Wake Forest University has been awarded a $1 million grant for a project focusing on environmental justice.
The grant from the Mellon Foundation will support the creation of a model program for teaching issues related to climate change and environmental justice.
The three-year effort will be led by Wake Forest Professor of Humanities Corey D.B. Walker.
Walker says the idea is to bring together educators, public officials, and community members to develop a new curriculum.
He points to last year’s fire at the Winston Weaver Company fertilizer plant, located in a residential neighborhood, as one impetus for the project.
"After the Weaver fire, what we realized is that we cannot continue to educate and produce knowledge in the same way," says Walker. "In many ways, Weaver served as a wake-up call for us."
Walker says the grant money will fund activities including a summer institute for collaboration between journalists and activists, as well as area university and college faculty. Planned reading and research projects will help create a template for educating students and the public about environmental justice issues.
Walker believes the project is an opportunity to reshape how those issues are addressed.
"We hope that this inaugurates a new day for universities to begin to help and respond with our community partners to building and sustaining a transformed world," says Walker.
The project will also advance STEM-focused community programs supported by previous Mellon grants.