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‘Father of environmental justice’ to speak, accept social justice award at WSU

America is segregated and pollution is too, says Robert D. Bullard, 2019 recipient of Washington State University’s William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice. Widely known as the “father of environmental justice,” Bullard will accept the award and deliver a free, public address on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 7:00 p.m. in the Compton Union Building (CUB) Junior Ballroom, WSU Pullman.

His address, “The Quest for Environmental, Climate, Racial, and Economic Justice in the United States,” is part of the biennial William Julius Wilson Symposium, which enables students and the wider community to honor and engage with leading figures in the promotion of social inclusiveness and diversity in social policies.

Justin Denney.

“Dr. Bullard has devoted his career to producing careful research that documents the ills of social inequality and promotes equity in all its forms,” said Justin Denney, William Julius Wilson distinguished professor of sociology at WSU and chair of the symposium organizing committee. “This is a unique opportunity for WSU students and community members alike to engage with a trailblazer and prominent thinker in social and environmental policy.”

Non-Pullman audiences can view the talk via WSU Online. It is sponsored by the Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences, Office of the Provost, Office of Equity and Diversity, Pre-Law Resource Center, and others.

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WSU Insider

New round of Amazon Catalyst Grants awarded to WSU innovators and entrepreneurs

The Amazon Catalyst Program at Washington State University has awarded nearly $20,000 in grants to two teams comprised of research faculty and students from varied university disciplines and locations.

Team Cross-Cultural Optics and team Virtual Reality 360 received grants for their innovative solutions to specific problems posed by Amazon. Launched in 2018, the collaborative program between Amazon and WSU funds projects with potential global impact. This year, applicants were asked to consider the themes of urban transportation and computational social science and submit innovative ideas that have the possibility for big change in these areas.

Closeup of Julie Kmec
Julie Kmec

Team Cross-Cultural Optics, led by Julie Kmec, professor of sociology, was awarded a grant to develop a virtual reality environment that enables female engineers based in the U.S. to explore engineering spaces elsewhere in the world that have higher levels of engineering participation by women. In the U.S., women hold 24% of engineering degrees but represent only 18% of the engineering labor force. Cross-cultural Optics aims to create a visual world and set of narratives that will provide users an opportunity to experience the stories of other engineers in countries across the globe where women represent a higher percentage of the engineering student body and workforce; enabling them to share testimonies, seek advice, learn from others’ experiences, and problem solve.


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WSU Insider

Dr. Universe: Why do people litter?

There is a lot of litter on our planet, but it hasn’t always been that way.

For most of human history, people made stuff out of things they found in nature. They might make tools out of rocks or sticks. These things break down and become part of the soil again.

It wasn’t until the invention of new materials, like plastic, that we started creating more litter. In fact, along with the rise of these new materials came the word “litterbug.”

Erik Johnson.

That’s what I found out from my friend Erik Johnson. He’s a sociologist at Washington State University who is really curious about culture, the ways people interact and live together, and how that shapes a human being.

If you were eating a candy bar and the wind blew the wrapper out of your hand, you might chase after it and find a trash bin. But not everyone will make the same decision. They might let the wrapper blow away—or just toss it on the ground.

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Dr. Universe

WSU Vancouver announces 2019 Distinguished Woman awards

Three Southwest Washington women were honored with Distinguished Woman of the Year awards for making a difference in the lives of others at Washington State University Vancouver’s 11th annual Women of Distinction celebration. Held March 28, the event wrapped up Women’s History Month at the university.

Ana Betancourt Macias.2019 awardees include Ana Betancourt Macias, a junior majoring in sociology. She is the director of legislative affairs, president of WSU Vancouver Collegiate LULAC, and a member of the WSU Vancouver Council on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. She inspires Latinas to use their struggles as strengths. Betancourt Macias is positively changing lives through her message and her work.

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WSU Insider
The Colombian

Measuring America’s Health

The second annual Healthiest Communities rankings, compiled in collaboration with the Aetna Foundation, offer insight into how dozens of factors come together to shape health across the country. By providing a diagnostic scan of the nation, Healthiest Communities aims to draw a clear link between where people live and how well they live—and for how long.

Justin Denney.“There’s something about the places where we spend time that influence our health and well-being,” says Justin Denney, an associate professor of sociology and a health disparities researcher at Washington State University. “Is there access to safe housing, opportunities for employment or to get fresh foods—or are you bound by convenience stores that are around?”

Like many of the top counties in the Healthiest Communities rankings, Douglas County, Colorado, is well-educated and wealthy, with a median household income of about $111,000 in recent years.

Many of America’s poorest counties, meanwhile, fall far outside the rankings, underscoring the crucial need for cross-sector partnerships that promote health equity and ensure wealth is not the only path to wellness.

“We absolutely should be trying to improve resources available to all kinds of families in all kinds of places,” Denney says.

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US News & World Report