Past Event

At the Crossroads of Data, Environmental, and Climate Justice

April 10, 2024 - April 12, 2024
9:30 AM - 2:00 PM
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Online and In-person: Fayerweather Hall (Room 513), Columbia University, 1180 Amsterdam Avenue, New York

Event Description 

The increasing recognition of traditional and Indigenous knowledge as critical to environmental science (if not by researchers, then by the many funding agencies who require community involvement as part of their criteria), has led to an intensification of local engagement. Much of this recent goldrush has instituted troubling framings that flatten communities into homogeneous blocs with no rational concerns, motivations, and actions of their own. Many of the stories, histories, and voices of local communities are amplified, reinterpreted, and distorted by academic work. Framings that pose collaboration, interlocution, and “coproduction” as panaceas erase and obscure centuries of collaborative work with local communities that has, all the same, produced colonial, racist, and extractive science.

Many interdisciplinary scholars are aware of the very complex nature of local collaboration in field research, and the asymmetrical relationships, institutional and economic pressures, and geopolitics that are all embedded in these forms of work. They are also aware of the flagrant violation of rights and the persistent forms of colonial entrapment that can and do emerge out of local collaborations. For many, environmental (field) research presents a dynamic frontier of data injustice, environmental injustice, and climate injustice that is difficult to navigate and reconcile ethically and intellectually.

This two-day symposium is a set of honest conversations that does not seek to attribute blame, but furtively searches for greater understanding of the sets of challenges that lie ahead in a changing world that needs environmental research now more than ever. Calls for data justice, environmental justice, and climate justice often seek particular outcomes through proposed changes in practices, yet rarely are these sought outcomes or proposed practices – whether they are legal, technical, political, or cultural – scrutinized to understand the breadth of their impacts (advantageous, adverse, or ambivalent) on communities. What happens, though, if rights, dignity, and relations are instead centered in the pursuit of justice? 

Event Information

Free and open to the public; Registration required. Please note that this event is held on two non-consecutive days from 9:30AM-2:00PM: April 10 and April 12, 2024. 

Please contact Lydia Gibson at [email protected] with any questions. Hosted by the Center for Science and Society and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

The Center for Science and Society makes every reasonable effort to accommodate individuals with disabilities. If you require disability accommodations to attend a Center for Science and Society event, please contact us at [email protected] or (212) 854-0666 at least 10 days in advance of the event. For more information, please visit the campus accessibility webpage

Event Sessions


Elizabeth Povinelli, Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University

Roundtable 1: Data Justice

  • Sheng Long, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Anthropology at Columbia University
  • Eric Nost, Assistant Professor of Geography, Environment, and Geomatics at the University of Guelph
  • Chris Sanbrook, Professor of Conservation at Society at the University of Cambridge
  • Lourdes Vera, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Buffalo

Roundtable 2: Climates of Justice

  • Jackie Dugard, Senior Lecturer in Political Science at Columbia University
  • Rebecca Lave, Professor of Geography at Indiana University
  • Paul Nadasdy, Professor of Anthropology at Cornell University
  • Sarah Vaughn, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley


Paige West, Claire Tow Professor Of Anthropology at Barnard College

Roundtable 1: Black, Feminist, Queer Ecologies and Critical Geographies

  • Vanessa Agard-Jones, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University
  • Kishi Ducre, Associate Professor of African American Studies 
  • Brittany Meché, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Williams College

Roundtable 2: But Where Are They Now? Abandonment and Justice

  • Shannon Bartlett, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at the National Geographic Society
  • Sahil Nijhawan, Honorary Research Fellow at University College London