The Toxic Legacy of Local History: Industrialization, Deindustrialization, and Environmental Justice Winter 2024

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The history of industrialization in the northern Berkshires provides a remarkable illustration of the forces of that have shaped American society over the last two centuries. In this course, we will examine a number of local case studies that illustrate these forces and their outcomes, with particular attention to the history of North Adams. We will investigate and discuss, – How the needs of industry determined the location and the subsequent economic development of North Adams; – The transition from nineteenth to twentieth century industrial production, with particular attention to the dramatic increase in sophistication of products and the toxicity of the waste stream; – The connection between immigration, labor, and unionization, exemplified by the recruitment of Chinese immigrants to North Adams to break a strike; – The rise of environmental regulation and the rapid exportation of hazardous industries to developing nations, leaving industrial cities like North Adams with almost no economic basis; – The toxic legacy of our industrial past: A housing stock heavily contaminated by lead paint; a neighborhood razed because of contaminated groundwater, and a river so polluted that fish caught it in can’t be eaten. The course will highlight the local and global environmental justice and public health consequences of the different phases of industrialization, and will consider approaches to mitigating some of these impacts.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 12
Expected: NA
Class#: 1025
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Paper(s) or report(s); Presentation(s)
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: None
Unit Notes: Rye Howard holds doctoral and MPH degrees in environmental public health, and has extensive teaching and policy experience. Rye is a staff scientist at ELAW, an NGO providing legal and scientific assistance to environmental defenders worldwide.
Materials/Lab Fee: $106
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
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