Developing an Environmental Justice Index

A conceptual framework for an Environmental Justice Index for the Chesapeake Bay watershed was developed through a graduate course in the Marine Estuarine Environmental Science (MEES) program held last Spring 2021 and taught by Dr. Bill Dennison and Dr. Vanessa Vargas-Nguyen. Graduate students came from various Maryland universities, including the University of Maryland College Park, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. In this course, students, instructors, and staff engaged with subject matter experts to establish potential indicators and thresholds in various aspects of environmental justice from existing publicly available data and literature. Examples of potential indicators include proximity to hazards, access to green space, management and governance, and restoration funding. Preliminary results were presented during the Chesapeake Bay Program STAC meeting and three listening sessions with select stakeholders were held. Outputs from the class included a series of student blog posts, a summary video, and a newsletter.