Paul Quinn College, a historically black college or university (HBCU) in Dallas, Texas has recently partnered with the private research school in Durham, NC, Duke University on a new program that focuses on environmental injustice.
From Duke Today, “…Duke students will join forces with students from Paul Quinn College (PQC), a historically black college, for a new program focused on urban blight and the root causes of environmental injustice. They’ll partner with members of the community on landfill issues and restoration of an urban stream.”
This spring semester, eight students from Paul Quinn and seven students from Duke will be a part of a new environmental justice program. The program is offering four courses which will allow the students to examine “environmental laws and actions through the lens of race and income — how lead smelters, waste incinerators and other hazardous operations end up in poor neighborhoods in West Dallas or rural North Carolina,” according to The Dallas Morning News.
The announcement was made last year, and students from both schools will have the opportunity to “learn about environmental justice and study together for a semester and come up with potential solutions for sustainable development,” says Deborah Gallagher, an associate professor of the practice of environmental policy at the Nicholas School of the Environment.
Students will swap campuses for three and two weeks respectively, while the rest of the semester’s work will be completed virtually.
Paul Quinn President and graduate of Duke’s public policy and law schools, Michael Sorrell told The Dallas Morning News that this will be one of the coolest things that Paul Quinn and Duke will ever do.
Sorrell says he wanted to help make a change when in 2011 the Dallas City Council favored a plan that would have sent all of the city’s garbage to Dallas’ McCommas Bluff landfills, just 2 miles away from Paul Quinn’s campus.
After the city’s plan back-lashed and locals were outraged, Sorrell had another idea in mind–Professor Deborah Gallagher at Duke.
The City Council dropped the plan due to a federal court ruling, and Sorrell and Gallagher partnered with their next step involving both the local community and higher education.
Though these environmental issues are local, the students are expected to make a change within their classrooms that will also impact their respective communities.
“The goal is to research ways to get communities more involved in environmental issues that affect them, and advocate for them,” said Sorrell.