The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum welcomed its first cohort of participants of the Environmental Justice Academy March 25. The cohort is made up of 32 young people living in communities along the Anacostia River. This hybrid program allows students to explore the intersections of community, justice and environment. The Environmental Justice Academy is an annual program that will be part of the Smithsonian’s Center for Environmental Justice at the Anacostia Community Museum, launching next month. The center seeks to create a future in which environmentalism is a cornerstone of civic engagement and encourages a humanities-led framework that places traditional scientific research and data in the context of daily life.
The participants of the Environmental Justice Academy will explore four pathways: Advocacy & Public Policy, Arts & Culture, Faith and Inclusive Leadership. They will take field trips to the Anacostia River, the communities along the river and the new exhibition, “To Live and Breathe: Women and Environmental Justice in Washington, D.C.,” when it opens in May. The 32 participants will have conversations with guest speakers as well, women whose work in multiple environmental spaces has effected change at local, regional, national and international levels. The Environmental Justice Academy is an outgrowth of the Women’s Environmental Leadership (WEL) initiative, which has been hosted by the museum since 2018.
“The Environmental Justice Academy, like the WEL initiative before it, embodies the long 55- year history of the Anacostia Community Museum’s partnerships with local community organizations, youth advocates and schools to engage teens in understanding and leading social change,” said Melanie Adams, the Roger Ferguson and Annette Nazareth Director of the museum.
The Environmental Justice Academy and the Center for Environmental Justice are part of the museum’s theme for 2023, “Our Environment, Our Future,” in which the museum is examining the topic of environmental justice in the Washington metropolitan area using the lens of race and gender. This theme deepens the museum’s existing work in pioneering community-centered practices and critical environmental justice conversations.
The Environmental Justice Academy and the Center for Environmental Justice are also part of Life on a Sustainable Planet, the Smithsonian’s initiative to collect new data about the changing planet, implement holistic approaches to environmental conservation and educate the world about why and how sustainable solutions to climate change can benefit people and nature. Life on a Sustainable Planet uses the Institution’s vast scientific resources across its global network of research centers to produce, curate and communicate strategies for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
The Environmental Justice Academy is made possible thanks to the support of The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Cornell Douglas Foundation and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. The participants internship stipends receive federal support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.
About the Center
The Smithsonian’s Center for Environmental Justice at the Anacostia Community Museum seeks to create a future in which environmentalism is a cornerstone of civic engagement through which residents contribute to the development of healthy, equitable communities. The center encourages a humanities-led framework that places traditional scientific research and data in the context of daily life. Center staff will organize symposiums, panels, fellowships, an Environmental Justice Academy that will engage young people living in the region, as well as continue the work of well-known programs like “Growing Community,” the long-standing community gardening program.
About the Museum
Founded in 1967, the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum shares the untold and often overlooked stories of communities furthest from justice in the greater Washington, D.C., region. In celebrating stories of resiliency, joy and strength, the museum inspires those who visit to translate their ideas into action. For more information about the museum, visit anacostia.si.edu or follow the museum on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
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