment at the University of Washington. He is also Research Professor with the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute. He writes about place-based ecological knowledge, farming and biodiversity, water access and rights, and the impacts of neoliberalism on indigenous farming practices on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border. He is the author of several award winning books and anthologies. Peña is the founder and president of The Acequia Institute, the nation’s first Latina/o charitable foundation dedicated to supporting research and education for the environmental and food justice movements. Peña received the 2013 NACCS Scholar Award from the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies. During the five-month irrigation season (May-Sept) he farms in San Acacio, Colorado on a 184-acre acequia farm where he grows heirloom varieties of maize, beans, calabacita, fava beans, and other native crops. He is a seed saver and plant breeder and serves on the Steering Committee of the Biosafety Alliance, which is organizing the 2013 Global Conference on Seed Justice.

Event Details: 

Date: October 25, 2013

Time: 1 - 3:30 p.m.

Location: Hardy Tower 140 [Map]

Faculty Project Director:

Maria Ibarra, Ph.D.,

Department of Chicana/o Studies



The Acequia Institute


Chicano/a Studies at SDSU