Eco-Apartheid: Linking Environmental Health to Educational Outcomes

Apr. 10, 2011

Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 113 Number 4, 2011, p. 831-859.

Purpose of Study

In this article, the author examines the relationship between school desegregation, environmental inequality, structural racialization, and health and educational outcomes.
For this purpose, the author draws on the disciplines of environmental sociology, critical race theory, and social epidemiology.
The author proposes a conceptual framework for linking environmental health to educational outcomes that considers the dynamic social processes through which social and environmental inequalities—and associated health and educational disparities—are produced, reproduced, and transformed.

Berkeley Unified School District has achieved substantial integration in a city where neighborhoods are polarized by racial-ethnic, socioeconomic status, and environmental inequality.
The Berkeley Unified School District's plan to maintain diversity could serve as a national model for other public schools that are seeking constitutionally sound desegregation programs.

Research Design
Using empirical evidence from the published literature, as well as the author’s own practical experience conducting community-based participatory research in Berkeley, the author applies the eco-apartheid conceptual framework to the city of Berkeley.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The eco-apartheid framework provides a useful model for theory building in the study of environmental health and educational equity.
Moreover, the author recommends that theories of racial and educational inequality in general would benefit from a more serious consideration of the role that environmental inequalities play in structuring the relationship between health and educational inequality.
Additionally, the author highlights the ways in which existing research on desegregation remains in need of theoretical strength and methodological rigor with respect to environmental inequality.

Updated: Oct. 24, 2011