Syllabus for MSP-531



This course explores the foundations of the environmental justice movement, current and emerging issues, and the application of environmental justice analysis to environmental policy and planning. It examines claims made by diverse groups along with the policy and civil society responses that address perceived inequity and injustice. While focused mainly on the United States, international issues and perspectives are also considered in relation to climate change, clean development mechanism trading, and cap-and-trade market approaches.


  1. Historical perspective on the environmental justice (EJ) movement
  2. Responses to the problem: minority participation, the civil rights movement
  3. Toxic waste and race
  4. Land use practices and market forces
  5. Lead exposure and prevention
  6. Environmentalism and politics of inclusion
  7. Industrial exploitation
  8. Outlining the problem (environmental discrimination): causes, evidence, risks to groups affected
  9. Human progress and alienation from nature
  10. Sustainable development
  11. Income disparity
  12. American Indians and Environmental Justice
  13. Local planning and EJ Implications
  14. Global threats
  15. Climate change
  16. Litigation: Common law remedies and civil rights claims


After completing this course, you should be able to: 

  1. Discuss the concept of environmental justice.
  2. Discuss the historical background of the environmental justice movement.
  3. Analyze and propose solutions for instances of environmental injustice.
  4. Discuss environmental justice issues related to land use and market forces.
  5. Recommend ways to strengthen an alliance of environmentalists and civil rights advocates.
  6. Connect the term treatment as a state to Indian tribes in terms of implementing and managing environmental issues.
  7. Compare tactics used to address environmental injustices within communities.
  8. Analyze factors that influence the siting of hazardous waste facilities.
  9. Discuss market-based approaches to regulating waste
  10. Analyze environmental issues relating to climate change.
  11. Explain legal and constitutional issues related to environmental justice.    


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbooks are available from the College's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbooks

  1. Rechtschaffen, C., Gauna, E., & O’Neill,C.A. (2009). Environmental justice: Law, policy, and regulation, 2d ed. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press. 

ISBN-13: 978-1-59460-595-6

  1. Bullard, R. (1999). Environmental racism: Voices from the grassroots. Cambridge, MA: South End Press. 

ISBN-13: 978-1-59460-595-6


Environmental Justice Issues and Policy is a three-credit online course, consisting of eight (8) modules. Modules include an overview, topics, learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.


  1. Module 1: The Environmental Justice Movement

  1. Module 2: Evidence and Causation

  1. Module 3: Minorities and the Environmental Justice Movement

  1. Module 4: American Indians and  Environmental Justice

  1. Module 5: Regulatory Standards

  1. Module 6: Government Initiatives

  1. Module 7: Climate Change

  1. Module 8: Legal and Civil Rights Issues


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, and complete a final project. See below for more details.

Consult the course Calendar for due dates.

Discussion Forums

You are required to participate in eight (8) graded discussion forums as well as an ungraded "Introductions" forum. The online discussions are on a variety of topics associated with the course modules. Your course Web site includes an evaluation rubric that will be used in the grading of your discussion postings.

Written Assignments

You are required to complete eight (8) written assignments. The written assignments will require you to write papers of between 500 and 1000 words each. In these assignments you will analyze subjects and may be required to do outside research. Your course Web site includes an evaluation rubric that will be used in the grading of your written assignments.

Final Project

The final paper consists of 2,000- to 2,500-word paper (with a typical font and spacing this will be 8 to 10 pages) in which you will demonstrate your mastery of the course material. You are required to consult three (3) outside sources and document these sources properly.

See the Final Project area of the course for a fuller description. Your course Web site includes an evaluation rubric that will be used in the grading of your final project.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  1. Online discussions (8)—20 percent
  2. Written assignments (8)—30 percent
  1. Final project—50 percent

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:
























Below 73

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or higher on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., assignments, discussion postings, projects, etc.). Graduate students must maintain a B average overall to remain in good academic standing.


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

  1. Read carefully the entire Syllabus, making sure that all aspects of the course are clear to you and that you have all the materials required for the course.
  2. Take the time to read the entire Online Student Handbook. The Handbook answers many questions about how to proceed through the course and how to get the most from your educational experience at Thomas Edison State College.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the learning management systems environment—how to navigate it and what the various course areas contain. If you know what to expect as you navigate the course, you can better pace yourself and complete the work on time.
  4. If you are not familiar with Web-based learning be sure to review the processes for posting responses online and submitting assignments before class begins.

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the course Calendar. The Calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting assignments, posting discussions, and scheduling and taking examinations.

  1. Check Announcements regularly for new course information.


Students at Thomas Edison State College are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State College expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the College insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty takes the following forms:

  1. Cheating
  2. Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  3. Fabricating information or citations
  4. Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others
  5. Unauthorized access to examinations or the use of unauthorized materials during exam administration
  6. Submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the mentor
  7. Tampering with the academic work of other students

Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the College. Students who submit papers that are found to be plagiarized will receive an F on the plagiarized assignment, may receive a grade of F for the course, and may face dismissal from the College.

A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge. If a mentor or College official believes the infraction is serious enough to warrant referral of the case to the academic dean, or if the mentor awards a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and the mentor will be afforded formal due process.

If a student is found cheating or using unauthorized materials on an examination, he or she will automatically receive a grade of F on that examination. Students who believe they have been falsely accused of academic dishonesty should seek redress through informal discussions with the mentor, through the office of the dean, or through an executive officer of Thomas Edison State College.


Using someone else's work as your own is plagiarism. Although it may seem like simple dishonesty, plagiarism is against the law. Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism.  (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > "Citing Sources.")

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else's. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

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