Birmingham-Southern College receives $1.25M grant for environmental justice education

Birmingham-Southern College Team Members
Members of the team making the multi-year initiative happen. (Birmingham-Southern College)

Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) has received a generous $1.25M grant from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Coast Research Program to develop a curriculum focused on environmental justice and climate change for Mobile schools.

An all-star team

This multi-year initiative is led by Roald Hazelhoff, executive director of the Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham-Southern College.

There are plenty of BSC faculty members involved in the effort:

  • Dr. Vincent T. Gawronski—professor of political science
  • Dr. Kate Hayden—associate professor of chemistry
  • Dr. DesireĂ© Melonas—assistant professor of political science and director of the BSC Black Studies Program
  • Dr. Kelly Russell—associate professor of education

…and many BSC education, chemistry and political science students.

“I look forward to the BSC team continuing to work together. The relationship we are building as an interdisciplinary team is uniquely BSC, and students within several BSC majors and distinctions will have the opportunity to participate.”

Dr. Kelly Russell, associate professor of education, Birmingham-Southern College

Making an impact on the community

The BSC team will partner with community agencies and educators in Africatown, a historic community north of downtown Mobile.

Africatown was founded by 32 formerly enslaved West Africans who had been brought illegally to the Mobile Bay area in 1860, as captives on the Clotilda, the last known U.S. slave ship.

Students from Africatown and surrounding communities will explore the impact that years of environmental injustice and pollution have had on their neighborhoods through a curriculum developed by the BSC team.

So what’s involved in the curriculum? STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), along with service learning, so students learn to make connections between local environment, the community and individual health.

The project will initially target middle school students at Mobile County Training School in Africatown before expanding to include nearby Vigor High School.

Providing learning opprotunities

Community leaders and organizations such as CHESS (Clean, Healthy, Educated, Safe & Sustainable) + the Alabama Coastal Foundation will work with students on the service projects.

These projects will aim to revitalize and restore neighborhoods, parks and ecosystems. Project leaders believe these will provide learning opportunities that align with the state’s required curriculum and help students become change agents in their communities.

Findings and outcomes will be shared at an upcoming environmental justice and climate change conference. 

Interested in keeping up with the initiative? Follow the Southern Environmental Center on Facebook.

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Gabby Gervais
Gabby Gervais
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