Health equity cannot be achieved by medical care alone. Social and political factors greatly impact the health of communities, including the environments where they live, work, and play.
Many communities shoulder the undue burden of environmental injustices — pollution, natural disasters, infectious diseases, violence, and more. Effective interventions must be developed through diverse multisector partnerships and be reflected in policies and structures that can create real change.
As part of the our commitment to engage diverse perspectives and sectors, the AAMC Center for Health Justice convened the Multisector Partner Group, a team of leaders from in and outside health care and academic medicine, and identified environmental justice as one of the most pressing health equity issues facing people across the U.S. — and the newest focus area of the center. The center and Multisector Partner Group developed a working definition of environmental justice to guide the center’s program and research activity:
Communities made marginalized — particularly communities of color, Indigenous communities, people with disabilities, and low-income communities — are more likely to be exposed to and harmed by environmental hazards. These hazards can be chemical (e.g., pesticides, toxic waste, lead in paint), physical (e.g., floods, noise pollution, drought, injuries), biological (e.g., molds, allergies, epidemics) or psychosocial (e.g., stress, violence).1
This unjust exposure to environmental hazards gets in the way of the health and the long-term well-being of individuals and families living in these communities across both rural and urban settings — in every U.S. region, state, and local jurisdiction.
Environmental justice “embraces the principle that all people and communities have a right to equal protection and equal enforcement of environmental laws and regulations”2 and demands the meaningful involvement of all people in the development, implementation and enforcement of such laws and regulations. Environmental justice also requires “changing unjust structural conditions deeply ingrained in our built environment and social and economic systems.3”
In 2023 and beyond, the Center for Health Justice will launch programs, conduct research, and develop expertise to serve the health equity community working to address environmental injustice. Subscribe to the Center for Health Justice newsletter to receive updates on this and other initiatives and resources.
Get Involved: The AAMC Center for Health Justice Fellowship
Application Deadline: April 7, 2023
About the Fellowship
The AAMC Center for Health Justice Fellowship seeks to support the health justice community with the strong and diverse leadership and workforce it needs to create multisector partnerships for lasting change. As it launches its new area of focus, the center is looking for an inaugural two-year fellow with background and experience in environmental justice to join the team. The fellow will work under the mentorship of the center’s leadership team and in collaboration with the Multisector Partner Group and AAMC CHARGE to integrate community wisdom into their work.
The fellow will gain hands-on experience building a multisector coalition for environmental justice from a national organization, growing their network to include key players in health justice, and developing their skills and expertise.
This is full-time, paid, two-year position.
What the Health Justice Fellow Will Do
- Learn directly from local communities and organizations fighting for environmental justice
- Work in partnership with other organizations and advocates to develop and launch resources for environmental justice action, policy change, and research
- Contribute to a multimedia storytelling campaign that amplifies community voices and successes and increases the visibility of local environmental justice experts and organizations
- Develop and foster connections between the center and local, state, and national environmental justice organizations for collaboration and coordinated action
- Contribute to the center’s other environmental justice-related activities such as research, public opinion polling, comment letters, and meetings
Who Should Apply
All are invited to apply for the fellowship, however, the center is especially interested in applicants with relevant subject matter and professional expertise, as well as a passion for the collaborative process of health equity and environmental justice. Qualifications include but are not limited to:
- A minimum of 5-7 years of professional and/or academic experience in environmental justice or related field
- A strong, existing environmental justice network (i.e., individuals and organizations) and an understanding of the policy and structural drivers of, and potential solutions to, environmental injustice
- Experience working with a group or groups that are or have been directly impacted by environmental injustice
- Experience working in multisector settings on intersectional issues
1 United States Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental Justice. Sept 2022. https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice.
2 Bullard R. About Environmental Justice. 2018. https://drrobertbullard.com.
3American Public Health Association. Addressing Environmental Justice to Achieve Health Equity. Nov 2019. https://uat.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy- database/2020/01/14/addressing-environmental-justice-to-achieve-health-equity.