On Tuesday, February 27, members of the Colgate and regional community gathered at the Palace Theater in downtown Hamilton for a panel titled, “Environmental Justice in Upstate NY,” to discuss the importance of researching and sharing data on issues related to environmental justice. Activists and scholars concerned with environmental justice point to the disproportionate impacts of environmental problems on communities who are disadvantaged on the basis of their income, race, ethnicity, or other factors. This topic is the subject of several courses at Colgate, including “Environmental Studies 232: Environmental Justice,” taught this term by Professor Andy Pattison of Colgate’s Environmental Studies Program.
Dr. Pattison teamed up with Josh Finnell, Head of Research and Instruction for Colgate’s University Libraries to organize a panel discussion on environmental justice to help mark Endangered Data Week, a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the importance of data that might be vulnerable to loss or manipulation due to changing political regimes. The seed for Endangered Data Week was planted back in February of 2017 by Brandon Locke, director of the Lab for the Education and Advancement of Digital Research at Michigan State University, when he tweeted a call for a banned data week, similar to the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week. With the help from the Digital Library Federation, Endangered Data Week grew into an annual event, coordinated across campuses, libraries, and nonprofits to publicize the availability of datasets, increase critical engagement with data, shed light on open data policies and practices, and host workshops on data curation and preservation.
The panel on Environmental Justice in Upstate NY was one of 45 events taking place across the country during week of February 26th and featured four speakers who shared their insights on the importance of collecting and sharing data related to environmental justice: Professor Monica Mercado of Colgate’s Department of History, Geoffrey Snyder, Director of Environmental Health at the Madison County Health Department, Alex Coyle, Public Health Statistician for the Madison County Health Department, and Rosa Mendez, Director of Environmental Justice at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.