Department of Environment & Sustainability

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Department of Environment and Sustainability at UB, located on territory of the Seneca Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, is committed to providing an inclusive, accessible, and safe environment where everyone can learn and thrive. We seek to ensure that our activities respect the needs and identities of all students, staff, faculty and community partners, with special attention to those historically underrepresented in our field.

Environmental fields face unique challenges in addressing historic patterns of exclusion, yet are poised to make great strides towards a more just future. Many of those who have championed biodiversity and sustainability have failed to acknowledge indigenous rights and relationships to land,i  opposed immigration,ii  or privileged the concerns of the wealthy over the plight of the poor.iii  Research shows that people of color in the United States are equally if not more concerned about sustainability compared to white peers,iv  yet they remain vastly underrepresented in environmental organizations.v  Much of the grassroots work by women, people of color, and those in poverty to protect the integrity of water, air, and land remains  Despite these inequities, environmental concerns are also a powerful catalyst for social change, as the impacts of a changing planet reach across all axes of difference, forging new alliances.vii  A more sustainable future demands equitable and inclusive action, both in education and beyond.

Equitable engagement in education is not only our responsibility, it enhances all facets of our work. The wisdom, expertise, and experiences brought by members from diverse groups are crucial components of environmental thought and action, inspiring innovative and impactful teaching and strengthening engagement across local and global communities. We are committed to making continual improvements which increase diversity in all aspects of our department.

As a department, we commit to the work required to recognize and remedy inequities in our society and educational systems. A key component of this work is fostering the participation of underrepresented groups among our students, staff, faculty, and associated researchers and partners.

We challenge ourselves and each other to:

  • Cultivate a space where a diversity of ideas, values, cultures, and perspectives are welcomed and respected
  • Approach our courses with strategies for fostering inclusion and support students in linking equity and justice to their investigation of environmental problems
  • Actively recruit and provide tailored support for underrepresented students
  • Educate ourselves to better understand and correct patterns of exclusion including explicit and implicit bias
  • Engage in open dialogue about inclusion and environmental work through events and mentorship on campus, as well as in our research and professional engagements off-campus
  • Develop and strengthen partnerships with community organizations striving toward healthy environments for all

This statement is a launching pad for ongoing efforts and will be revisited as we evaluate our progress and adapt to the needs of our students and community.


i Witter, Rebecca, and Terre Satterfield. “The Ebb and Flow of Indigenous Rights Recognitions in Conservation Policy: Indigenous Rights Recognitions in Conservation Policy.” Development and Change 50, no. 4 (July 2019): 1083–1108.

ii Hultgren, John. Border Walls Gone Green: Nature and Anti-Immigrant Politics in America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

iii Dauvergne, Peter. Environmentalism of the Rich. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018.



vi Gilio-Whitaker, Dina. As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock. Boston: Beacon Press, 2019.

Martinez-Alier, Juan. The Environmentalism of the Poor: A Study of Ecological Conflicts and Valuation. Cheltenham: Elgar, 2002.

Smith, Kimberly K. African American Environmental Thought: Foundations. American Political Thought. Lawrence, Kan: University Press of Kansas, 2007.

Unger, Nancy C. Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

vii Julian Agyeman, Robert D. Bullard & Bob Evans (2002) Exploring the Nexus: Bringing Together Sustainability, Environmental Justice and Equity, Space and Polity, 6:1, 77-90, DOI: 10.1080/13562570220137907