Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies

Committee Chair

Neva Hassanein

Commitee Members

Robin Saha, Jill Belsky


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Environmental Studies | Politics and Social Change


An extensive body of environmental justice literature has demonstrated repeatedly what impacted communities have long known from experience, that environmental pollution including groundwater threats, diesel particulate matter, toxic releases, pesticide use, and hazardous waste sites, disproportionately burdens people of color and low-income communities. The environmental justice movement seeks to bring about equal protection of all people from environmental hazards, including equal enforcement of environmental laws and regulations. Advocacy within the movement has frequently adopted oppositional framings with respect to the state; however, collaborative approaches to environmental justice problem-solving have become more common, especially as states increasingly recognize environmental justice in policy. This thesis investigates a California community-based environmental reporting network called Identifying Violations Affecting Neighborhoods (IVAN) through interviews and participant observation in two sites: the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco, and the Imperial Valley in Southern California. The paper argues that IVAN functions to build relationships and trust between community members and government bodies, impose accountability on regulatory agencies, foster social learning that benefits all stakeholders, and solve pollution problems that affect public health, quality of life, and the physical environment. By creating and sustaining a forum that addresses community concerns related to the environment, IVAN acknowledges the validity of residents’ experiences, invites meaningful participation in the process of enforcement of environmental regulations, and, to a limited degree, reduces the pollution burden in low-income communities of color. I argue that in this way, IVAN’s collaborative approach to problem-solving is effective in bridging multiple dimensions of environmental justice.



© Copyright 2017 Sophie C. Wolfram