Ellen Kohl

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

Ellen Kohl

Biography

As a researcher and a teacher, I am broadly interested in how multiple, intersecting forms of oppression impact human-environment interactions. I examine how compounding socio- spatial processes, developed and perpetuated by urban and environmental policies, contribute to places of persistent injustice in the United States. I am also interested in the science- policy interface - examining how scientific knowledge is Produced, how it is interpreted in different settings, what counts as knowledge, and how these processes impact the development and implementation of environmental policies. I am particularly interested in how these processes impact marginalized communities and the social movement strategies these communities employ to create positive change in their communities. In my dissertation, I worked with the Newtown Florist Club (NFC), a social and environmental justice organization in a historically African-American neighborhood in Gainesville, Georgia that has been fighting injustice in their community since 1950. Drawing on critical race and feminist theories, I examined the processes that both led to the isolation and environmental conditions in this communities, and how these same processes have perpetuated the injustices in this community. Despite over 60 years of activism by the NFC, little has changed in respects to the environmental conditions in the community. Through an examination of the interactions between members of the NFC, local city officials, and representatives of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4, I argue that environmental justice activists have to overcome almost insurmountable barriers to make positive change in their community. They are not just trying to move a polluting industry out of their neighborhood, they are intentionally or unintentionally trying to change the system which allowed the polluting industry to be in their neighborhood in the first place.

Areas of Research Specialization

  • Environmental Justice
  • Intersectionality
  • Feminist Geographies
  • Black Geographies
  • Environmental Policy
  • Critical Social Theory
  • Human-Environment Interactions
  • Urban Geography

Areas of Teaching Specialization

  • Environmental Studies
  • Environmental Justice
  • Critical Social Theory
  • Science-Policy Interface
  • Human-Environment Interactions

Education

  • Ph.D. in Geography at University of Georgia, 2015
  • M.A. in Geography at University of Georgia, 2009
  • B.S. in Geography at McGill University, 2001