Events & Media


Student-Selected Panel
Presented by the Bren Environmental Justice Club

"Environmental Justice, Not Just an Afterthought"

David Pellow, Faculty, Environmental Studies, UCSB
Asma Mahdi, Interim Executive Director, Green Muslims
Hahri Han, Associate Professor, Political Science, UCSB

Moderated by Timnit Kefela, PhD Student, Bren School

Monday, April 24, 2017
11:30 - 12:45
Bren Hall 1414

"In a time of great inequality, what can we do to ensure that environmental costs and benefits are distributed equitably among all people? Join us as we discuss what the Bren community and society at large can do to promote a more just and fair world."

—Wendy Lisa Bagnasco, MESM 2018

David Pellow
Asma Mahdi
Hahri Han
Timnit Kefela


What is Environmental Justice? Who does it effect and why? Environmental injustice tends to arise when marginalized parties experience disproportional exposure to pollutants, and it is often only addressed after damage has occurred. How can we as scientists, economists, and environmental managers change this narrative that is far too often repeated? Join the Bren Environmental Justice Club as we tackle these questions and more.


David N. Pellow is the Dehlsen Chair, Professor of Environmental Studies, and Director of the Global Environmental Justice Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he teaches courses on environmental and social justice, race/class/gender and environmental conflict, human-animal conflicts, sustainability, and social change movements that confront our socioenvironmental crises and social inequality. He has volunteered for and served on the Boards of Directors of several community-based, national, and international organizations that are dedicated to improving the living and working environments for people of color, immigrants, indigenous peoples, and working class communities, including the Global Action Research Center, the Center for Urban Transformation, the Santa Clara Center for Occupational Safety and Health, Global Response, Greenpeace USA, and International Rivers.

Asma Mahdi is a native Angeleno and has been an environmental advocate for nearly a decade. Her passion for environmental justice led her back to Los Angeles to work for the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, an ambitious research initiative at UCLA aimed at transforming Los Angeles into the first sustainable region in the US by 2050. She is also the interim executive director of Green Muslims, a nonprofit organization focused on providing spiritually-inspired environmental education and resources to the Muslim community, that strives to inspire Muslims to live the environmental spirit of Islam. Before returning to Los Angeles, she worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington, DC, where she co-wrote and hosted the Regional Emmy Award-winning education series Trash Talk. Asma received her Bachelor’s from UCLA in Environmental Studies and Geography, and earned her Master’s in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara.

Hahrie Han is the Anton Vonk Associate Professor of Environmental Politics in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 2005-2015, she was an Associate Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College and a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar at Harvard University (2009-2011). She specializes in the politics of environmental and social policy, focusing particularly on the role that civic associations play in mobilizing participation in politics and policy advocacy. Her recently published book, How Organizations Develop Activists: Civic Associations and Leadership in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press 2014) examines the strategies that the most effective civic associations use to engage activists and develop civic leaders in health and environmental politics. Another book, Groundbreakers: How Obama's 2.1 Million Activists Transformed Field Campaigns in America (co-authored with Elizabeth McKenna, Oxford University Press 2014) describes the strategies the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaign used to engage so many grassroots activists in communities across America. Her first book, Moved to Action: Motivation, Participation, and Inequality in American Politics (Stanford University Press, 2009) examined the ways in which people become motivated to participate in politics, looking particularly at means of engaging underprivileged populations in political action. The book was the subject of a series of “Critical Dialogues” in Perspectives on Politics, an Author-Meets-Critics panel at the Southern Political Science Association, and positive reviews elsewhere.

Timnit Kefela is a first-year PhD student in the Holden Lab at the Bren School. Her research interests lie in the investigation of how pollution affects the unseen environment. Her undergraduate and master’s research focused on the role of rhizobacteria in abiotic and biotic stress tolerance in plants. Timnit is committed to connecting people to science and was heavily involved in STEM outreach efforts in the greater Philadelphia area for the last five years. She also served as an educator for two years at both the secondary school and collegiate level in Camden, New Jersey. As a Rutgers-Camden Civic Engagement Graduate Fellow she led a project focused on the use of native pollinator species for the phytoremediation and beautification of abandoned plots in Camden. Additionally, she was the Rutgers Graduate Fellow in the LEAP STEAM Fabrication Lab, where she served as the team scientist for the ‘Food Desert to Food Forest’ project, which was selected as the national track winner at the First Annual National Social Justice Challenge in Newark, New Jersey.

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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